On Tuesday, 31 May, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), with support from the Embassies of Australia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, hosted the inaugural book launch for “Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY”. The volume is edited by Prosecutor Serge Brammertz and Deputy to the Prosecutor Michelle Jarvis and published by Oxford University Press.
The book sets out the experience of the OTP over the past two decades in seeking to establish accountability for conflict-related sexual violence crimes. It presents an insider perspective and expert analysis by current and former OTP staff members, crafted with a practical focus to enhance future accountability efforts for conflict-related sexual violence crimes. It was written to ensure that the accumulated experience, expertise and lessons learned within the OTP are recorded prior to closure of the Office and made available for others.
In his opening remarks Prosecutor Serge Brammertz noted that, despite the trauma they had endured and the misconceptions often associated with sexual violence, “many victims of these crimes wanted to come to the Tribunal and speak about the details of the horrors they had seen and lived through. Why? Because they wanted justice”. Prosecutor Brammertz said that the throughout its work, the OTP proved that “senior officials can be found accountable for sexual violence crimes” and that the OTP “established that sexual violence crimes can constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and underlying acts of genocide”. The Prosecutor expressed hope that “the insights contained in this book will be used by the international community, NGOs, policy makers, academia and others in elaborating more effective strategies to stop this senseless violence”.
The book launch event started with a short video compilation of the ICTY testimonies of five victims of sexual violence. This was followed by a panel discussion involving: Daniela Kravetz, sexual and gender based violence expert practitioner, former ICTY staff member and book contributor; Ambassador Stephen Rapp, former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and Distinguished Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Patricia Viseur Sellers, Special Adviser on International Criminal Law Prosecution Strategies for the International Criminal Court, sexual and gender based violence expert and former ICTY staff member. The discussion was moderated by Michelle Jarvis, Deputy to the Prosecutor.
The event concluded with a video montage containing messages from leading actors on the issue of conflict-related sexual violence: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director; Baroness Anelay, UK Minister of State and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict; Margot Wallström, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs and former UN SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Hague Institute also hosted an exhibition of artwork from a competition among university students in the countries of the former Yugoslavia to depict the concept of justice in the context of conflict-related sexual violence. Amanda Bešić , formerly a student of the International University of Sarajevo whose winning artwork features on the cover of the book, was presented with an award.
The OTP is planning a book launch event in Sarajevo later in the year. Details will be provided in due course.
All proceeds from the book will go to support survivors of sexual violence from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.