Classes ended today at 12:30pm. And while there was an optional seminar from 2pm-3:30pm, my roommates and I were disinterested in the topic to be discussed so we decided to visit the International Criminal Court (ICC) instead. Best. Decision. Ever.
Since it was more of a spur of the moment decision, none of us had our passports with us – something you are normally required to have to enter the ICC compound. But THANKFULLY, the security guards recognized the badges from our program and ended up being super nice and lenient with us, accepting our drivers licenses instead. When you visit the ICC, there is a audioguide tour you can take which explains the basic ins and outs of the court. But seeing as I am the definition of a UN (and therefore ICC) nerd, I already knew much of the material taught in the tour. (For those who do not know much about it, 10 out of 10, would recommend!)
Now, here is the cool thing you can do at the ICC – if there is any court sessions currently going on, you are allowed to watch them from above in the viewing section! There are currently three cases before the ICC this week – Gbagbo and Ble Goude; Ongwen; and Ntaganda. Every case except the last had already been adjourned for the day, so we ended up with only one choice – but honestly, seeing any case before the ICC is so amazing I will literally never complain.
Here is how you know I am a nerd – both of my flatmates there with me are already in law school (one recently graduated, and the other is a year away from graduating). Both have already done criminal law cases. And both were close to falling asleep at the tediousness of the progress of the trial. Then you have me, only just studying for my LSAT exam, and smiling like a child at a candy store as I try to deduce why the prosecutor is trying to establish which position Ntaganda held during the Congolese conflict. When he got frustrated at the prosecutor’s attempt to mix him up (in his words, “Madam, you are twisting my words”), I was utterly enthralled with the turn of events. My flatmates on the other hand…not so much.
While both believed it was really interesting and cool to be attending an ICC hearing, neither of the girls hung on every word like I did. Which is understandable – both have studied national criminal law, but neither have studied international criminal law. But my experiences in Security Council through Model UN have caused me to have a deeper understanding of the international criminal law system used by the ICC (cue flashbacks to having to explain what Rule of Law was All. Freaking. Conference. Or that one time I brought in a textbook to clearly show that the ICJ and the ICC are completely different things.)
Lesson learned – I may be too much of a nerd about the ICC. But either way. Today was awesome. I’m in heaven. And I’m definitely going to try to go see some more cases!
P.S. Dad – I’m alive, and I think I may want to be a prosecutor in front of the ICC someday!