Stephen Rapp

Interview conducted 16 May 2016 in Washington, D.C., by Linda Carter and Susana SáCouto.

portrait of stephen rappBackground

Interview Content

In his interview, Stephen Rapp reminisces about his interest in becoming involved with international prosecutions in the aftermath of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo; applying to a vacant position at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) while working as a federal prosecutor in rural Iowa; his process of recruitment as senior trial attorney at the ICTR; presenting the Bikindi indictment to Carla Del Ponte in The Hague before the arrival of Slobodan Milošević at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslative; the impact of his prior experience as an American-trained lawyer at the ICTR; and his experience as a prosecutor in Iowa bringing the first violence against women case.

He discusses his selection as the lead prosecutor in the Prosecutor v. Barayagwiza, Nahimana, and Ngeze ("Media") trial; the approach of the prosecutorial team against the three accused of inciting genocide; building cases against "masterminds" of the Rwandan genocide; interpreting the RTLM broadcasts as an incitement to genocide; developing a new approach to plea-bargaining; the impact of Nuremberg on the development of international criminal law; and the future of international criminal justice.

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Biographical Information

Stephen Rapp was born 26 January 1949. He obtained a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Drake University Law School. He served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from 1993 to 2001; senior trial attorney at the ICTR from 2001 to 2005; chief of prosecutions at the ICTR from 2005 to 2007; chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2009; and U.S. ambassador-at-large for war cimes from 2009 to 2015.