International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
For the summer of 2010. I was accepted as an intern in the immediate Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the United Nations International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) . The immediate Office of the Prosecutor consists of the ICTY Prosecutor, the Deputy Prosecutor, as well as the Deputy Chief of Investigations, the Special Advisor to the Prosecutor and the Associate Legal Officer. For the majority of my internship, I worked directly with the Associate Legal Officer and the Special Advisor to the Prosecutor.
I am the first intern to hold this internship and therefore, when I first heard of where I was going to be placed I was not sure how to interpret it. However, I soon learned that I was placed there because my background and experience indicated an interest in policy and administration, and this internship has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was able to meet and work with the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor of the ICTY. I also was able to gain insight into the logistical needs and managerial complexities of managing trial teams that are currently prosecuting nine cases. As I was the first intern to work with this team, and as I arrived at the immediate Office’s busiest time of year, it was difficult at first. The Associate Legal Advisor was very patient and introduced me to the staff, the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor and gave me a tour of the Tribunal. Most of the projects I would work on were passed to me through the Associate Legal Advisor.
The nature of the work for the immediate Office is different than working on a trial team. The work that the OTP is involved in encompasses several areas. The OTP handles the policy ramifications surrounding decisions made by all departments within the OTP. Therefore the immediate Office works closely with the OTP Press Office and maintains close contact with the ICTY Outreach Offices. The immediate Office also manages the OTP’s position regarding the United Nations and the States of the former Yugoslavia, and also deals with daily administrative and managerial issues within the OTP, as they arise.
When I started my internship, the immediate Office was involved in drafting the bi-annual report to the United Nations General Assembly. The report serves as a request for continued funding, support from the States of the former Yugoslavia (including the capture and turning over of the two remaining indictees of the OTP), and a statement of the OTP’s recent achievements in court. This specific report contained sensitive material and had to be worded precisely. I aided with editing and fact-checking, and I used this bi-annual report to update myself on the position of the OTP and the stage in the proceedings in the current trials. The Political Advisor and Associate Legal Officer gave me insight into the interaction between the ICTY and the UN bodies. They also told me the reasoning behind certain inclusions into the report. This report underwent numerous revisions and was then forwarded to the President of the ICTY.
My next project was to put together briefing points for the Prosecutor of the ICTY to use during his participation at the international conference for the International Criminal Court in Uganda, from May 31-June 11, 2010. Other projects throughout my internship included drafting correspondence for the Office of the Prosecutor and working on other reports and statements, as was necessary. Again, due to the highly political and sensitive nature of these reports my work mainly consisted of editing and fact checking. Most of these reports were drafted by the senior level.
I also worked on several discrete projects that dealt with administrative problems within the OTP. Unfortunately due to the sensitive nature of the projects, and because they are ongoing, I am not allowed to discuss the details. These projects were very interesting to me. In one project in particular, I interviewed the head of the evidence unit along with the Associate Legal Officer, and during the interview I was told how the logistics of the OTP interact when putting together evidence for a trial. For these projects I also researched the interaction between the various subdivisions within the OTP, including the investigative unit and the evidence unit. I researched standards of procedure and compared that with the situation that I was analyzing. After my research was complete I put together a draft of the findings in an interoffice memo that will be built upon by the Associate Legal Officer. This project was not concluded by the time that I left the internship and needed more information on specific points that will be carried out by the Associate Legal Officer and the next intern.
Separate from my work with the immediate Office I volunteered to help the Prosecution of Sexual Violence working group. As a part of this working group I gathered information on how the prosecution of sexual violence in sources external to the ICTY. I read through the material and gave a brief account of how sexual violence was used as a tool of ethnic cleansing during the war in Bosnia.
I also worked part-time on the Stanisic and Simatovic trial team, to gain some practical legal experience. I met with the lawyers and other interns assigned to the trial and carried out work as necessary for their team. I did not begin to intern for a trial team until near the end of my internship; therefore, the work that I carried out was limited. I mainly helped with cataloging and checking documentation to be submitted as evidence on a certain witness. However, this brief experience introduced me to the sheer volume of work necessary in preparing a case of the magnitude tried by the Tribunal and specifically how the tasks of each attorney on the team are organized and carried out. I met the interns on the trial team and gained knowledge from their experience.
