War Crimes Speaker Series
The WCRO continues to enhance its educational program at WCL with the War Crimes Speakers Series, an informal forum for discussion with practitioners and other experts involved in the work of the various tribunals.
Through a carefully-selected series of public activities, the WCRO serves as an educational resource for the WCL community and the public at large. Notice of public events sponsored by the WCRO can be found on the homepage, on MyWCL, and through our listserv. Media inquiries may be directed to the Staff Assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 274-4067.
The 17th Annual Hague Summer Program was held from May 29 to June 24 in The Hague, The Netherlands. The program, based on a long-term partnership between the War Crimes Research Office of Washington College of Law and the T.M.C. Asser Institute, was held in person for the first time since the pandemic, and drew 30 students, 24 from WCL and six from other law schools including George Washington University, Columbia University, and University of Missouri in the United States, and Coventry University in England. The program’s primary focus was the comprehensive study of international criminal law and the contemporary legal framework pertaining to counterterrorism in the 21st century.Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto and Assistant Director Natalie Coburn submitted, in collaboration with the Due Process of Law Foundation, an amicus curiae brief in support of the families of the victims of the "El Mozote" massacre, in which nearly 1,000 civilians (of which more than 550 were children) were killed by the Salvadoran Army in and around the village of El Mozote, in the Morazán Department of El Salvador, in December of 1981. The brief provided an analysis of victims’ rights in the case, which is now before the Court of Instruction in San Francisco Gotera in the Morazán Department of El Salvador. The amicus brief confirms that the 1974 Code of Criminal Procedure applies to all future El Mozote proceedings but that the Code is not the only applicable law. The Salvadoran Constitution requires all courts to recognize that international treaties, as well as other binding obligations, likewise apply. Such obligations require the Court to grant additional rights to the victims of the massacre. Specifically, victims must be provided with broad intervention rights, including the right to appeal inaction. Moreover, the Constitution and other domestic law place an onus on Salvadoran judges to act expeditiously to achieve justice. The brief argues that only by recognizing victims’ intervention rights can Salvadoran courts comply with their obligations to provide victims with effective access to justice.Read more
AU Alumna Linn Shapiro has funded an AUWCL initiative that celebrates the life's work of Fabiola Letelier, a Chilean human rights lawyer, through the "Fabiola Letelier Fund for International Criminal Law Research." This fund will support research activities into conflict-driven sexual and gender-based violence in Latin America conducted through the WCRO. Linn hopes AUWCL students will be inspired by Fabiola’s life story as an outstanding lawyer who used her legal skills to advance the practice of international human rights law and build a unified social movement to restore democracy to her country.Read more
The War Crimes Research Office and Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law host ICC Registrar Osvaldo Zavala Giler as part of the WCRO War Crimes Speaker Series and the Academy's 2023 Human Rights Month: The Experts Speak Series. WCRO Director Susana SáCouto moderates the event, with introductory remarks provided by Academy Co-Director Claudia Martin. The event focuses on the opportunities and challenges currently faced by the ICC.
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto attends the 2023 American Society of International Law (ASIL) 117th Annual Meeting and participates in three separate panels. Director SáCouto serves as the moderator of a panel entitled "A Hopeful Conversation: Overcoming impunity for sexual and gender based violence." During the "Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG)" Business Meeting, Director SáCouto is awarded the Scholarship Prize for the book "Gender and International Criminal Law," with co-editors Valerie Oosterveld and Indira Rosenthal, and serves as a speaker on a panel discussion focused on how gender has become part of the mainstream of international law, how that mainstream sometimes misunderstands gender, and how gender is still excluded from the mainstream in certain ways. Finally, Director SáCouto serves as a panelist in the Closing Plenary entitled "Pursuing Global Accountability for Atrocity Crimes: Needs, Challenges and the Path Forward."Read more
The War Crimes Research Office (WCRO), the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Academy) and the Latin American Network for Gender-based Strategic Litigation (ReLeG) hosts the Workshop on Strategic Litigation on Gender-Based Violence in Latin America (3ra Mesa de Discusión sobre Litigio Estratégico en Materia de Violencia de Género en América Latina) at WCL on March 23 and 24, 2023. This conference, funded by UN Women and supported by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), convenes 44 Latin American legal professionals who work to promote accountability for sexual violence and other forms of gender violence. The event includes ReLeG members from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as legal professionals from Brazil, Nicaragua, and Uruguay.
