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BIIJ 2009
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Brandeis Institute for International Judges 2009

International Justice: Past, Present, and Future

4-8 January 2009


The International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life has concluded its sixth Brandeis Institute for International Judges (BIIJ). Titled “International Justice: Past, Present, and Future,” BIIJ 2009 was attended by 14 judges representing 11 international courts and tribunals.

Held in Trinidad from January 4-8, 2009, and co-hosted by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the Institute held its first session on the premises of the court in Port of Spain. That session, led by Nicolas Michel, former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel at the UN, examined the interplay of justice and politics in the international justice system. He noted that political support plays an important, if sometimes complicating, role in the establishment of international courts and tribunals, using as an illustration the recent creation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. At the same time, he acknowledged the duty of judges to remain independent and resist political interference. He also identified prosecutorial discretion and the UN Security Council’s role in referring cases to the International Criminal Court as other possible situations in which political considerations may come into play in the justice process. Following his remarks, participants discussed, among other topics, whether judges and their institutions can contribute to peace as well as deliver justice.


Participating judges in BIIJ 2009, in the courtroom of the Caribbean Court of Justice

Next, an information-gathering session was led by Ruth Mackenzie, Deputy Director of the Centre for International Courts and Tribunals at University College London, on the development and articulation of professional standards to govern the conduct of lawyers involved in proceedings before international courts and tribunals. Participants then reconvened to examine how different courts look at human rights issues. They offered examples of human rights cases that have arisen in courts that do not have a specific human rights mandate but have had to take into account the fundamental principles of various human rights declarations, covenants, and conventions. Much attention was paid to the challenges of avoiding legal uncertainty and the problem of conflicting jurisprudence. The following session focused on issues of multilingualism in international courts. All of these institutions face a range of challenges arising from the diverse linguistic background of their judges and staff members as well as the parties who appear before the court. Language issues have implications at many levels, including in the internal running of the courts, in the cases themselves, and in the ways that courts communicate with the greater public.

As in the previous BIIJ, judges had the opportunity to divide into breakout groups representing the types of courts in which they serve – criminal, human rights, or inter-state dispute resolution. Participants embraced the opportunity to share issues of mutual concern in a smaller group setting where interchanges were lively and direct.

In the final gathering, before a closing session that served to recap the proceedings and look ahead to other possible BIIJ topics, participants tackled the broad issue of measuring success in the international justice system. Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, offered opening remarks that centered on the purposes for which the ad-hoc international criminal tribunals were established. Judges then offered their analysis of whether their own courts have accomplished the goals for which they were created and how the international justice system can be improved in the future.

In addition to these formal sessions, the Institute also featured an informal evening session in which judges weighed the potential ethical dilemmas of their profession, such as whether they could attend functions of political candidates or associate with people who have potential interests before their courts. Finally, participants were able to explore Trinidad through an outing to the Asa Wright Nature Reserve, where they hiked and viewed the large variety of birds that inhabit the island.

Since its inception in 2002, the BIIJ has provided a forum for international judges to meet and discuss critical issues concerning the theory and practice of international justice. The next BIIJ is scheduled for the summer of 2010. Reports on all BIIJ conferences can be accessed under “Institute Information” at the right-hand column.

From left, the Honourable Ivor Archie (Chief Justice of Trinidad), Justice Rolston Nelson (Caribbean Court of Justice), Nicolas Michel (former UN Legal Counsel), and Justice Richard Goldstone (Constitutional Court of South Africa) listen to discussions at the first session of BIIJ 2009.
BIIJ 2009 Participants


African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights
Joseph Mulenga (Uganda)

Caribbean Court of Justice
Rolston Nelson (Trinidad and Tobago)
Duke Pollard (Guyana)

European Court of Human Rights
Nina Vajic (Croatia)

European Court of Justice
Egils Levits (Latvia)

Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Margarette Macaulay (Jamaica)

International Criminal Court
René Blattmann, Vice-President (Bolivia)

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Fausto Pocar (Italy)
Iain Bonomy (UK)

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Dennis Byron, President (St. Kitts and Nevis)

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

Anthony Amos Lucky (Trinidad and Tobago)
Dolliver Nelson (Grenada)

Special Court for Sierra Leone
Jon Kamanda (Sierra Leone)

World Trade Organization Appellate Body

Jennifer Hillman (US)

Session leaders and rapporteurs

Linda Carter, Professor, McGeorge School of Law

Stéphanie Cartier, Adjunct Professor, Fordham University

Richard Goldstone, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

Ruth Mackenzie, Deputy Director, Centre for International Courts and Tribunals, University College London

Nicolas Michel, former UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs

Lewis Rice, Communications Specialist, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, Brandeis University

Leigh Swigart, Director of Programs in International Justice and Society, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, Brandeis University

Daniel Terris, Director, International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, Brandeis University

The Brandeis Institute for International Judges 2009 was funded by the JEHT Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and the Rice Family Foundation.

BIIJ participants enjoy a view of the Trinidadian landscape from the Asa Wright Nature Reserve.