Larry D. Johnson

Interview conducted 18 February 2015 in New York City by David P. Briand and Leigh Swigart.

headshot of larry b. johnsonBackground

Interview Content

In this interview, Larry Johnson reminisces about his work on the U.N. team that drafted the statute for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ITCY); the U.N.'s handling of challenges and other issues as the Ad Hoc Tribunals began to do their work; experience in UNPROFOR (UN Protection Force) in Zagreb; negotiations with Radovan Karadžić over planes flying into the territory; and his experience as chef de cabinet under ICTY President Theodor Meron.

He discusses differences between the statutes of the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the impact of these differences on the jurisprudence of the Tribunals; the debate over the authority of the Security Council to establish the ICTY; reconciliation measures taken by the Ad Hoc Tribunals; why the Ad Hoc Tribunals have continued for so long; political issues in the U.N. in dealing with international criminal tribunals generally; the legacy of Nuremberg; and the legacy of the Ad Hoc Tribunals.

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Biographical Information

Larry D. Johnson has served in numerous capacities related to international law and relations at the United Nations. He helped to draft the statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1993) and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (2006). He later served as chef de cabinet in the Office of the ICTY President in The Hague (2003-2005).

In 2006-2008, Johnson served as the United Nations assistant-secretary-general for legal affairs (deputy legal counsel of the U.N.). Recently, he has had special assignments from the United Nations, including: member of the secretary-general's 2009 Headquarters Board of Inquiry into certain incidents in Gaza involving damage to U.N. property or injury to persons on U.N. property during the conflict; and representing the secretary-general during the testimony of U.N. officials during the Lubanga and Katanga trials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Johnson is currently an adjunct professor of law at the Columbia University School of Law.