Students Join International Criminal Court Network
Alma College has become one of the first undergraduate colleges in the United States to belong to the International Criminal Court Student Network (ICCSN).
Created in 2006 by students at the London School of Economics, the ICCSN aims to promote the work of the ICC and increase knowledge of international criminal law.
Alma joins Duke University School of Law, the University of Cambridge and other prestigious institutions in a global community that connects students who share an interest in the ICC.
These Alma College students visited the International Criminal Court in The Hague during a 2009 Spring Term class.
Ed Lorenz, Reid-Knox Professor of History, says Alma’s chapter is an outgrowth of last year’s successful ICC retreat in Chicago.
At the end of the retreat, M. Cherif Bassiouni, who helped create the ICC, told him that the students were sufficiently informed enough to play a leadership role in working for an effective relationship between the United States and the ICC.
“Michigan has a special role in this,” says Lorenz. “It was the first government in the world to ban the death penalty, which is seen as a major step forward in human rights, so it makes sense for us to be involved.”
Coopersville senior Chelsea Clark says the chapter also is a result of encouragement from Lorenz, whom she calls “the motivator.”
“When we’re talking about problems within the international community, he tells us that we can solve them,” she says. “He’s never the realist—he’s always the idealist. He puts in a lot of hours to help us.”
In addition to having the opportunity to bring guest speakers to campus, Lorenz, the chapter’s advisor, says being involved in the ICCSN has many benefits, including networking opportunities.
Clark and Elizabeth Wayne, two of the chapter’s founding members, learned this firsthand while visiting Duke for an ICCSN conference, where they met world-renowned scholars, United States diplomats and other international figures. They also connected with Duke students who were eager to pass along contact information for internship prospects.
“It was a really awesome opportunity, especially as an undergraduate student, to meet these people,” says Wayne, a St. Clair sophomore. “By having a chapter on campus, we hope to offer any student at Alma the same opportunity.”
Other benefits include travel and research opportunities. The ICCSN sends students to The Hague each year to visit and learn more about the ICC.
The student association also publishes an international journal that strongly encourages student submissions.
“We take for granted all of the opportunities undergrads have at Alma,” she says.
“We have opportunities that you just wouldn’t find at other institutions, and this is just one more to add to that list.”
The chapter is currently working with the Public Affairs Institute and the Center for Responsible Leadership to plan a conference in Washington D.C. that will celebrate the 500th anniversary of indigenous human rights.
Through community outreach, the chapter also hopes to interact with those interested in learning more about the ICC.
Wayne admits it can be challenging topic to tackle, but she feels confident that she and other members of the ICCSN chapter can find an accessible way to talk about it.
“Analyzing the cases that come through the ICC got me hooked,” she says. “There are thousands of child soldiers in Uganda and other crimes happening in the world that go against the essence of human nature. When you talk about the ICC from this standpoint, it brings up every person’s sense of moral obligation.”
Posted: Wed, February 16th, 2011 at 2:06PM