Podcast: Prof Mike Newton gives an “Update on International Criminal Justice”

At our 27th Annual National Security Law Conference we were privileged to have Professor Mike Newton as our kickoff speaker on Friday, February 25th.  As many of you know, Mike is one of the world’s top experts on international criminal law.  I’m very pleased to tell you the video of his presentation is now available (here).

When we approached Mike to kickoff the conference, we asked him to give us an “Update on International Criminal Justice.  That would have been interesting enough, but when the conflict broke out in the Ukraine, he reshaped his presentation as few could to address what was then a very nascent conflict. 

This extract from his remarks tells you what you can expect when you watch and/or listen to the podcast:

When the Ukrainian ambassador stood up in the Security Council the other day and said– setting aside the theological implications, when he thunders in the Security Council as a political statement– there is no purgatory for war criminals, they go straight to hell. That’s a political statement. The theme of this morning’s keynote is to do a legal overview, a legal wrap up of how we make those same determinations, not as a matter of emotion and politics, but as a matter of law.

I won’t try to summarize the many points he makes, but one that especially resonated with me is the need for the careful, professional collection of evidence for prosecutions.  This is something of great importance these days as the world seeks to hold Russia legally accountable

The fact is these cases, despite all that you see on television, can actually be very hard to prosecute (see e.g., here and here).  Consider this grim statistic: the International Criminal Court was founded almost 20 years ago and has spent almost $2 billion, but has only garnered ten convictions.

What is particularly valuable about Mike’s lecture is his extraordinary ability to convey complicated material in a way that is understandable to all.  In his lecture Mike gives us key aspects of the development and architecture of international justice, as well as an outline of some of the challenges.  He also shares with us “five specific points of action” that the U.S. needs to be doing to pursue justice in the Ukraine conflict.  In the weeks since he spoke, the wisdom of his ideas has become even more apparent.

This is a “must” watch/listen podcast and it is found here.

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