Learning About International Law at the ICC
Posted 05/04/2019 12:42

Written by Skander Lejmi (Yr 10C)

On Wednesday 3rd April, the students of the International School of The Hague participating in the Challenger program went on an excursion to the International Criminal Court headquarters based here in The Hague. The visit gave us insight into international law, justice and the operation of an intergovernmental organization. We learned that the ICC is one of the international organizations attempting to maintain global peace by prosecuting individuals that have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and/or crimes of aggression (as of recently). 

We were honored to listen to three speakers. The first speaker, Matias Hellman, is an external relations advisor at the presidency of the ICC, which happens to be one of the three primary organs of the organization. Mr. Hellman gave us an in-depth explanation of the ICC’s purpose, its history and all of its jurisdictions, allowing for a greater understanding of international justice. He explained both its structure (the constituent organs) and its operation. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of the Rome Statute and how international justice isn’t merely accomplished because states have not signed it.


The second speaker that came shortly after was Mr. Ambach. He was the Chief of Victims Participation and Reparations Section in the Registry of the ICC. Mr. Ambach provided a more detailed account of how victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and crimes of aggression are supported by the organization. 

We discussed the complexity of providing aid and reparation to victims and the obstructions encountered. For instance, when the perpetrator is financially unable to pay for reparation costs or when the evidence collected by the office of the prosecutor suggests one particular crime has been committed, that would only pertain to one particular group of victims. This allows the victims to stand witness in trial and demand reparations from the perpetrator, however, not everyone has the privilege to do that.  

Finally, we were honored to speak to the Senior Trial Lawyer in the Office of the Prosecutor, Mr Jean-Jacques Badibanga. He gave us an inside look into the prosecution, given his expertise therein. The jurisdictions that the ICC were repeatedly mentioned, further accentuating how important they truly are. In addition to this, the process of holding a perpetrator accountable was thoroughly described, from having the case to the ICC referred through to the actual trials.

Conclusively, towards the last few minutes of our time with Mr. Badibanga, we discussed the importance not merely of the ICC but of the multitudinous intergovernmental organizations operating in the mutual pursuit of peace and how important participating herein is.

The excursion to the ICC gave us an in-depth look into the operation of one of the largest intergovernmental organizations and it allowed us to reflect on how we, as an international community can ensure justice, lawful action and hopefully, ultimately, unending peace. 

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