best fit for a particular tribunal. “We then send the ‘Pace nominees’ through the internal application process at the various tribunals,” says Westerman. Students are also required to develop an information file on their tribunal, including copies of the statute, the decided and pending cases, plus a short paper on the particular court in question prior to departure. As to the interest level among a generation bombarded and enticed with celebrity justice: “There is no need to encourage potential interns,” insists Westerman. “Many arrive at Pace with a deep interest in, and commitment to, the protection of human rights.” In fact, many have told the selection committee that they chose to attend Pace for just this reason – the HRIA program. And the tribunals not only welcome but accommodate the interns quite well. “They do an excellent job of preparing the students for their placements by sending them briefing documents on the courts and the cases; helping them to locate housing; assisting with transit to and from the courts; and providing guards where necessary,” she adds. The tribunal locations read like a war correspondent’s dream itinerary. The program began with placements with the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); then expanded the following year to the International Criminal Court (ICC), then to Sierra Leone (SC-SL), and last year the newly established Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal (ECCC). As the tribunals become familiar with the excellent preparation and work ethic possessed by Pace students, they tend to hold positions open for the next set of nominees. “So it is our system, and then the great work of our students who create continuity at the tribunals, that has led to several now taking two Pace students each summer,” says Westerman. Kristina Ivtindzioski participated last summer in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTY where the court is just beginning cases arising from the war crimes in Macedonia. “Her parents came to the United States from Macedonia several years ago with nothing and made a wonderful life here with their family,” recounts Westerman. Several years later, their daughter arrived at Pace Law School interested in working to bring closure to those who experienced ethnic cleansing and worse in Macedonia, Bosnia, 22 | PACE LAW SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE
WINTER 2008 | 23 “What surprised me the most about the work was how similar concepts of International Criminal Law are almost identical to what I had been taught while here at Pace in our criminal law classes. I was able to keep up and excel quite well, and I credit that to professors here at Pace for laying a good foundation on these issues.” [ ] Croatia, and Kosovo during the break up of the former Yugoslavia. Because Kristina is fluent in Macedonian, she was brought into those cases immediately and began to work at a very high staff level, helping to prepare witnesses, victims, and defendants for trial. “I was so incredibly proud of her and so proud of Pace for encouraging students of this quality and background to go to law school and participate in programs such as this during their law school years,” says Westerman. The tribunal experience provides an inimitable, poignant examination for young, would-be attorneys. It also weighs heavily on the minds and emotions of the instructors who guide them. “I read all their daily work journals and often feel like I’m there with them in Arusha, Tanzania, or Freetown, Sierra Leone,” admits Westerman. One of the most emotionally draining experiences, both for the interns and for Westerman, occurred when the Rwanda tribunal interns Kristen Wagner and Ashley Belin went to visit the genocide sites in Rwanda itself, where remains have been left intact in most of the sites; where pieces of human flesh still adhere to deteriorating fabric that was once clothing on the bones of the victims, who still lie in the church, which began as a sanctuary and ended as a death chamber. The sites in Cambodia are also horrific, even after officials cleansed them, leaving just bones, skulls, etc. in several mass remembrance sites. Just working day after day at the ICTY in The Hague, cataloguing autopsy reports for pending cases can be unnerving. “I asked Nicole Trivlis, a student last year, if it wasn’t quite horrific after a while, seeing the pictures first hand and reading the reports,” recalls Westerman. “She said that it certainly was; but after a while, knowing how important this evidence is in convicting and punishing the perpetrators, ‘you see it as your job and get on with it.’ So even in the civilized first-world context of the Netherlands, the enormity and reality of these crimes is never far from your consciousness. Not a single intern has ever said that they would have preferred not to be involved, however. Quite the contrary. It has been, in every case, the life-changing experience that it promised to be.” Chris Boies and Sandra Brown in front of the UN tank, which guards the Special Court for Sierra Leone.