‘International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads’ on 17 May

On Friday 17 May 2019, CICJ will organize a one-day conference entitled ‘International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads: Reflecting upon the Past, Discussing the Present, and Imagining the Future at VU University Amsterdam.

In July 1998, with loud ovations, diplomats and activists celebrated the adoption of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). Set up in 2002 in the footsteps of various ad hoc international and hybrid criminal tribunals, the ICC was welcomed with great anticipation and high hopes as a global institution that would speak justice to power, hold perpetrators accountable and satisfy victims of the most serious crimes of international concern. Twenty years later, some say that international criminal justice is in crisis. The ICC is facing increasing criticism from States, academia and commentators. Not only is the Court’s case record relatively meagre, but the difficulties relating to issues such as witness interference, political influences, and a lack of state cooperation, make future prospects of the Court challenging. Calls for justice after mass atrocity crimes from victims, activists and others, however, are not likely to dissipate.

This one-day event brings together different generations of practitioners and scholars studying, observing and practicing international criminal justice. During interactive roundtable sessions, the discussants will reflect upon the past, discuss how to address the current challenges, and imagine the future of criminal justice after atrocities.

The programme can be found below.

Friday 17 May 2019

VU University Amsterdam, Auditorium (route description)


8.30 – 9.15     Coffee

9.15 – 9.30     Opening

9.30 – 10.30   Keynote: Christine van den Wyngaert Former Judge ICC, ICTY; Judge, Kosovo Specialist Chambers

10.30 – 11.00 Coffee

11.00 – 12.30 Roundtable I: ICTY and Lessons of the Past

(Chair: Kate Gibson, Lawyer, St. Philips barristers)

The ICTY was expected to establish a strong system of accountability in the face of mass atrocities of the 1990s. Now that it has closed its doors, we can commemorate its contributions in shaping norms of international justice. However, the ICTY also experienced (unexpected) challenges: it struggled with state cooperation, with the ebbing and flowing of political support in the Balkans. Societies remain divided, and the future of the rule of law is unclear. What can international criminal justice learn from these experiences? In this panel, our speakers will debate successes and failures of the ICTY.

Roundtable participants:

  • Douglas Stringer, Senior Trial Attorney of Intl. Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT)
  • Alphons Orie, Former Judge ICTY; Judge MICT
  • Vladimir Petrovic, Senior Academic Researcher, Boston University
  • Mina Rauschenbach, Researcher, Leuven Institute of Criminology

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 15.00 Roundtable II: ICC and Perils of the Present

(Chair Sergey Vasiliev, Ass. Prof. Criminal Law University of Amsterdam)

Despite its potential, the ICC has so far not been able to deliver the justice that the Court’s founders and supporters have envisioned. The support for the ICC is fading and cases are falling apart. Why has the implementation of the international criminal justice project ‘hit a wall’? What are the major challenges for current institutions seeking justice for international crimes? This roundtable will discuss the ICC, its successes and failures, the present struggles and prospects.

Roundtable participants:

  • Xabier Agirre Aranburu, Senior Analyst, International Criminal Court
  • Mikkel Jarle Christensen, Associate Professor Legal Sociology, iCourts, University of Copenhagen
  • Thierry Cruvellier, Editor-in-chief of JusticeInfo.net
  • Mariana Pena, Senior Legal Officer for international justice, Open Society Justice Initiative, The Hague

15.00 – 15.30 Coffee

15.30 – 17.00  Roundtable III: Imagining the Future- Moving away from The Hague? (Chair Caroline Fournet, Prof. Comparative Criminal Law and Intl. Justice, Groningen University)

After taking stock of the past and present successes, failures and challenges of international criminal courts, it is imperative to look ahead. Diverse models for bringing justice for atrocity crimes are being debated, and traditional criminal courts and tribunals are just one of them. Is the future of accountability for atrocity crimes at the ICC? Or is the global justice to be advanced domestically? What is the role of the international community in ensuring individual criminal accountability for mass atrocity crimes? In this roundtable, we will imagine the future of criminal justice after atrocities, shifting the attention to hybrid, domestic and local contexts.

Roundtable participants:

  • Mark Drumbl, Class of 1975 Alumni Professor at Washington & Lee University
  • Thijs Bouwknegt, Researcher, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
  • Dion van den Berg, Team Leader Pax Europe team, Pax
  • Lily Rueda Guzman, Judge, Special Jurisdiction for Peace, Colombia

17.00 – 17.15 Closing

17.15              Drinks