Event: Hidden Genocides – Summer Course

Date: 12 – 31 July 2015

Venue: Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam

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The Twentieth Century was considered, by many scholars who study political violence, “the century of genocide” with the Holocaust as the epitome of industrial and mechanical violence. Yet there were many genocides before and after that.

The question rises “what is genocide”? How does it differ from other forms of collective violence? What triggers genocide? Why are the acts during genocide so gruesome? What is the cultural of genocide? What are the consequences of its legal definition? Why do people perpetuate genocide?

These and more questions will be answered during this course. We will thereby not only look at familiar cases of genocide, like the Holocaust, Rwanda and Srebenica, but also “hidden” and unknown genocides and the mass atrocities happening right now in South Sudan, Central Africa and Syria/ North Iraq. This course will give you an analytical model to understand and study genocide and measure proper interventions. Continue reading

ICJ Dismisses Croatian and Serbian Genocide Claims

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice

Today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected the claim of Croatia that Serbia committed genocide in Croatia in 1991, as well as the counter-claim by Serbia that the expulsion of more than 200,000 Serbs from Croatia constituted genocide.

Judge Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, said that although both sides had carried out violent acts during the war, neither side had provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate the specific intent required for acts of genocide.

Both countries relied on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) for contending that the other country had committed genocide. The fact that the claims were based only on the Genocide Convention, implied that the Court had no power to rule on alleged breaches of other obligations under international law, not amounting to genocide, particularly those protecting human rights in armed conflict. Continue reading

ICTY: Appeals Chamber Upholds Convictions in the Popović et al. Case

ICTY

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Today, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) completed its largest case to date. The Appeals Chamber issued its Judgment in the Popović et al case, upholding the convictions of five senior Bosnian Serbian military officials for crimes perpetrated by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 following the takeover of the protected areas of Srebrenica and Žepa.

The case concerned crimes committed in July 1995 after the fall of Srebrenica and Žepa in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Trial proceedings involved a total of seven accused, who were convicted for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of wars, in part through several Joint Criminal Enterprises. Five of the accused appealed to the judgment of the Trial Chamber. Continue reading

Event: The Armenian Genocide Legacy, 100 Years On

ArmeniaThe centennial of the Armenian Genocide will be the topic of a two-day conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 6 and 7 March 2015, at The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

This major interdisciplinary gathering will bring together academics and professionals from various fields to discuss the impact of the Genocide in various fields of study. Experts will examine such issues as impunity, sexual violence, demographics, compensation, memorializing, political discourse and media approaches.

Keynote speaker, Ronald Suny, will open the conference (Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago and University of Michigan).

He will be followed by experts in the field of Law (Geoffrey Robertson – QC, Susan L. Karamanian, Nolwenn Guibert, Sun Kim, Najwa Nabti, Alexis Demirdjian, Hannibal Travis), historians (Ugur Umit Ungor, Jakub Bijak, Lorne Shirinian), experts in social sciences and humanities (Levon Chorbajian, Seyhan Bayraktar, Nanor Kebranian, Ayda Erbal, Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous, Anthonie Holslag), experts in literature, media and journalism (Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Lisa Siraganian, Esra Elmas, Marie-Aude Baronian), and education (Joyce Sahyouni).

The conference is organised and sponsored by the Centennial Project Foundation, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the University of Southern California Dornsife Institute for Armenian Studies.

Additional information and participants’ bio is available here.

Contact details may be found on the website.  The conference is open to the public, free of charge. Advanced registration will open on 6 February 2015.

UN Commission Wants International Tribunal to Prosecute Perpetrators in Central African Republic

CAR Commission

Fatimata M’Baye (right) and Philip Alston, two members of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic (c)Loey Felipe

Two members of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic (CAR), yesterday called for the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes committed in CAR.

Fatimata M’Baye and Philip Alston, two of the UN Commission’s three members, reported that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been widely committed by all parties in the ongoing conflict.

M’Baye and Alston warned that “unless the world pays attention and holds perpetrators accountable, the situation in CAR could very much spiral into genocide.”

According to the latest report of the Commission, the UN is currently in negotiations to establish a criminal court to prosecute ‘political players’ who have committed crimes against humanity.

“If that goes ahead we are extremely concerned in making sure that a majority of the judges must come from the international community…We do not believe that national judges have that type of independence,” law professor Alston said.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened investigations into atrocities committed in CAR since 2012. However, according to Mbaye, the ICC can only prosecute a few top leaders and there is a need for justice on a much larger scale.

More than two years of civil war and sectarian violence resulted in the killing of at least 5,000 people. According to UN estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced inside the country while some 190,000 have sought asylum across the borders.

ICJ: Judgment in the Croatia vs Serbia Genocide Case on 3 February 2015

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will render its Judgment in the Croatia versus Serbia Genocide case on 3 February 2015, between 10:00 and 13:00.

In 1999, Croatia instituted proceedings before the ICJ against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia) for violations of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Croatia alleged that between 1991 and 1995, Serbia committed genocide relating to Croatia’s war of independence following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.

