January 27, 2011 12:08 Age: 3 yrs

Working in the Center of International Law

By: by Wendy R. Cromwell

Courtney O’Donnell 10L has a bird’s eye view of the International Criminal Court while living in the center of international law—The Hague.

An intern with the court’s Office of the President, O’Donnell works on external relations and judicial and legal functions. The president is an appeals judge on the court who serves a three-year term as president.

“My job is a combination of both inter­national relations and international criminal law,” says O’Donnell, who also holds a master’s in international relations from Georgia Institute of Technology. “For the external relations end, I help prepare the president for meetings with ambassadors, ministers, heads of state, etc.—whoever he may be meeting with either at the ICC itself or abroad.

“On the judicial/legal end, I help in pro­viding background to legal questions that the president might be presented with and in summarizing current legal issues that the Court is facing so that the president is up-to-speed,” she says.

Though there was a slight learning curve when she arrived in September, O’Donnell was familiar with the court.

“I had done a lot of research on the court during my 1L summer when I worked for the Global Justice Center,” O’Donnell says. “I helped write a brief advocating that a country should be referred to the ICC.

“I participated on an ICC Moot Court in my second and third years and took multiple courses on international law and international criminal law,” she says. “I have actually used my outlines from International Law and International Criminal Law.

Cases O’Donnell is following include the Darfur case in which the president of Sudan has been under indictment and will not voluntarily appear before the court.

“The African Union instructed its member nations to not comply with the arrest warrant,” O’Donnell says. “The Sudanese president recently visited Kenya and Chad, which are state parties of the ICC. However, the ICC can’t force the states to comply with the court’s orders. The political and legal issues this situation presents are an interesting example of the overlap in international relations and inter­national criminal law.”

Through her role in external relations, O’Donnell has attended meetings with foreign dignitaries, including a Kenyan delegation and a ceremony welcoming Bangladesh, a new state party, to the ICC.

“There really isn’t one specific thing,” O’Donnell says when asked about her favorite part of the internship. “It’s just exciting to be here in person and be on the inside of the court.”

The International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The court was established by a treaty, governed by the Rome Statute and is a court of last resort. It will not act if a case is being handled by a national judicial system, unless those proceedings are not genuine. The court also only tries those accused of the gravest crimes. — Source: International Criminal Court

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