Posted by: gisellediego | May 4, 2012

Final Report: International Criminal Law Services

International Criminal Law Services: The Hague, Netherlands

Report by Giselle Diego

Working for International Criminal Law Services was both an enriching and challenging experience. I gained an important insight into how NGOs work at an international level, and the challenges of being a small organisation without core funding. The internship opened my eyes to the importance of the domestic application of international criminal law. Theoretically, this is where the lion share of prosecution should be done in this field. It is an area I have become increasingly interested in as a result of this internship.

Our time was split between two projects. The first project was an update of the training manuals ICLS had prepared for practitioners in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia conducting domestic war crimes trials. Our task was to replicate these manuals for use in Kosovo. This was a lot more difficult than it first appeared. Jeremy and I spent quite some time piecing together the legal history of Kosovo, which proved to be a very interesting and challenging task. We had the opportunity to meet with Catharine Marchi-Uhel, who is currently head of chambers at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and has previously been a judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the mixed panel war crimes trials in Kosovo. She was able to provide us with some guidance and provide a context to the political and legal landscape in Kosovo. Her help was invaluable as we had great difficulty getting access to the case law in Kosovo. The project taught me the difficulties involved in piecing back together a legal system after conflict and secession.

Our second projectlooked at the relationship between conflicts and business. ICLS was looking to put together a guide to the individual criminal liabilities individuals can incur in conflicts for a corporate audience. This area of international criminal law is growing and I will be interested to see how it develops in domestic jurisdictions.

Towards the end of the internship ICLS received a request to run a war crimes trial monitoring training programme in Croatia. The project was to be funded by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Jeremy and I helped prepare documents to be included in the grant tender. It gave us an opportunity to consider yet another aspect of international criminal justice, as war crimes trial monitoring plays an important role in the field.

Jeremy Shelley (the other Castan Centre intern) and I worked alone in the ICLS office. At times I found this aspect of the internship difficult, however I also learnt how to work unsupervised much more efficiently than in previous jobs and internships. I also learnt some valuable lessons in time management and teamwork. We had constant contact with the Executive Director Cecilia Nilsson Kleffner via Skype and email. Cecilia also came to The Hague for a week and I enjoyed having her in the office. She was very supportive and attentive to our needs and questions. Ken Roberts, the founder of the organisation, acted as a mentor to us throughout our internship. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to meet and discuss contemporary issues in international criminal law with one of the most experienced practitioners at the ICTY.

In order to enrich our experience Cecilia gave us the opportunity to visit the courts in The Hague as well as any conferences that were on. For example, Jeremy and I went to a seminar run by the United Nations University in Maastricht on the dynamics of conflict, violence and development. We also met with some of the board members working at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

Working with Jeremy was also a great experience. We both had different strengths and were able to help each other and work together very effectively. We are considering writing an academic article together on some of the issues that came up in our Kosovo project.

I truly believe in the aims and goals of ICLS. The work they do is of great import. There is no other organisation in the field of international criminal justice like ICLS. They are small organisation who rely on their interns, and I am hoping to continue volunteering for ICLS as a researcher from here in Australia.


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