The OTP offers a number of programs to update the intern on the current issues before the Tribunal and to familiarize the intern with the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. I made full use of these programs, which introduced me to the various subdivisions in the OTP. I was also able to attend various trial sessions. I watched parts of the Karadzic trial, and the Stanisic and Simatovic trial.
My internship culminated in a report and presentation to the Prosecutor, the Special Advisor to the Prosecutor, Associate Legal Officer and the new Senior Legal Advisor. Throughout my internship I worked on this research project for the Prosecutor. The research that I gathered is to be consolidated and submitted into a report for a proposal to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). At the end of my internship I presented the Prosecutor with my research and gave a presentation to them on my findings and methodology. For forty-five minutes I was asked very specific questions by the Prosecutor concerning my findings. I was asked to provide the basis of the research and to point out flaws and failures in the existing systems that the Associate Legal Officer and Senior Legal Advisor could take into consideration while drafting the report to the UNSC. The content of the report is also confidential and ongoing.
Being in the immediate Office of the OTP was a very interesting experience not only because of the work that I was involved in, but also because of the people I worked with. I am very grateful to the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center for providing me with this stipend for the summer.
I would definitely recommend my internship in the immediate Office of the Prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. However, because it does not deal exclusively with a trial team, there is a caveat for students who would rather gain more practical legal experience and be submersed in a trial team at the ICTY.
The immediate Office is comprised of the Prosecutor, Deputy Prosecutor, Deputy Chief of Investigations, the Special Advisor to the Prosecutor and the Associate Legal Officer. The work carried out is political in one aspect and managerial and administrative in another aspect. The Prosecutor deals with political developments in the region of the former Yugoslavia and the management of all prosecutions before the ICTY. Specifically, the immediate Office also deals with the day to day functioning of prosecution in these cases, including the issues and problems with the trials teams themselves, the investigation and evidence units and the interaction with other departments of the ICTY such as Registry and Chambers. For a student interested in the logistics of an international court and in the political concerns of the Prosecutor this internship is ideal.
A second caveat is that this internship position is the only one in this office, which is located in the same hallway as the Senior Trial Attorneys and there is an expectation of professionalism and discretion. Therefore, for students who want to network with other interns it is more difficult than being on a trial team where 10-20 interns are all in one room. However, there is an extensive internship events network, meaning that once a week a bulletin goes around and suggests meeting places and parties for interns to attend to get to know one another.
This internship is also ideal for a student interested in policy rather than practicing law. The position allows the intern to engage in the work of a team that is involved, in some aspect, with all of the trials taking place, and the intern works on managerial issues and problems that surround the trial work but that deal with the logistics of the trial rather than practical legal work. The intern is also introduced to the political positioning of the ICTY with the States of the former Yugoslavia well as the Prosecutors position as a liaison with the UN and the OTP. Some of the projects are confidential but are extremely interesting and provide the intern with an insight that cannot be gained through research or trial team experience.
However, because the immediate Office takes work as it presents itself, there may be time for the intern to help, part-time, on a trial team. Many of the trial teams are overworked so they appreciate the help and there is no lag time between offering your help and receiving work that needs to be done.
There are many other lectures and events that surround the ICTY internship experience. OTP interns are allowed to attend weekly informational sessions that the trial attorneys attend in order to stay abreast of changes in procedure and developments in individual trials that may affect other trial teams’ positions. There are also lectures offered for only interns, which provide an overview of the OTP structure and the history of the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. Interns are allowed to use the extensive ICTY library and also request books from any of the other tribunals.
Overall, the experience was very different from what I anticipated, but I would recommend the internship wholeheartedly. It was an incredible experience and I learned so much from people who I never actually thought I would be able to meet, let alone work with. They are very helpful and even though extremely busy, the individuals working in the immediate Office take the time to introduce the intern to the projects on which they will work and make sure the intern is involved and is developing practical skills while helping on important projects.