September 30, 2015

International Law and Order: A Conversation with Luis Moreno-Ocampo

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), shared his experiences in international law with Georgetown students on September 30, 2015. 

The event was part of the launch of the newest issue of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, which addresses a wide array of global governance questions in commemoration of the United Nations’ seventieth anniversary.

After an introduction by Joel Hellman, dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Moreno-Ocampo  discussed the historic roots of international law in American norms and policy and called on the United States to become further involved with the ICC. 

Drawing on precedents from legal policy during the American Civil War and the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials, Moreno-Ocampo crafted an argument that international law is actually rooted in American principles. He issued a challenge to the students in attendance to recognize this legacy and carry it forward. More broadly, he called on the next generation of international leaders to invest further faith in international law.

Moreno-Ocampo's speech was followed by a lively question and answer session, moderated by Professor Anthony Clark Arend, an expert on international law and director of the Master of Science Foreign Service program. Students had the opportunity to learn about Moreno-Ocampo's philosophy and mindset when confronting some of the most serious instances of crimes against humanity in the past several decades. He emphasized that in his job at the ICC, he had to trust legal structures and precedent above all else. Some of his more lively stories centered on the dynamic of remaining an effective and impartial, but inherently political, international actor. 

After his evening at Georgetown, Moreno-Ocampo left students with a better appreciation of how the ICC works, its vital role in maintaining global order, and what future leaders can do to strengthen and preserve it.