Florida State symposium to explore role of tribunals in combating war crimes
The Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights is sponsoring a symposium that will bring together leaders in the international justice movement to assess the role criminal tribunals have in combating torture, genocide and war crimes.
"International Criminal Tribunals: Problems and Prospects" is set for Friday, Jan. 30, and Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Claude Pepper Center's Broad Auditorium on the Florida State campus. Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who served as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, is the keynote speaker. His talk is set for 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 30.
"Justice Goldstone has been among the leaders of the international justice movement for the past three decades," said Terry Coonan, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights (CAHR). "He has been a driving force in the world arena in ensuring that atrocities such as genocide, mass rape and torture do not go unnoticed or unpunished."
Legal commentators from around the world, as well as attorneys currently serving as prosecutors and defense counsel on United Nations criminal tribunals, are joining Goldstone at the symposium. Speakers will consider the progress and obstacles encountered by U.N. criminal tribunals to date, as well as strategies that would enhance the ability of these tribunals to more effectively address systematic human rights violations such as those occurring in Darfur and other conflict zones around the world.
The symposium is an extension of the CAHR's annual summer course in The Hague that allows Florida State students to visit and study the international criminal tribunals there, according to Coonan.
"As the international community seeks better ways to combat genocide, torture and war crimes, these new international criminal tribunals have become a critical tool," Coonan said. "The work of the tribunals coincides with CAHR's mandate to assist human rights victims from around the world."
The United Nations established special international criminal tribunals in Rwanda and Yugoslavia to prosecute those responsible for atrocities during times of war and genocide. Successful convictions of political and military leaders are meant to bring justice to victims and to deter others from committing such crimes in the future. These special tribunals gave impetus to the formation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2003.
Scheduled to speak Friday are David Tolbert, former deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, who will discuss "Making Complementarity Work: Lessons from Yugoslavia and Cambodia" at 11 a.m.; Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, who will discuss "Strengthening the International Criminal Court Through Domestic Prosecutions" at 2 p.m.; and Professor Susana Sacouto, director of the War Crimes Research Office at the American University Washington College of Law, who will discuss "Victim Participation in Proceedings of the International Criminal Court" at 3:45 p.m.
Saturday's slate of speakers includes Fergal Gaynor, of the Irish Centre for Human Rights and former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who will discuss "Prosecutorial Challenges and Accomplishments of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda" at 9:30 a.m.; April Carter of the Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, who will discuss "A View from the Trenches — an ICTY Prosecutor" at 11 a.m.; and Nicholas Stewart, defense counsel, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, who will discuss "A View from the Trenches — an ICTY Defense Attorney" at 2 p.m. Florida State President Emeritus Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte will offer concluding remarks.
The two-day symposium is free and open to the public. The Claude Pepper Center is located at 636 W. Call St. For more information, visit www.cahr.fsu.edu.