Students will go to The Hague to see international courts

Students will go to The Hague to see international courts

March 18
21:08 2013

Caydee Ensey / Contributing Writer

This summer 10 UNT students will get a chance to see how an international court decides the fate of those accused of murder, rape, genocide, and other committed atrocities as the former Yugoslavia fell apart in the early 1990s.

Political science professors James Meernik and Kimi King have chosen the group of students to travel with them to The Hague, Netherlands.

This is the final study abroad trip UNT will offer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as a part of their Political Science, International Law, Peace and Justice class.

The tribunal was formed by the United Nations in 1993 to hear cases against individuals accused of committing war crimes in the Balkan conflicts of the early 1990s.

“It occurred to us that since this was really the first international tribunal since World War II that we were witnessing history in the making,” Meernik said. “Given how open the courts and everyone involved in them were, it was a great opportunity to bring some students.”

Ph.D. candidate and political science graduate student Angela Nichols, who took the trip in 2009, said her experience was surreal.

In an article titled, “Stories from the Road,” Nichols wrote, “One afternoon in particular left all of us in tears as we watched and discussed the testimony of a woman whose child was ripped from her hands as she begged and pleaded for his life, but to no avail.”

UNT began offering the three-week program to the ICTY in 2003, and Meernik and King have since visited four times with students.

Meernik decided that the trip would become a tradition on their first trip, when Richard May, the British judge presiding over the trial of former Serbian and Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, granted the students an interview – only the second he had ever given to anyone in his seven years at the ICTY.

“By this point word had gotten around that these students were really sharp,” Meernik said. “The students really did their homework and you could tell Judge May was taken aback at their manners and knowledge.”

Barbara Castro, an international studies senior, is one of the students that will be going on the trip.

“My interest in international law was solidified with the unraveling of the Arab Spring,” Castro said. “It was striking to see theory and political ideology played out on a legal scale. At The Hague, I hope I can further investigate the correlation between media and the influence of law.”

Sources from The Hague could not be reached for comment.

While the students are in The Hague, they have to research a pre-determined topic and write a 20 to 30 page paper.

“Our students leave this program and do amazing things,” Meernik said. “We are all so proud of them.”

Visits to the ICTY will end after this year because the last of the trials for the Balkans conflict are coming to a close. But Meernik believes that UNT students will still take trips to the Netherlands in the future to study the many other international organizations based in The Hague.

“The International Criminal Court will be there forever,” he said. “Eventually they will be reviewing cases from all over the world, and we want our students to be a part of that as well.”

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