New Judges and a Presidential Vote at The Hague

ICC fact-finding mission
In January 2012, International Criminal Court judges visited Ituri, in the eastern region of Congo, to see the villages where alleged war crimes were committed by Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. © ICC-CPI

The International Criminal Court will swear in six new judges on March 9 and elect, by absolute majority, a new president of the court and two new vice presidents.

The court’s 18 judges will vote in the election, with several most likely to run for the three-year presidency themselves, though the incumbent, Judge Sang-Hyun Song of South Korea, has an advantage, says a source close to the court. The two current vice presidents are Fatoumata Dembele Diarra of Mali and Hans-Peter Kaul of Germany. The president administers the work of the court, and the six new judges were voted into office in December 2011.

On June 16, the court will install its new chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, for a nine-year term. Bensouda, a 50-year-old Gambian and the deputy prosecutor, replaces the ICC’s first and only prosecutor since it began in 2002, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine who has raised the court’s profile from a fledgling international judicial body to an independent arbiter trying the world’s most serious criminal cases.

The court is governed by the Rome Statute, which has been ratified by 120 countries, not including the United States. Its first trial, prosecuting Thomas Lubanga, a warlord who is accused of using child soldiers in a bloody conflict over gold and land in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is expecting a verdict in March.

A replacement for Bensouda

Bensouda is also soliciting applications for deputy prosecutor; she can pick three candidates, and once she is chief prosecutor in June, she forwards the choices to the governing body, which votes on the candidate in November at the court’s base in The Hague, Netherlands.

The candidates will probably be drawn from the original nominees for the prosecutor’s office: Andrew Cayley of Britain, a prosecutor for the United Nations tribunal trying former Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia; and Robert Petit, a war crimes specialist in the Canadian justice department.

Moreno-Ocampo is said to be considering teaching after his term is up, but at least one law school in the rumor mill,  New York University, confirmed that he is not on the roster there this fall.

[This article was updated on Feb. 22, 2012.]


Additional resources
The International Court’s New Prosecutor

Dulcie Leimbach is the founder of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, she has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal) as well as from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, NHK’s English channel and Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles.

Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. She has also worked as an editorial consultant to various UN agencies. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver before she worked in New York at Esquire magazine and Adweek. In between, she was a Wall Street foreign-exchange dealer. Leimbach has been a fellow at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and was a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

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