From the Age of Impunity to the Age of Accountability: A Conversation with Deborah Amos and Joshua YaffaThursday, May 11, 2023 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm CEST/GMT+2
Platanenstraße 98A, 13156 Berlin
In the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the tactics of war were so outrageous it was difficult to process news reports from the battlefield. Was it possible that thousands of Ukrainian children were forcibly deported to Russia without parental consent? Could the brutal stories of mass rape by Russian soldiers be true? Did the Russians really bomb a building with the word “Children” written with huge letter painted on the roof? The answer to all of these questions is unambiguously yes. Such actions constitute not just a humanitarian crisis, but a challenge to nearly a century-old global system of international legal order. The Russia-Ukraine war will have a “pivotal consequence” in how the world responds to the “growth of impunity,” David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee. Is this a moment that the International Community rebuilds an accountability mechanism? Is this another Nuremberg moment?
A massive judicial mobilization is already underway. Ukraine’s national court is trying war crime cases. There is movement to vote on an international war crimes tribunal at the UN General Assembly. The International Criminal Court has issued the first indictments against the sitting Russian president. Leading governments and international governance institutions may be seriously considering methods of accountability backed by resources, specialists, and renewed resolve. Forty-three countries have referred the Ukraine case to the International Criminal Court, the biggest grouping of states to ever do so. Six European countries have become part of the Joint Investigative Team for the ICC. The UN and the EU have created commissions to document war crimes. The US State Department recently created the Conflict Observatory “to identify, track, and document possible atrocities in Ukraine.” These steps will define the international rule of law for decades to come.
This conversation, moderated by Bard College Berlin Faculty Member Nassim AbiGhanem, will gather the strings of this new accountability movement, and explain how past political decisions could stymy Ukraine’s insistence on an international tribunal. It will tackle the charge of hypocrisy from the Global South when western capitals insist on justice for some but not for all. Finally, this conversation will explore the price for failure to build a new system for accountability.
The event, which includes a reception, takes place on May 11, 2023, 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Bard College Berlin’s Lecture Hall, Platanenstraße 98A, 13156 Berlin.
Please register here until May 2, 2023. Kindly note that seating is limited.
Deborah Amos covers migration, refugee resettlement and international war crime trials for NPR news. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-‐winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered and on the NPR website. As Ferris Professor Amos teaches Migration Reporting at Princeton University in the Fall term. Among other, Amos was awarded a Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, received the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award for a career of war reporting, the Edward R. Murrow Life Time Achievement Award from Washington State University as well as the Alfred I. DuPont-‐Columbia Award, the George Foster Peabody Award. She was also honored by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for her coverage of the Syrian uprising and won a Dart Award for “Syria Torture Survivors Seek Justice.” The judges noted; “a case study of thorough, humane, and complete reporting.” A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Amos is also the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East (Public Affairs, 2010) chosen as one of the top ten non-‐fiction books by the Washington Post. She also wrote Lines in the Sand: Desert Storm and the Remaking of the Arab World (Simon and Schuster, 1992)
Joshua Yaffa is a contributing writer for the New Yorker, where he covers Russia and Ukraine. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia, which won the Orwell Prize in 2021. He has been named a fellow at New America, a recipient of the American Academy’s Berlin Prize, and a finalist for the Livingston Award.
Nassim AbiGhanem research focus is on conflict management and peacebuilding, civil society organizations contributions in mediation, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and social reconciliation. AbiGhanem teaches topics on conflict and security and transnational advocacy networks. Beyond academia, AbiGhanem advises the European Endowment for Democracy on Lebanon and is Lebanon’s country expert for Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index for 2022 and 2024.