Global: Replacing Moreno Ocampo at the International Criminal Court

Luis Moreno Ocampo‘s term as the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is coming to an end. The elections for judges are scheduled for the tenth session of the Assembly of States Parties at United Nations Headquarters from the 12-21 December, 2011.

So who might end up replacing Luis Moreno Ocampo as Chief Prosecutor of the ICC? As of the time of writing, the frontrunner is the Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of Gambia.

Other candidates include:

… Andrew Cayley, a co-prosecutor at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia who comes from Britain; Tanzania's Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman; and Robert Petit, a counsel at the crimes against humanity and war crimes section of Canada's Justice Department.

The ECCC court room on 20 July 2009 during testimony of former Khmer Rouge prison guard Him Huy. Courtesy of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

The ECCC court room on 20 July 2009 during testimony of former Khmer Rouge prison guard Him Huy. Courtesy of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

“Any of those four would be an improvement,” Joshua Rozenberg of the BBC's Law in Action writes in response to a query from the author:

@JoshuaRozenberg@efleischer Any of those four would be an improvement. Come to think of it, anyone would be better.

Almost in counterpoint to Rozenberg’s disapproval however, is Bensouda herself. In an interview with The Global Observatory, she stresses the idea of letting the court be the court:

I think one of the strongest arguments to make about not amending or changing anything is, at least let the court go into full cycle, let it try and test all the parts of the statute that we will be dealing with, before you want to amend it.

In reaching out to the online community specifically interested in the International Criminal Court, Jesse Loncraine of IJ Central, an activist organization created by Skylight Pictureswrote that:

If Bensouda takes over, expect a victim driven approach.

And the idea of this ‘victim driven’ approach manifests itself at least within the interview with The Global Observatory:

You should also take note that the ICC is the first international criminal court created that also took into account victim participation. Most of it was as a result of what happened in the ad-hoc tribunals and how the victims felt so helpless, that they are just passive subjects, they are used as witnesses but when it comes to them participating, having their views and concerns, and at the end of the day seeking reparations, it did not happen. It is happening at the ICC. Again, I give examples of the trials that have taken place so far and how the victims have been very active subjects in those trials.


It is not the work of the Office of the Prosecutor, of course, to deal with reparations. It is the judges, and they will decide how they want to decide, and the trust fund for victims will take it up from there. But what we have been doing at the level of the Office of the Prosecutor is see how we can connect situations that can help each other.

Global Voices has previously reported on efforts to bring the British-born Prime Minister of Thailand to the International Criminal Court, Kenyans organizing to show support for the ICC (or texting their votes to save a suspect), the Sudanese blogosphere reacting to the arrest warrant issued against Omar al-Bashir (as well as here), African bloggers reacting to Karadžić’s arrest, the trial of Charles Taylor at the ICJ and more.

One of the issues in dealing with a global institution is to begin to work towards building a global conversation around it; in taking a step back and in reply to being queried as to what he thinks about the court, Ahron Young, the Melbourne Bureau Chief for Sky News, writes:

I agree that people in corrupt countries need to do something and the ICC offers at least some hope that something can be done.

Jahanzaib Haque, web editor for The Express Tribune, writes:

I don't have a strong opinion about the ICC, but I am a believer in justice without borders, and the ICC is a (flawed) necessary step in the right direction towards a unified, cosmopolitan existence for all.

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