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto moderates an International Suite Talk on "The Practice of International Courts: Cross-fertilization, Cooperation and Competition Among International Courts and Tribunals" with Chiara Giorgetti, Professor of Law at University of Richmond School of Law and Rebecca Hamilton, Professor of Law at Washington College of Law. The discussion focuses on the recently published book "Beyond Fragmentation," edited by Chiara Giorgetti, and Mark Pollack, Professor of Political Science and Jean Monnet Chair at Temple University.
On February 14, 2023, the War Crimes Research Office co-sponsored "The Evolution of International Criminal Procedure: From Genocide to Ecocide | A Conversation with Giovanni Chiarini." Giovanni Chiarini, an Italian Attorney, International Law Scholar, and Scholar in Residence at Texas Tech University School of Law, presented a lecture on international criminal tribunals from Nuremberg and Tokyo up to the establishment of the ICC in the Hague. The event was sponsored alongside the Tech, Law and Security Program (TLS), the Office of International and Comparative Legal Studies (ICLS), and the International Law Student Association (ILSA).
The War Crimes Research Office hosts a discussion by current and former WCL students from Myanmar, Thi Thi Han and Alex Kaung Myet Ahkar, to discuss the current situation in Myanmar and recent developments in justice and accountability efforts. Access more resources on Myanmar:Read more
On December 15, 2022, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its judgment in the case of Prosecutor v. Ongwen, upholding its historic conviction of forced pregnancy as a war crime and a crime against humanity. Among other things, the Court agree with the analysis in an amicus curiae brief submitted in late 2021 by AUWCL Professor Susana SáCouto in partnership with five other experts on gender and international criminal law that forced pregnancy is a form of reproductive violence and an attack on reproductive integrity. The Chamber made clear that the inclusion of the crime of forced pregnancy in the Rome Statute was intended “to protect a woman’s reproductive rights, including the right to be pregnant and to autonomously determine the way in which she carries out her pregnancy.” Access the interview here:Read more
Read more about the WCRO's accomplishments this year.Read more
The War Crimes Research Office invites you to an interactive session on the 2023 Hague Summer Law Program with Professor SáCouto and alums of the program. All JD/LLM students and international students are invited to attend the session on November 30 at 12:00pm in Room Y403! Summer Program Alums Ben Crawford (Hague Program 2022) and Natalie Landau (Hague Program 2022) will be joining us to share their experience and answer your questions! Please RSVP here:Read more
The War Crimes Research Office, in collaboration with the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and ReLeG, commemorates 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence with various events. The first event, a discussion on "Women in human mobility and gender violence: cases and comparative experiences in the region," will be held on Tuesday, November 29 from 12:00 to 1:30 (EST) via Zoom. Link will be provided upon registration at:Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto leads a working session on "Lessons from the Sepur Zarco Case: A Model of Holistic Support for Documenting CRSV", as part of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) program on Activities Supporting Ukrainian Women Peacebuilders. The training aims to fill in the gap in accompaniment and support mechanisms for victims and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and other war crimes in Ukraine.
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto attends the IV Plenary Meeting of the Specialized Gender Network (REG) of the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors as a panelist on "Theoretical Reflection on Sexual Violence: Definition and Consent." The Plenary Meeting was a three-day event focused on the development of a regional protocol on sexual violence as well as on discussions of femicide, sexual violence, violence against women in the context of organized crime, and the mainstreaming of the gender approach within public prosecutor offices.Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto serves as a panelist on the topic of prosecuting the crime of aggression at the 2022 Annual International and Comparative Law Symposium on "Aggressive War - State vs. Individual Responsibility," hosted by the Maryland Journal of International Law and UM Carey's International and Comparative Law Program. The Symposium evaluates the legal and historical roots of the international norm of outlawing aggressive wars.
The WCRO would like to extend an invitation to all Spanish-speaking students interested in international justice issues to join us in a conversation with Luz Marina Monzón Cifuentes, Directora general de la Unidad de Búsqueda de Personas Dadas por Desaparecidas (UBPD) de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP) in Colombia. Luz Marina Monzón Cifuentes will be discussing (in Spanish) the work she has been doing over the past five years with UBPD in directing, coordinating, and contributing to the efforts to investigate the disappearance of thousands of people during the armed conflict in Colombia. The meeting will take place on Wednesday November 2, 2022, from 4:00 to 5:00pm at Y115. Please use the following link to register for the meeting: https://forms.gle/JE4ECdhtF8y4peiH6.Read more
The newly published book "Gender and International Criminal Law," co-edited by WCRO Director Susana SáCouto, Valerie Oosterveld, and Indira Rosenthal, receives the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG) Scholarship Prize for Best Book. The prize recognizes excellence in international scholarship surrounding women and girls, gender, and feminist topics.Read more
The War Crimes Research Office, in partnership with AU International Law Review, hosts a luncheon panel on "Assessing International Justice: Ukraine and Beyond" as part of the International Legal Studies Program's 40th Anniversary Celebrations. WCRO Director Susana SáCouto moderates the panel, which features video remarks by Karim A. A. Khan KC (Prosecutor of the ICC), followed by remarks by Judge Ivana Hrdlicková (President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon), Diane Orentlicher (Professor of Law, AUWCL), Christian De Vos (Director of Research and Investigations at Physicians for Human Rights).
The Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights hosts the U.S. book launch for the newly released book, Gender and International Criminal Law, co-edited by WCRO Director Susana SáCouto, Indira Rosenthal, and Valerie Oosterveld. The book's three editors will discuss the key gaps in the understanding of gender within international criminal law. This event will be in person for the Cardozo community and will be online via zoom for the public. Register for the event:Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto attends the Women and International Law conference gathered at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law on October 13-14. The event features discussion of the contributions for the forthcoming “Handbook on Women and International Law,” to be published by Oxford University Press. Director SáCouto serves as a panelist, presenting on "Feminist Approaches to Victim Witnesses and Victim Participants in Atrocity Crime Trials for Sexual and Other Forms of Gender-based Violence: Lessons Learned from Domestic Prosecutions in Latin America."
Interested in representing WCL in international criminal law (ICL) and humanitarian law (IHL) competitions? If you are an upper-level J.D. or LL.M. student, come learn more about the Jean-Pictet International Humanitarian Law Competition, Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition, and ICC Moot Court Competition on October 10, 2022, from 12:00-1:00pm in Y403! Register for the event:Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto discusses the possibility of prosecuting Russian leaders with atrocity crimes and aggression in the context of the war in Ukraine in an interview by Radio Free Europe's Expose programme, entitled "Prosecution of Russian leaders - difficult, but possible".Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto joins Claudia Martin, the co-director of the Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at AUWCL, and Daniela Kravetz, a lawyer specializing in human rights, international criminal law, and gender violence, to discuss the Latin American Network of Strategic Gender Litigation that emerged as a result of their conference at Bellagio Center in 2017. Scroll down Bulletin to access their story at:Read more
Sydney Centre for International Law hosts a launch of the book "Gender and International Criminal Law" co-edited by Prof. Susana SáCouto, Prof. Valerie Oosterveld and Indira Rosenthal. In the panel, participants heard from some of the book's Australian authors and participated in a live 'question and answer' session with all panelists.
New and returning students are invited to come hear about the War Crimes Research Office's work and how they can get involved, including volunteer work, research as a Dean's Fellow or ICL practicum student, the Hague program, moot courts and more. The event will take place on September 1st at noon in Yuma Building classroom Y402. Register for the event:Read more
On July 14, 2022, Oxford University Press published Gender and International Criminal Law, edited by Prof. SáCouto with Prof. Valerie Oosterveld and Indira Rosenthal. The book provides an in-depth examination of how gender is perceived and analyzed in international criminal law, identifies key gaps in the understanding of gender within international criminal law, and offers recommendations for how gender, including sexual violence and other gender-based crimes, can be more meaningfully addressed by international courts and tribunals.Read more
On July 6, 2022, WCRO Director SáCouto serves as a panelist on a panel organized by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) entitled "Justice and Accountability for Khmer Rouge Atrocities: Perspectives from the United States and Cambodia." This event was part of a series highlighting themes from “Imagine: Reflections on Peace,” a multimedia exhibit from USIP and the VII Foundation that explores the themes and challenges of peacebuilding through an immersive look at societies that suffered — and survived — violent conflict. The recording of the session is available at:Read more
On May 18, Professor Susana SáCouto was interviewed by Chris Rogers on BBC World News about the mechanisms for bringing Russian military officials and personnel to justice for crimes committed during the war in Ukraine.
WCRO Director SáCouto is interviewed for an article by Jesse Greenspan, entitled: "What Is a War Crime?" For centuries—and especially since World War II—countries have attempted to define the rules of war and determine punishment for violators.Read more
WCRO Director SáCouto is interviewed on KPCC - NPR News for Southern California AirTalk with Larry Mantle in a segment on: The Latest On Ukraine, Plus Is Putin Committing War Crimes?Read more
Together with WCL alumna Ali Boyd JD’19, Prof. SáCouto coached a team of students - Michelina Partipilo, Isabella Zink, and Maria Pantano, accompanied by researcher Karine Ghazaryan – to compete in the 2022 Regional Round for the Americas and Caribbean of the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition. Competing against 14 other teams (including Georgetown University Law Center, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Emory University School of Law, University of Miami School of Law, William &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; Mary Law, and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law), the WCL team finished as semi-finalists and Isabella Zink received Best Defense Advocate in the Preliminary Rounds.
