Dear Alumni and Friends of the WCRO,
As we close out 2018, we are reminded that dismantling the legal culture of impunity is often a difficult and lengthy process. The War Crimes Research Office remains steadfast in its mission to support accountability for grave crimes and greater access to justice for victims of these crimes, and we wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the ways in which we carried out our mission this past year.
- Through our Gender and International Criminal Law Project, we provided prosecutors, judges, advocates, and other stakeholders with resources, tools, and strategies for combatting widespread impunity for conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based crimes (SVG). In addition to expanding the Gender Jurisprudence Collections (GJC) database, which is searchable in three different languages and now includes nearly 34,000 case documents individually coded for gender issues, WCRO staff conducted two missions to the Central African Republic (CAR) to provide specialized training to Special Criminal Court staff, CAR magistrates, and civil society organizations representing SVG victims.
- We provided specialized legal and technical assistance to justice system actors on cutting-edge issues in international criminal law, including:
- Amicus curiae brief on forced sterilizations as a crime against humanity for submission to public prosecutor in Peru;
- Amicus curiae briefs, together with the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Co-Director Claudia Martin, in the case of Linda Loaiza López Soto v. Venezuela before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and in the El Mozote case before a first instance court in El Salvador;
- Comments to the International Law Commission on the Draft Crimes Against Humanity Treaty; and
- Several memoranda of law for hybrid and regional bodies in Europe and Africa.
- The WCRO undertook a substantial revitalization of its Afghanistan Documentation Project database, which makes searchable publicly available reports and documents relating to atrocities committed in Afghanistan since 1978. The new ADP site is expected to launch in early 2019, and will include information about more than 8,000 incidents of human rights and humanitarian law violations.
- We organized and held the 12th Annual Summer Law Program in The Hague, an intensive 4-week program focused on international criminal law and counterterrorism, in which students have an opportunity to live and learn among the practitioners, courts, and tribunals that are making history today. We kicked off the program with a surprise visit from Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials!
- We hosted a number of events as part of the War Crimes Speaker Series and participated in a number of other events on current issues in ICL, including:
- The launch of Professor Diane Orentlicher’s new book, Some Kind of Justice: The ICTY’s Impact on Bosnia and Serbia;
- A congressional briefing for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission titled “Rome Statute at 20: An Assessment”;
- An American Society of International Law panel on “U.S. Engagement with Atrocity Prevention and the International Criminal Court”;
- WCL’s Conference on Reparation to Individuals for Violations of International Human Rights; and
- A discussion hosted by the Swiss Embassy in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Throughout the year, students have been integrally involved in the activities of the office:
- Fourteen students supported the WCRO’s confidential and public research projects through the International Criminal Law (ICL) Practicum, Dean’s Fellowships, or independent studies.
- Six students selected and coached by the WCRO represented WCL in ICL and international humanitarian law competitions. Katherine Holcombe (JD ’18), Emma Marion (JD ’19), and Carly Nuttal (JD ’19) placed second at the Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition in Washington, DC in March.
- Over thirty students volunteered to write posts on news and jurisprudential developments coming out of international and other tribunals tasked with trying grave crimes for the International Criminal Law Updates blog.
As we look ahead to 2019, I invite you to make a gift in support of the WCRO’s efforts to secure access to justice for victims of grave crimes. When you arrive on the donation page, please be sure to select the WCRO under “show additional designations.” Your contribution will ensure that we can continue to assist practitioners on the ground, prepare the next generation of lawyers to join the fight for international justice, and enable public debate of critical issues in the field.
Warm wishes to you this holiday season,
Susana SáCouto, Director