On Monday 30 January, The Hague Institute for Global Justice co-organized with the Department of European and International Affairs of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice and colleagues at other institutes an invitation-only conference on “Rule of Law Capacity-Building; Ideals and Interests”. The Institute had the pleasure of selecting panel speakers; organizing the breakout session, entitled “International Crimes: Fact-Finding and Fostering a Rule of Law Culture”; and contributing to concrete conclusions of this conference.
During the opening panel, a representative of our partner organization, Ms. Maria-Anna van Dijk from ABN AMRO bank explained the relevance, goals and concrete actions of our anti-human trafficking public-private partnership. She paid special attention to cross-learning between the public and private sector and experimenting with methods to jointly enhance financial investigations and responsible supply chain management.
The main theme of the two well-attended breakout sessions, which the Institute was honored to design and deliver, was accountability for international crimes. Exemplified by an incident, Dr. Wim Heijnen, Head of Medical Forensics at the Netherlands Forensic Institute zoomed in on the importance of learning from complex international inquiries, for which he used our joint project “From Fact-Finding to Evidence” as an example. By focusing on our combined efforts in Lebanon, Doris Eerhart, Senior International Forensic Advisor at the Netherlands Forensic Institute, stressed the importance of connecting forensics to fostering a rule of law culture, and explained our cooperation under “Fact-finding in Lebanon”.
The lively debates during the two similar breakout sessions resulted in several conclusions which were at the heart of the final panel discussion, during which Judge Orie from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia participated on our request. Honoring the theme of the conference, these conclusions entailed that rule of law capacity-building does not always have to be in the interest of the Netherlands, but for international crimes they certainly are. International crimes can occur anywhere and at any time, and therefore experts have to acquire and maintain the relevant expertise and experience. As the host country of several important courts and tribunals, the Netherlands is in a unique position to gain such knowledge and improve upon it. As a conclusion about the best possible approach to ensuring accountability for international crimes, the participants agreed that efforts should go beyond traditional measures such as strengthening institutions, drafting laws and training individuals. Rather, the focus should be on fostering a rule of law culture in which most people accept, internalize and act in accordance with rule of law principles.
Together with the Ministry of Security and Justice, The Hague Institute is committed to ensuring that these conclusions will be operationalized, by ensuring accountability for international and transnational crimes such as during our forthcoming breakout session at the invitation-only Future Force Conference on 10 February 2017, which we are honored to organize with the Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands. Also, we continue to work on rule of law capacity-building efforts such as The Hague Approach, which featured during the Centenary Celebrations of the Peace Palace on 28 August 2013; Fact-finding in Lebanon; From Fact-Finding to Evidence; and our Anti-human trafficking Public-Private Partnership.