In a pre-launch event of Gender and International Criminal Law, WCRO Director Susana SáCouto, University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law Professor Valerie Oosterveld and gender, human rights and ICL expert Indira Rosenthal joined leading feminist international criminal and humanitarian law practitioners to discuss misconceptions concerning gender in the prosecution of sexual violence and gender-based crimes in international criminal law (ICL). The side event was part of the 20th Annual Session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute held this December and co-hosted by the representatives of Uruguay, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland to the Netherlands; the International Gender Champions in The Hague; and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. View a recording of the panel discussion at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jX9iYVTxPw. Read more in the press release:Read more
In recognition of the International Day of Democracy on September 15, the UN Agora Blog published Professor Susana SáCouto’s analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing the ICC as it welcomes the Court’s third prosecutor, Karim Kahn. Now in its 19th year, SáCouto notes that the Court is confronted by issues of legitimacy and serious financial constraints. Read the full analysis:Read more
WCRO Director Susana SáCouto presents at the June 2021 UNDP Annual Meeting on the importance of sustained advocacy around the implementation of reparations ordered by a Guatemalan federal court in its groundbreaking 2016 verdict in the Sepur Zarco case. The decision marked one of the first convictions of former military members for acts of sexual violence committed in the context of the country’s civil war, and one of the first instances of a domestic court anywhere prosecuting sexual slavery as an international crime. Professor SáCouto stressed the role of victim-centered advocacy in the case’s successful litigation. And she emphasized the need for the international community’s continued public pressure on the government to fully implement promised reparations. Watch Professor SáCouto’s virtual presentation and find recordings of additional sessions from the Annual Meeting here. Learn more about WCRO’s partnership with UN Women to document good practice on accountability for conflict-related sexual violence in Guatemala.Read more
Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, was welcomed by AUWCL's War Crimes Research Office, under the direction of Professor Susana SáCouto. Speaking on a virtual panel, Mr. Ferencz reflected on his career, and inspired today's advocates for international justice to “never give up, never give up, never give up!” Watch a recording of the panel discussion:Read more
On behalf of WCRO, Professors Susana SáCouto and Diane Orentlicher submitted comments in May to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor on the Court’s Draft Policy on Cultural Heritage. The professors’ comments urged the explicit inclusion of “archives” in the ICC’s conception of cultural heritage, as archives have played an indispensable role in advancing transitional and historical justice.Read more
The War Crimes Research Office, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and Women and the Law Program are thrilled to partner with UN Women on the “Documenting Good Practice on Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Guatemala” Project.Read more
The War Crimes Research Office (WCRO) and Ferencz International Justice Initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will host a screening of The Prosecutors on March 20, 2019 at 12:00 PM at American University Washington College of Law. The film follows the lives of three prosecutors in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina who have dedicated their lives to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict. The event will feature introductions by WCRO Director Susana SáCouto and the film’s director, Leslie Thomas, followed by a screening of the film. Kelley Currie, head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the U.S. Department of State, will offer reflections following the film. Leslie Thomas, Professor SáCouto, and Ferencz Initiative Director Anna Cave will then take questions from the audience. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please RSVP at:Read more
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the War Crimes Research Office of American University Washington College of Law reaffirm their commitment to end impunity for sexual violence in conflict and other situations of violence in Latin America.Read more
On April 4, 2018, the WCRO and Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law hosted the launch of Professor Diane Orentlicher's new book, "Some Kind of Justice: The ICTY's Impact on Bosnia and Serbia," featuring a panel discussion with moderated by NPR's Tom Gjelten with Professor Orentlicher, Ivana Cvetkovic Bajrovic of the National Endowment for Democracy, and Dapo Akande of the University of Oxford.Read more
The WCRO continues to enhance its educational program at WCL with the War Crimes Speakers Series, an informal forum for discussion with practitioners and other experts involved in the work of the various tribunals.
In March 2016, the WCRO hosted a conference on Prosecuting Serious International Crimes: Exploring the Intersections between International and Domestic Justice Efforts in celebration of its 20th anniversary to was to broaden the conversation about effective accountability mechanisms between the transitional justice and rule of law communities.Read more
On February 1, 2012, the War Crimes Research Office and the Women and International Law Program co-hosted a conference with the Embassy of The Netherlands on the challenges faced by women in conflict and post-conflict situations.Read more
This two-day conference brought together experts in international criminal law and feminist jurisprudence to examine advances and missed opportunities in the prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes before the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc and hybrid criminal tribunals.Read more