Supervisor of Language Assistance Projects, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 1997-2009.
Head, Field and Operational Interpretation Unit in the Registry of the International Criminal Court, current position.
In this interview, Diederick Zanen reminisces about his impressions of the Yugoslav conflict while at university; his first months working in the Office of the Prosecutor and the informality of the office; measures taken to secure documents and information; the treatment of tribunal personnel from the former Yugoslavia in the early years; the evolution and increase in his supervisory responsibilities over translators and field interpreters; the evolution of positions and titles within tribunal staff; the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Completion Strategy and plans for post-tribunal employment; the need to visit the former Yugoslavia to see the country as more than a conflict zone; his experiences in Zagreb; changes in the Office of the Prosecutor, with changes in chief prosecutor; and the emotional impact of working at the ICTY during the Kosovo crisis.
He discusses the role of Dutch Battalion in Srebrenica; The Hague as a city of international law; the geographic distribution of tribunal personnel; security screening for everyone working at tribunal; the need to retain experienced personnel balanced against the uncertainty of employment; English as the primary language spoken in the Office of the Prosecutor; the influence of the ICTY on the International Criminal Court (ICC); challenges related to the array of different languages at the ICC; the process of translating and hiring language experts at ICC; the process of organizing documents from different teams to minimize the translation of duplicate documents at the ICTY; and the importance of due process and institutional integrity in international tribunals.
Diederick Zanen graduated in law from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, with a specialization in international public law and a minor in the languages and cultures of Latin America. He worked for over 12 years in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as a supervisor of numerous language-assistance projects in the Investigations Division.
Since 2010, he has headed the Field and Operational Interpretation Unit within the Court Interpretation and Translation Section of the Registry at the International Criminal Court. His responsibilities include the coordination of the sourcing, recruitment, training and deployment of field interpreters who are needed to support the multilingual trial proceedings at the ICC.