CHAUTAUQUA - Nine international prosecutors gathered at Chautauqua on Tuesday to reaffirm the promises made in the Chautauqua Declaration five years ago.
Those who were not familiar with the event taking place at the Athenaeum Hotel may have mistaken the building for some sort of embassy, as a handful of languages were audible before the afternoon renewal of the declaration.
This is because nearly every single continent was represented at the event, either as a prosecutor or as a guest.
The event began with an address delivered by Elizabeth Andersen, representative of the American Society of International Law, and followed with the reaffirmation of the Chautauqua Declaration by the highly lauded board of international prosecutors.
The original Chautauqua Declaration, which was issued in 2007 stated that, "The challenge for states and for the international community is to fulfill the promise of the law they created; to enforce judicial decision and to ensure the arrest and surrender of sought individuals ..."
To begin, Andersen gave the American Society of International Law's purpose for supporting the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues.
H.W. William Caming
discusses his opinions on the Chautauqua Declaration and international humanitarian law.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
"I can think of few activities of the society that better serve our mission than cosponsoring these dialogues," said Andersen. "The opportunity to bring together experts in our field for careful discussion and debate ... and disseminating that information to broad constituencies of international law, that is what we are all about.
"We are impatient for justice, as we should be," continued Andersen. "Sometimes the process seems too slow, too compromised, but when we reflect on the legacy of the special court for Sierra Leone, we can take satisfaction in progress made, lessons learned ... and now pass it on to future processes. ... It is for that stock-taking of lessons learned and progress made, and to rededicate ourselves to the work that remains and inspire the next generation to carry it on that we convene the dialogues ..."
Following Andersen's address, the board of prosecutors reaffirmed and commented on the Chautauqua Declaration. The board consisted of: Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court; Serge Brammertz, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; H.W. William Caming, United States Military Tribunal of Nuremberg; David Crane, Special Court for Sierra Leone; Sir Desmond de Silva, Special Court for Sierra Leone; Brenda J Hollis, Special Court for Sierra Leone; Hassan Jallow, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; William Smith, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; Ekkehard Withopf, Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
When given the opportunity to say a few words about their accomplishments in arresting and prosecuting international war criminals, many took the opportunity to speak of the future, rather than of their many, many collective accomplishments.
"After nine years of activities, there is much we have achieved," said Bensouda. "However, our work is far from over. We are facing many challenges, including outstanding warrants against 12 individuals."
"I am a bit concerned as an American," said Crane, "the United States of America has built a wonderful house beginning in 1945. It has built a house on which we seek justice for those at-large. Yet, as I look out into the not-so-distant future, particularly in the next five years, as (several tribunal courts) close, my question is: how many Americans will be a part of modern international criminal law? You won't see anymore American chief prosecutors or judges or registrars or someone who had a leadership role in these courts, because they are all closed. So as we walk out of the house we built and close the door, within five or six years, we will only be able to look through the window of that house we built. ... That's what international justice is about: the camaraderie and teamwork of building something together under extreme circumstances and then watching it with colleagues."
"I've had the privilege of listening to the words of remarkable men and women here in this room," said Sir Desmond de Silva. "I leave Chautauqua with the renewed hope that I will see, and we will see, victory and justice over evil and the triumph of victims over despots. That is what we are here to achieve."
Following the prosecutors' comments, the audience gave a standing ovation which lasted for no less than a minute. The conclusion of the reaffirmation of the Chautauqua Declaration marks the end of the three-day ceremony of the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues.