From 2002-2005, the Office asssited the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor, part of the work of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste.
The core task of the WCRO is to provide legal research and analysis to international criminal justice mechanisms on cutting-edge issues of international criminal and humanitarian law. Although the WCRO’s commitment to confidentiality precludes the Office from describing the exact nature of the research, each project involves a complex set of issues requiring comprehensive legal analysis.
Supporting Emerging International Justice Mechanisms
The WCRO has also played a prominent role in initiatives relating to the establishment of new internationalized criminal justice mechanisms. For instance, the Office was integrally involved in forming a coalition of non-governmental organizations, now convened under the auspices of the Coalition for International Justice and the Open Society Justice Initiative, working to ensure that the proposed Extraordinary Chambers for Cambodia provides a fair and credible process of accountability for Khmer Rouge-era atrocities. In collaboration with this Working Group and the Open Society Justice Initiative, the WCRO has helped produced the following reports:
- International Standards for the Nomination of Judges to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea , February 2004;
- Lessons Learned: Start-up Phase of Extraordinary Chambers for Prosecution under Cambodian Law of Crimes Committed during the Khmer Rouge Period (EC), July 2003.
- International Standards for the Protection of Witnesses and Victims at the Extraordinary Chambers in Cambodia
Training and Seminars
The WCRO periodically conducts trainings on issues of international criminal and humanitarian law. For example, the WCRO organized training seminars in international criminal and humanitarian law for judicial and prosecutorial personnel of the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor. In anticipation of these seminars, the WCRO developed and distributed to each participant a 160-page Discussion Guide on international criminal and humanitarian law specifically tailored to the subject matter jurisdiction of the Special Panels. A judge of the Special Panels later described the Discussion Guide prepared by the WCRO as “important foundational reading for anyone working in this field.”
Public Education and Advocacy
As a byproduct of its work for the tribunals and other clients, the WCRO and its staff have served as key resources for government officials, UN bodies, NGOs, the media, and others engaged in various international humanitarian law initiatives. The WCRO staff are frequently called upon to participate in programs relating to the development and enforcement of international humanitarian law convened by such institutions as the American Society of International Law, the International Law Association, and the International Bar Association.
In partnership with the Women in International Law Program at WCL, the WCRO also hosts the Gender Jurisprudence Collections (GJC), a powerful database containing judgments, decisions, orders, and other relevant documents issued by 12 criminal courts and tribunals with jurisdiction over serious international crimes and the European Court of Human Rights that have been coded and made readily searchable for issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence. Each document in the GJC has been pre-screened by our staff and coded for up to 25 criteria and more than 100 gender and sexual violence-related keywords, eliminating researchers' need to sift through extraneous documents. The broad range of documents included in the GJC captures important decisions from the pre-trial through the appeal stage of proceedings that may go unnoticed but which may have important consequences for how sexual and gender-based violence is addressed by the tribunals. For more information, see the GJC website at Jurisprudence Collections page.
The WCRO also participates in the dissemination of new developments in humanitarian and international criminal law by regularly drafting and publishing summaries of the ICTY and ICTR jurisprudence. It also regularly publishes Status Reports on proceedings before the ICTY, ICTR, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. In addition, WCRO staff periodically provide legal expertise for humanitarian law training events.
As part of our public education activities, the WCRO also hosts a War Crimes Speakers Series, which brings experts and practitioners in various aspects of international criminal and humanitarian law to the WCL campus for discussions with the students and invited members of the public. See our events section for a list of past speakers.