University of Pittsburgh
April 9, 2013

Pitt International Criminal Law Scholar Charles C. Jalloh to Participate in April 10 UN Thematic Debate on the Achievement of International Criminal Justice in Light of the Work of the Ad Hoc and Permanent International Criminal Courts

“Role of International Criminal Justice in Reconciliation” is the title of the daylong interactive thematic debate at UN headquarters in New York City
A widely respected expert on international criminal law issues, especially as they pertain to Africa, Jalloh will comment on a proposal for a new African criminal court to displace or supplement the work of the International Criminal Court

PITTSBURGH—The president of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, His Excellency Vuk Jeremić from the Republic of Serbia, will convene tomorrow, April 10, a daylong interactive thematic debate of the General Assembly on the role of international criminal law in justice and reconciliation. Among the panelists who will participate in the discussion—which will examine the complex undertaking of investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity at the international level—is University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Law Charles Chernor Jalloh.

An international criminal law scholar and leading expert on issues of transitional justice, especially as they pertain to Africa, Jalloh will comment on a proposal, launched by the 50-plus-nation African Union, of an African criminal court to address war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity—all crimes within the jurisdiction of the permanent Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). The proposal has raised questions about the compatibility of the proposed chamber with the ICC’s Rome Statute, which 122 countries (34 of whom are African States) have accepted. 

“The African Union (AU) proposal to create a criminal chamber within the African Court of Justice and Human Rights has attracted largely negative scholarly reaction,” said Jalloh. “Part of the reason is that the idea raises profound questions about its compatibility with the Rome Statute of the ICC, as well as concerns about the potential fragmentation of an international criminal law regime centered around the world’s first and only permanent international penal tribunal.”

The proposal also has been criticized because it challenges the current conception of the international criminal justice system, which is predicated on the belief that states, not necessarily regional bodies, are the first lines of defense against impunity. “Given the controversial AU proposal, the question now is what, if any, the appropriate role is, or should be, for regional or even subregional bodies in the global fight to ensure that perpetrators do not escape punishment for international crimes,” said Jalloh.

The debate, which will take place at the UN’s New York City headquarters, will be webcast by UN Web TV and focus on the long-term impact of international criminal justice—particularly as it relates to reconciliation and the rights of victims—and the relations between national and international criminal procedures.

More than 400 delegates from 193 countries are expected to participate in the session, which will include opening remarks from H.E. Jeremić and from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; a high-level morning session during which UN member and observer states formally will address the debate; two consecutive afternoon panels, titled “Justice” and “Reconciliation,” respectively; and closing remarks. Jalloh will serve on the “Justice” panel.

Joining Jalloh as “Justice” panelists will be John D. Ciorciari, assistant professor of public policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the University of Michigan; retired Canadian Forces Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, who served as a member of the UN Protection Force in Yugoslavia; and Savo Strbac, director of the Veritas Documentation Center, Serbia. Each panelist will deliver statements in his respective area of expertise; following these presentations, there will be an interactive audience debate moderated by Matthew Parish, a partner in the Geneva office of the international law firm Holman Fenwick Willan.

“It is an honor for me personally, and for the Pitt School of Law as a whole, that I was asked by the president of the United Nations General Assembly to share the outcome of my research on this question,” said Jalloh. “The invitation stands as a testament to the cutting-edge research with real-world impact that we do here at Pitt Law and the groundbreaking work that faculty colleagues engage in daily in this and other units of the University of Pittsburgh.”

About Charles Chernor Jalloh
University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Law Charles Chernor Jalloh is an authority on criminal law, international criminal law, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law. His recent scholarship has focused on questions of jurisdiction and selectivity in international criminal law, including, in particular, the tense relationship between Africa and the International Criminal Court, the definition of crimes against humanity in international law, and a comparative study of the exercise of the right of self-representation by persons accused of the worst crimes known to U.S. and international law.

A member of the Ontario Bar since 2004, Jalloh was legal counsel in the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section, Department of Justice Canada. He also served as the legal advisor to the Office of the Principal Defender in the Special Court for Sierra Leone—the first such office in an international criminal court.

For three months in 2007, Jalloh played a key role as court-appointed duty counsel to former Liberian President Charles Taylor, a position from which he resigned for reasons of principle. Afterwards, he clerked at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, for Presiding Judge Erik Møse, assisting on historic trials involving the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In 2011, Jalloh was a visiting scholar at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and a visiting research fellow at the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria Faculty of Law in South Africa.

Jalloh is the founding editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary African Journal of Legal Studies and has delivered invited lectures in many universities and institutions in the United States, Europe, and Africa. A frequent consultant on international law issues, he is a member of the American Society of Comparative Law, the Canadian Council on International Law, the Advisory Board for the War Crimes Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA), and the American Society of International Law, where he cochairs the International Criminal Law Interest Group. Last year, Jalloh was the IBA nominee to the Advisory Panel to the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. His appointment is for two years.

The editor of The Sierra Leone Special Court and Its Legacy: The Impact for Africa and International Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and the coeditor of The Law Reports of the Special Court for Sierra Leone: The Prosecutor v. Brima, Kamara and Kanu (The AFRC Case) (Martinus Nijhoff Brill, 2013), Jalloh also has published many articles in leading peer-reviewed and other journals, including the African Journal of International and Comparative Law, American Journal of International Law, American University International Law Review, Criminal Law Forum, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, International Criminal Law Review, and Michigan Journal of International Law. A columnist for JURIST Legal News Service on issues of international criminal justice, Jalloh has been an invited chapter contributor for top international criminal law texts and books published by noted authorities and publishers in the international law field.

Jalloh, who delivered an invited lecture on the meaning of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in February 2013, earned the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada; double Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees from McGill University in Quebec, Canada (J.D. equivalent); and a master’s degree in international human rights law, with distinction, at Oxford University, U.K., where he also was named a Chevening Scholar. 

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