Thursday, April 12, 2012

NEWS FROM PITT: Pitt Law School to Hold April 19-21 International Conference Assessing the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Conference convener is Pitt Professor Charles C. Jalloh, former legal advisor to the Office of the Principal Defender for the Special Court for Sierra Leone; keynote address to be delivered by Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues and former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law will hold the first international conference April 19-21, assembling more than 50 leading legal scholars, practitioners, and transitional justice experts from the United States, Sierra Leone, and around the world to assess the contributions and legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to Africa and international criminal justice. The conference will be held in Pitt law school’s Barco Law Building, 3900 Forbes Ave., and Pitt’s University Club, 123 University Place, Oakland.

The tribunal was established jointly by the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone in January 2002. It will complete its last and most important trial, that involving former Liberian President Charles Taylor, with the issuance of judgment in that high profile case in The Hague on April 26, 2012. All appeals are expected to conclude by the end of December 2012, making the Sierra Leone court the first of the three major UN-supported ad hoc international criminal courts to successfully complete its mandate.

Pitt assistant professor of law Charles C. Jalloh is the conference convener. Jalloh, among other positions, was formerly legal advisor to the Office of the Principal Defender for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, associate legal officer in the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and a visiting scholar in the Office of the Public Counsel for the Defense in the International Criminal Court. Before international practice, he was legal counsel in the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section in the Department of Justice (Canada).

Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues and former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, will deliver the keynote address, titled “The Challenges of Investigating and Prosecuting International Crimes in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone.”

The conference will begin at 6 p.m. April 19 with registration followed by a welcome reception in the Barco Law Building. Four breakout panels examining key substantive and procedural questions of international criminal law are scheduled on April 20 and 21, all in the University Club. Rapp’s keynote presentation will be given from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 21 during the plenary, with Jalloh’s closing remarks at 2:50 p.m. For the conference program, visit For complete details about the conference, including how to participate in it, visit

Rapp heads the Office of Global Criminal Justice in the U.S. Department of State. Appointed by President Barack Obama, Rapp, an Iowa native, assumed his duties on Sept. 8, 2009. Prior to assuming that position, he served as chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed special tribunal, beginning in January 2007, where he led the prosecutions of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and others alleged to bear greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

During his tenure as chief prosecutor, Rapp and his colleagues achieved the first-ever convictions for sexual slavery and forced marriage as crimes against humanity, and for attacks on peacekeepers and for recruitment and use of child soldiers as violations of international humanitarian law.

As senior trial attorney and chief of prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 2001 to 2007, Rapp headed the trial team that achieved convictions of the principals of RTLM radio and the Kangura newspaper—the first convictions in history for leaders of the mass media—for the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Rapp was U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Iowa from 1993 to 2001.

A prolific scholar from Sierra Leone and Canada, Jalloh was educated at McGill and Oxford Universities and also holds affiliate faculty appointments at Pitt’s Ford Institute for Human Security in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs as well as in the African Studies Program. He is also founding editor-in-chief of the interdisciplinary African Journal of Legal Studies. Jalloh currently serves as cochair of the International Criminal Law Interest Group, American Society of International Law and on the War Crimes Committee Advisory Board of the International Bar Association. He will edit the conference proceedings for a book entitled The Sierra Leone Special Court and Its Legacy: The Impact for Africa and International Criminal Law that will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2012.

The Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board has approved this two-day course for up to nine and one-half (9.5) hours of substantive credits for a cost of $100.

The conference is sponsored by Pitt School of Law’s Office of the Dean and Center for International Legal Education, the Ford Institute for Human Security, University Center for International Studies, the Africa and International Criminal Law Interest Groups of the American Society of International Law, and the Africa Law Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



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