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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 30, 2007

Symposium to Examine War Crimes Trials and Their Alternatives

With the recent execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, world focus has again turned to war crimes tribunals. Those tribunals, and possible alternatives to them, will be examined at the University of Iowa College of Law on Friday, Feb. 9, in a conference bringing together some of the world's top war crimes experts.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Boyd Law Building. More information and a registration form are available on the Web at The conference is sponsored by the law school's student-run journal, Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems (TLCP), the International Law Society (ILS), the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR), International Programs (IP) and the Law Foundation.

The experts at the conference will examine the development of international war crimes tribunals; the International Criminal Court and its future; and alternatives to tribunals, such as truth and reconciliation commissions. ILS President Suzie Pritchett said that "a discussion on such sensitive issues as genocide and war crimes is especially timely considering recent developments in international law." She pointed to former leaders in Rwanda and Sierra Leone who are on trial for suspected war crimes in civil wars in those countries, and to the International Criminal Court, which is reviewing issues related to the conflicts in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The International Tribunal's trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic -- the tribunal's most notable defendant -- ended last year without a verdict when Milosevic died before his trial concluded.

But Victoria Kozyr, a TLCP symposium editor said that countries like South Africa have decided against using a criminal tribunal for the leaders of its apartheid-era regime. Instead, the country used a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that allowed apartheid victims to publicly confront perpetrators and for those who committed the crimes to confess in public without fear of prosecution.

The conference's keynote speaker will be Kenneth Quinn, former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia and current president of the World Food Prize Foundation. Quinn will discuss "Tracking Down Mass Murders: Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice."

Others slated to participate include:

--Col. Christopher Cline, the Defense Department official responsible for representing the Pentagon in negotiations with other governments about International Criminal Court jurisdiction.

--Judge Robert Carolan, a Minnesota district court judge and UI law graduate who chaired the United Nation's commission on establishing a stable court system in Kosovo in 2004-05. He will discuss the role of hybrid international courts in prosecuting war crimes and developing independent domestic court systems.

--Professor Payam Akhavan, the first legal adviser to the office that oversaw prosecutions for war crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. He will discuss whether prosecutions are an impediment to peace negotiations, particularly in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

--Charles Allen, deputy general counsel, Department of Defense (International Affairs). He will discuss alternatives to prosecution for war crimes in the war on terrorism and options for return of those detained by the United States at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan and Iraq to their countries of origin.

Other speakers include Professor Michael Newton, law professor at Vanderbilt University and Senior Advisor to the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues; Professor Laura Dickinson, a professor of law at the University of Connecticut and a visiting professor at Princeton's Program in Law and Public Affairs; Susana SaCouto, director of the War Crimes Research Office at the American University College of Law; and Professor Adrien Wing, Professor Mark Osiel, and Professor Chris Rossi of the UI College of Law.

"We believe that university forum discussions such as these, which combine practitioners, academics and students, are of great importance at this time," said Megan McMillan, the TLCP's editor in chief and conference organizer. "TLCP and ILS are honored to provide a forum for such distinguished guests and we anticipate a vibrant and novel discussion."

Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems (TLCP) is published annually and is one of four journals published by University of Iowa College of Law students. TLCP examines problems of international, comparative and transnational law from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. The journal publishes articles, interviews with international figures and essays from the Trandafir International Business Writing Competition.

If you are unable to attend the Symposium, the panelists will be asked to contribute to TLCP issue 17:1. To order a copy, contact the journal at 319-335-9736 or by email at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,