NEW YORK – The most sensible plan for trying deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would be for the United States to call upon the Untied Nations to establish an international court, said Richard Goldstone, a former U.N. prosecutor, during a lecture titled “Justice in Iraq: The Trial of Saddam Hussein.”
“If the court is seen as a front for the U.S., obviously that will be self-destructive, a recipe for failure,” said Goldstone during his Crowley Lecture at Fordham Law School’s McNally Amphitheater on Jan. 15. “International involvement is required. It’s important for the court to appear, and to in fact be, independent.”
Goldstone, who is the former chief prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, argued that an international court would present the fairest venue for a trial by providing what an Iraqi court could not: security, as well as competent judges, prosecutors and defense counsel. He indicated that 35 years of dictatorial rule destroyed Iraq’s judicial system.
The international court would be similar to the courts created in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda following periods of war and claims of ethnic cleansing in each country. The United Nations would fund the court and provide prosecutors and defense counsel from the international community.
Despite international involvement in the trial, Goldstone said that it is imperative the Iraqi people feel connected to the proceedings, as it would promote vindication and healing. He said that while the tribunal courts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda were great steps forward for universal justice, one of their failings was their inability to connect the people to the trials.
He went on to say that it is important that the international community also avoid the sense of “victor’s justice” that prevailed at the Nuremberg trials that followed World War II. According to Goldstone, these trials were an enormous success in holding leaders and soldiers accountable for crimes against humanity, but they were not universally fair, as resources allocated to the prosecution far outmatched those of the defendants of the defeated powers.
This fall, Goldstone, who is currently serving as a visiting professor at New York University, will serve as Fordham Law School’s William Hughes Mulligan Chair in International Legal Studies. He served on the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1994 until 2003.
The lecture was hosted by The Joseph R. Crowley Program in International Human Rights at Fordham School of Law. Founded in 1997, the Crowley Program aims to increase awareness of human rights problems around the world and to prepare lawyers to address those problems throughout their careers. The Program hosts a speaker series, a student outreach project and an annual human rights mission. Past missions have taken Fordham law students to Turkey, Hong Kong, Mexico, Ghana, Malaysia and Bolivia. The findings of each are reported in the Fordham International Law Journal.
For more information about the program or upcoming events, please visit http//law.fordham.edu/crowley.htm.
Fordham University School of Law was founded in 1905, and has more than 14,000 alumni practicing in all 50 states and throughout the world. Over the past 20 years, Fordham Law School has secured a place as a national leader in public interest law, legal ethics and human rights law.