Students Advocate in Washington, D.C., for ICC
Alma College students continue to advocate for U.S. membership in the International Criminal Court, with their latest efforts taking place in Washington, D.C.
Macomb senior Kyla Wojtas, Midland sophomore Madeleine Randolet and Alma College Professor Ed Lorenz accepted in invitation from Citizens for Global Solutions, a grassroots membership organization, to attend the organization’s annual meeting in May.
The invitation came as a result of a Chicago retreat organized by Alma College students. Held in April, the retreat addressed how the United States can move forward with membership to the ICC. Attendees included members of Citizens for Global Solutions. They keynote speaker was M. Cherif Bassiouni, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and United Nations war crimes expert.
Click here to view a video on the Chicago retreat.
While in Washington D.C., the Alma representatives met with staff from the offices of Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Debbie Stabenow to lobby for issues under Citizens for Global Solutions.
The group also had the opportunity to meet exclusively with Natalie Kolb, a military advisor from the Office of War Crimes Issues, at the U.S. Department of State. Here, they discussed with Kolb the ideas presented at the retreat, including the steps they believe the United States should take to improve its relationship with the ICC.
Kolb informed them that the United States plans to send a number of officials to the ICC Review Conference in Uganda this summer to continue observing the court and increasing engagement.
“I feel like Ms. Kolb had an attitude of appreciation for what we are doing,” says Lorenz. “She assured us that our concerns would be shared with Ambassador Stephen Rapp, who was unable to attend the meeting due to travel plans in preparation for the ICC Review Conference.”
Prior to the trip, Wojtas and Randolet were both packing for a demanding human rights internship, so Lorenz says Kolb was greatly impressed by their willingness to serve.
“Kyla just left for El Paso-Juarez, and Madeleine will be in Rwanda this summer, so we were especially impressed by the fact that they accompanied us,” he says.
Getting to interact with people like Kolb who are concerned with global issues such as the ICC has inspired Randolet to fight even harder for human rights.
“Through these meetings, I stepped out of my comfort zone and found that sharing my thoughts with others can make a difference,” she says. “Experiences like this only push me further in continuing to attempt to make a difference in not only my own life, but the lives of those living halfway across the world.”
For Randolet, the trip also was another unique opportunity presented by Alma that she never thought she would have.
“Who can say they’ve met with a military advisor and lobbied at the age of 19?” she says. “It’s hard to imagine all the events I’ve participated in throughout this past academic year, all building on each other to result in representing Alma and those at the retreat at the state department. It was a rewarding couple of days.”
The group plans to continue informing the public about the ICC and encouraging the government to interact with the court. ICC officials from The Hague have taken notice of this work.
“They have offered some funding and other support for Alma’s initiatives related to international justice,” says Lorenz. “At minimum, they pledged to welcome us to The Hague next year and to make staff of the prosecutor’s office available to us.”
The majority of Alma College students who were involved in the planning of the Chicago retreat participated in a 2009 travel course titled “Leadership in War and Human Rights.” The students traveled to The Hague, Netherlands, where they visited the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The ICC prosecutes individuals for genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Posted: Tue, June 1st, 2010 at 1:31PM