On the 20th anniversary of the ICC coming into operation, we wanted to recollect those early days as well as the changes that brought the court to where it is now. Few people could make us relive that as vividly as Klaus Rackwitz, German jurist and current director of the Nuremberg Principles Academy.
Part of the ‘Advance Team’ which set up the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002 and then serving as the court Senior Administrative Manager of the Office of the Prosecutor, Klaus talked us through the unanimous excitement and hope with which the ICC was initially received. But he also talked us through the struggles the ICC faced over the years including when the Mbarushimana case fell through, and the great work behind trials like the Ongwen and Ali Kushayb cases.
We discussed universal jurisdiction, with the emblematic case of Germany prosecution of crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria, and the legacy of the Nuremberg Principles amid the international legal action on the war in Ukraine. But also the need for coordination work from agencies like Eurojust, where Klaus worked too, and what all this could mean for the future of international justice.
In true judicial fashion, Klaus picked two German authors for us: Heinrich Spoerl, with Der Maulkorb, the story of a prosecutor who commits a crime when drunk, forgets, and starts chasing himself, and the writer who inspired him to study law, Erich Kästner, who said that the beauty of law is that it is single-sided. And for more low-brow entertainment Klaus reaches for the novels of John Grisham.