Our experiences as the first CICJ Global Diversity Fellows

From mid-May to mid-June 2017, the first Global Diversity Fellows stayed at the CICJ. The Fellowship offers talented young scholars and professionals from developing and/or (post-)conflict countries an opportunity to work on their research and expand their network. In December 2016, the first two fellows were selected: Prativa Khanal from Nepal and Jesse Mugero from Uganda. Below they tell about their experiences as the first CICJ Global Diversity Fellows.

Prativa Khanal (Nepal)

The Global Diversity Fellowship at the Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ) in Amsterdam provided me with an opportunity to work and live in Netherlands for one month. I have no words to thank the Center for providing me with such an opportunity, without which I would not have otherwise got access to professionals, scholars and practitioners at well-established universities, research centers, and international criminal tribunals in The Hague.
During my one-month fellowship, I conducted my research on the topic ‘A South Asian perspective on the Ratification of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’. The final presentation of the research was done during the International Criminal Law and Criminology (ICLC) Seminar among various experts on the issue. However, the full publishable piece of the research is still to be finalized.

IMG_20170517_144309Further, the fellowship also proved to be valuable because of my co-fellow Jesse from Uganda whose research project was on the Enforced Disappearances in Uganda. Learning the context, both of us also compared the situation of enforced disappearances and the government initiatives in Nepal and Uganda.

Besides my own research project, I attended numerous events and organizations at the Netherlands including The Hague, which is known as the legal capital of the world. I got a chance to attend the hearing of Dominic Onwgen at the ICC followed by a short meeting with one of the Visiting Professionals at the ICC itself. I was blissful to see the international court functioning in reality while it was only a theory to me before this fellowship. Similarly, I also visited the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Peace Palace including the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

IMG_20170602_140428I also had some high-level meetings with representatives from the organizations like the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), Immigration Office and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) where I talked about Nepal and relevant issues in South Asia. With organizations like ICMP and EFSAS, I also explored some possibilities of future collaboration.

Various events and seminars on international criminal justice and transitional justice held at T.M.C. Asser Institute, Leiden University and Utrecht University have broadened my horizon on these issues alongside developing professional networks with professionals, which I believe is very constructive to my career.

To conclude, this fellowship has been one of my greatest achievements and experiences during my entire life and I am proud to be a part of the Center which comprises of various experts and intellectuals in international criminal justice.

Jesse Mugero (Uganda)

I arrived in Amsterdam on 12th May 2017. I was looking forward to the new adventure at the CICJ as the first Global Diversity fellow. The month-long experience has been an enriching learning and cross-cultural experience.
During this time, I got to meet my co-fellow Prativa from Nepal. This gave me an opportunity for me to learn about her country’s history and transitional justice processes and work experiences. I also learned a lot from her research project on the status of the ratification of the Rome statute by countries in South Asia. I found her research to be a breath of fresh air into the international criminal justice arena which is currently dominated by the debate with African countries wanting to pull out of the Rome Statute.

Justice and Jesse Mugero

Justice Sebutinde and Jesse Mugero

I attended several events in the Hague which is considered the home of International law and found these very informative and inspiring. I had the opportunity to meet with Justice Sebutinde at the International Court of Justice and was able to see International law at work. During the time of my visit, the ICJ had just concluded making a judgement in the Jadhav case involving India and Pakistan.

I also had an opportunity to visit the International criminal Court and was able to observe proceeding in the case of Ongwen. During my visit, the defence counsel was cross examining a witness to ascertain the veracity of certain facts. Occasionally the session would be closed for privacy of the information being discussed.

IMG_20170609_151714I also had the opportunity to interview staff at the International Commission on Missing Persons to find out the practical challenges and experiences in dealing with the crime of enforced disappearances. This was an important interview because it was feeding directly into my research on the transitional justice response to the crime of enforced disappearances in Uganda.

The experience was not only academic but also gave me a chance to experience other wonderful things that Amsterdam has to offer. I attended a bethel music concert and found a community of faith at the Hill song church.

My experience in Amsterdam at the CICJ was memorable and I believe it has laid a foundation for me to grow in knowledge in the subject of criminology and also develop my career further as a transitional justice practioner.