Justice Without Borders: The 2007 EPIIC Symposium

Visiting cadets from military academies at the 2007 EPIIC symposium.
(Matthew Raifman)
Patrick Roath, The Tufts Observer
Published March 9, 2007

his weekend, Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership and its flagship EPIIC program brought a broad cross-section of outside experts and panelists to campus for a four-day long symposium that touched on numerous international issues facing the world today. “How can we expect weak states to develop the rule of law and a legal framework to deal with terrorism?” asked panelist Dr. Antonia Chayes, a visiting Professor of International Politics and Law at the Fletcher School. Her question framed the discussion at one program, entitled Governance and International Law: From Terrorism to Transitional Justice. The event, itself indicative of the symposium’s larger theme—Global Crisis: Governance and Intervention—set the tone for much of the weekend’s programming. Dr. Chayes continued, noting that even “the legal systems of the liberal world powers are being strained by the terrorist threat.” Additionally, she said, American efforts to impose a suitable social framework in other countries have been characterized by a cynical motivation. “When we go into other countries we are not there to build a democratic society but to find an exit,” she explained. Much of the panelists’ presentation explored the intersection of international law and the tricky work of adapting specific countries’ legal frameworks to combat the amorphous threat of global terror as well as other crises. The panel also considered the difficult prospect of reconciliation and prosecution efforts in post-conflict countries, a process commonly referred to as transitional justice. The event’s most distinguished guest was Justice Richard Goldstone, a former Chief Prosecutor in the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and a highly respected figure in the realm of international criminal law. In a brief interview preceding his presentation, Justice Goldstone spoke with the Observer about his experience as an important voice in international criminal law and his hopes for the future. “I am optimistic about the future—the development of these insititutions has been fast paced. Sixty years ago none of this existed. There have been detours along the way, but it’s reached a critical mass now and it must continue,” he said. In his presentation, however, Justice Goldstone expressed a more guarded optimism. Holding up a tiny newspaper cutout, he informed the audience that this was the only mention in American newspapers to the recent landmark decision that Serbia was not directly responsible for genocide in Bosnia. He lamented the lack of support for international law in America, saying that the future of such institutions “depends on the support of important nations such as the United States—that they exercise political will.” Two Tufts students, members of the EPIIC colloquium, also presented at the program. Maya Karwande, a sophomore, presented the results of research she had gathered during three weeks in Bosnia-Herzegovina over winter break. Bosnia-Herzegovina, a place some may better remember as the former Yugoslavia, was wracked by years of bitter internal warfare in the mid 1990s and brutal campaigns of ethnic cleansing. Karwande’s research suggested that the ability of local Bosnians to adapt an international criminal law court to fit the local domestic system has been a qualified success so far. “It is an example of the institutionalization of global governance in the domestic sphere,” she explained. Karwande’s study focused on the opinions of local Bosnians towards the efforts to bring the perpetrators of Bosnia’s atrocities to justice. It also explained the gap in the “mechanisms of perception” between international professionals and the indigenous population. atherine Conway-Gaffney, a senior at Tufts and member of this year’s EPIIC, spoke to the audience about her experience in Uganda, where she studied efforts there for national reconciliation after years of internal strife between rebel factions and the government. Conway-Gaffney’s research yielded the interesting observation that existing, tribal legal systems may be the best way to deal with the deep tears in Uganda’s social fabric, and she called for the implementation of the local models set up by international NGOs. Having spoken directly to people affected by the crisis, she stated unequivocally that “stability is their first priority.” Although she found the local population receptive to outside attempts at reconciliation, she noted that many people wanted to put the past behind them and move forward. Also presenting was Dr. Peter Roudik, a senior foreign law specialist from the Russian Federation. The sober nature of his presentation, conferred in a thick Russian accent, was a stark contrast to the entertaining slideshow of political cartoons that he had prepared. The cartoons, lampooning the autocratic tendencies of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, underscored the difficulties facing modern Russia and the bizarre realities of Putin’s quasi-dictatorial regime. To illustrate this, Dr. Roudik quoted a Russian parliamentary leader who had recently claimed during a session that “Parliament is not a place for parliamentary discussion.” Citing an increase in government sponsored assassinations and military crackdowns, Dr. Roudik warned that methods that could be perceived as helping Russia fight terrorists could in fact undermine the rule of law within the country as a consequence. “There is a real danger that the fighting of terrorism abroad will be used to justify the degradation of domestic institutions,” he cautioned. Another law specialist, Clare Feikert, from the U.S. Congress Law Library, was on hand to explain the problems that even developed countries could face when adapting their legal systems to deal with today’s threats. Feikert’s presentation centered on the imposition of “control orders” in the United Kingdom—an anti-terrorism measure introduced after 9/11 that essentially constitutes an extreme form of house arrest imposed by the government to “restrict or prevent the target’s involvement in terrorism.” By detailing one example of a man living under a control order, Feikert outlined the rationale for ongoing legal challenges to the government’s response to terrorism. Although the panel offered a number of pragmatic solutions to problems facing transitional justice and international criminal law today, the permanent nature of armed conflict in the international arena was perhaps best articulated by Maya Karwande. When asked about the lingering fear in weak states of past or future conflicts, she responded with a straightforward assessment: “It’s there and it’s not going to go away.”