Diederick Zanen

Supervisor of Language Assistance Projects, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 1997-2009. Currently Head of the Field and Operational Interpretation Unit in the Registry of the International Criminal CourtZanen JPG

An interview with Diederick Zanen, conducted on 24 May 2015 in The Hague by David P. Briand and Leigh Swigart

Access the full transcript of the interview here.

Go to the Brandeis Institutional Repository to conduct a keyword search across the entire Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History collection.

Please use the following citation format: Oral History Interview with Diederick Zanen (2015), Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project, pages XX, International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.

Interview content

In this interview, Mr. 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 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 OTP office with changes in Chief Prosecutor; the emotional impact of working at the ICTY during the Kosovo crisis. He discusses the role of Dutch Battalion [Dutchbat] 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 OTP; the influence of the ICTY on the 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; the importance of due process and institutional integrity in international tribunals.

Biographical information

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.