Institute Information

BIIJ 2015 image
Institute Report

For links to all institute summaries, reports, photos and more see the BIIJ homepage.

Thoughts from the undergraduate interns
Two undergraduate interns from Brandeis provided support throughout the Institute: Michael Abrams '15 and Amelia Katan '15. Read their reflections on the experience.

BIIJ Interns 2015

Brandeis Institute for International Judges (BIIJ) 2015

International Judges at BIIJ 2015

International Judges at BIIJ 2015


International Courts, Local Actors

4-8 January 2015


Judges serving on the benches of 11 international courts and tribunals across the globe gathered in Malta in January for the 10th Brandeis Institute for International Judges (BIIJ). The BIIJ is the only such regular gathering of these judges.

The 2015 Institute was organized by the Ethics Center in collaboration with the University of Malta, which hosted the group of 14 judges on its historic Valletta campus.

The Institute’s theme, “International Courts, Local Actors” focused on the role of local actors in the pursuit of global justice. This category includes the full range of people and institutions that interact with international courts: individuals whose rights are violated or are the victims of crimes against humanity; governments and political bodies; non-governmental organizations; and legal systems, including members of domestic judiciaries.

Session topics included: the international/local relationship in the pursuit of justice; international courts and local politics; the local impact of international justice; and the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in international justice.

The BIIJ also regularly features a session that looks at a pertinent topic through an ethical lens. In 2015, participants considered the ethical and practical dimensions of the pace of international justice.

“It was very beneficial to meet judges across the full spectrum of international courts, and to discuss issues not only in formal sessions but also during meals and informal activities,” said Vagn Joensen of Denmark, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Vladimir Golitsyn of Russia, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, expressed a similar sentiment: “It is very healthy and productive to have interaction among courts with very different mandates, and to be exposed to how other courts function.” African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights judge Elsie Thompson of Nigeria added, “In less than a week, I feel like I have a new judicial family.”

The Institute ended with a public roundtable that explored the challenges associated with contemporary migration to Malta and other parts of southern Europe. Most immigrants arrive by crossing the Mediterranean Sea under precarious conditions and without official papers.

This phenomenon, fed by a combination of political, economic and environmental factors, poses serious challenges to the capacity of affected countries and their obligations under international human rights law. The roundtable featured legal scholars and a Maltese government representative, and was attended by members of the academic, civil society and migrant communities.

The 2015 Brandeis Institute for International Judges was supported by the Rice Family Foundation and the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice.

Reports on all BIIJ conferences can be accessed from the BIIJ homepage.

Three panelsist at BIIJ 2015

BIIJ Participants Vladimir Golitsyn (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea), Fausto Pocar (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), and Winston Anderson (Caribbean Court of Justice) (l-r)

BIIJ 2015 Participants

International Judges:

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

  • Elsie Nwanwuri Thompson, Vice President (Nigeria)

Caribbean Court of Justice

  • Winston Anderson (Jamaica)

Court of Justice of the Andean Community

  • Luis José Diez-Canseco Núñez, President (Peru)

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

  • Rowan Downing QC (Australia)

European Court of Human Rights

  • Erik Møse (Norway) – 2015 BIIJ Program Committee
  • David Thór Björgvinsson (Iceland)

International Court of Justice

  • Hisashi Owada (Japan) – 2015 BIIJ Program Committee

International Criminal Court

  • Christine Baroness Van den Wyngaert (Belgium)

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

  • Carmel A. Agius, Vice President (Malta) – 2015 BIIJ Program Committee
  • Theodor Meron, President (United States); also President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals
  • Fausto Pocar (Italy) – 2015 BIIJ Program Committee

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

  • Vagn Joensen, President (Denmark)

International  Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

  • Vladimir Golitsyn, President (Russian Federation)

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

  • Sir David Baragwanath QC (New Zealand)

BIIJ Co-Directors:

  • Justice Richard J. Goldstone, Professor, University of Virginia School of Law; former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
  • Professor Linda Carter, Pacific McGeorge School of Law 


  • Jean-Pierre Gauci, University of Malta, British Institute for International and Comparative Law, People for Change Foundation, UK; organizer and panelist for "Migration in the Mediterranean" roundtable
  • Leigh Swigart, Ph.D., Director of Programs in International Justice and Society, Brandeis University
  • Daniel Terris, Ph.D., Director, International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Brandeis University


  • Veronique Caruana, Ph.D. candidate, Middlesex University, UK
  • Matthew Scott, Ph.D. candidate Lund University Faculty of Law; panelist for "Migration in the Mediterranean" roundtable

Invited Observer:

  • Henrik Stampe Lund (Denmark), Centre of Excellence for International Courts, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law


  • Michael Abrams '15, Intern
  • Amelia Katan '15, Intern

Special thanks to the conference planning personnel of the Valletta Campus of the University of Malta, especially Lucienne Bugeja and Veronica Barbara.