In 2010 Serbia filed a counter-suit, alleging that Croatia committed genocide during and after Operation Storm when some 200,000 ethnic Serbs were forced to leave Croatia in 1995 when Zagreb launched a military operation to retake its territory.

iLawyer Wayne Jordash QC is Counsel for the Republic of Serbia (along with Professors William Schabas, Andreas Zimmerman, Christian Tams and others).

ECCC: Nuon Chea’s Defence Files Appeal Brief

Nuon CheaLast week, on 29 December 2014, the defence team of the Khmer Rouge regime’s former chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, filed a full appeal against the 88-year-old’s life sentence and convictions for crimes against humanity.

Raising 223 grounds of appeal, Nuon Chea requested an acquittal on all charges for which he and Khieu Samphan were convicted in Case 002/01 by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in August 2014.

The 270-page long appeal brief sets out numerous flaws in the criminal proceedings and in the trial judgment.

The brief first highlights two issues that have plagued the investigation: pervasive political interference and a biased flawed investigative approach of the Co-Investigating Judges.

Nuon Chea’s lawyers alleged that “the lack of independence and impartiality permeating the investigation were equally apparent before the Trial Chamber.” According to the defence, the Trial Chamber is “deeply biased” against the Accused and incapable of impartially assessing the evidence (appeal grounds 3 & 4).

The defence based this claim on a careful and detailed analysis of the judgment, which reveals, according to the Appeals brief, that a substantial portion of the findings are, or would be reasonably perceived to be attributable to a pre-disposition against the accused, and not genuinely related to the application of law, or to the assessment of the relevant facts. Continue reading

Palestine to join ICC on April 1

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki leaves the ICC at the Hague ©Reuters

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki leaves the ICC at the Hague ©Reuters

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has officially announced that Palestine will join the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, 2015. The Palestinians submitted the documents ratifying the Rome Statute last Friday, January 2.

In addition, the Palestinian government lodged a declaration to the ICC Registrar, Herman von Hebel, under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute stating Palestine’s acceptance of the jurisdiction of the ICC since 13 June 2014. The jurisdiction ratione temporis of the ICC over crimes committed in Palestine could therefore cover both Operations Brother’s Keeper and Protective Edge.

To date, 122 countries have ratified the Rome Statute, with the notable exceptions of the United States and Israel.

Palestine Signs the Statute of the International Criminal Court

Mahmoud AbbasLast Wednesday, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He signed the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, at a Ramallah meeting.

However, the International Criminal Court will only acquire jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide on Palestinian territory when Palestine will have ratified the Rome Statute.

The signature follows the rejection of a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by late 2017.

Eight members of the Security Council voted for that resolution, while it needed the support of at least nine members in order to pass.

“We want to complain. There’s aggression against us, against our land ” […] “The Security Council disappointed us”, Mr Abbas said.

The Palestinian Authority sought to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC back in May 2009 by way of an Article 12(3) declaration. In April 2012, the Office of the Prosecutor determined that since Palestine was an “observer entity,” it could not ratify the Rome Statute.

In November 2012, the UN upgraded Palestine’s membership status to that of a non-observer member state. Writing in an op-ed for The Guardian in August 2014, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that the effect of this upgraded status was such that Palestine could now join the Rome Statute.

First MICT Appeals Judgment in Rwandan Genocide case

Augustin Ngirabatware

Augustin Ngirabatware

Today, the Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) delivered its first appeals judgment in the case of Augustin Ngirabatware v. The Prosecutor. President of the Appeals Chamber, Judge Theodor Meron delivered a summary of the judgment in Arusha, Tanzania, in the case of Rwanda’s former Minister of Planning, Mr. Augustin Ngirabatware.

The Appeals judgment originated from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)’s final trial judgment, delivered on 20 December 2012. With this judgment, the Trial Chamber had convicted Mr Ngirabatware for direct and public incitement to commit genocide, genocide and rape as a crime against humanity.

This morning, the Appeals Chamber unanimously affirmed Ngirabatware’s conviction for direct and public incitement to commit genocide. A majority of the Appeals Chamber also affirmed Ngirabatware’s conviction for instigating and aiding and abetting genocide. However, it held that that the Trial Chamber had erred in convicting Mr Ngirabatware for rape as a crime against humanity pursuing to the extended form of Joint Criminal Enterprise.

The Trial Chamber had convicted Ngirabatware pursuant to the extended form of JCE (JCE III) in relation to the repeated rape of a Tutsi woman in april 1994 by two members of the Joint Criminal Enterprise. As a quick reminder: the third, and most controversial, category of the Joint Criminal Enterprise, provides that all participants who had the intend to participate in the common design of the Joint Criminal Enterprise can be held criminally responsible for acts that fall outside of the common plan or purpose of the JCE if such acts are a “natural and foreseeable consequence of the effecting of that common purpose and if the defendant was reckless or indifferent to that risk.” Continue reading