JCRS in The Hague and Amsterdam, 1.12 - 3.12.2016

JCRS -The Hague and Amsterdam (1.12 - 3.12).


JCRS journey to The Hague and Amsterdam aimed to experience and to reflect on the joined action of theory and practice of peace building and reconciliation. Attending lectures delivered by keynote speakers is crucial no less than meeting practitioners and learning from their experiences. At the same time, it is also of the utmost relevance to attend institutions that embody theories of justice and reconciliation. Therefore, a delegation of JCRS, guided by Prof. Martin Leiner, attended the lecture "Mobilizing the Moral Imagination: Religion in the Landscape of Fragmentation" held by Prof. John Paul Lederach on the 1st of December 2016 in The Hague, and visited the International Criminal Court on the following day.

Thursday December 1st, 2016

(left to right: Joram Tarusarira & John Paul Lederach)


Prof. Martin Leiner, Dr. Zena Barakat, Dr. Francesco Ferrari, Barbara Bushart and Dina Dajani were invited to attend the lecture "Mobilizing the Moral Imagination: Religion in the Landscape of Fragmentation", held by a leading figure in conflict transformation, peace and reconciliation John Paul Lederach - Professor of International Peacebuilding at the University of  Notre Dame. Prof. Lederach's lecture has been followed by a panel discussion of policymakers and practitioners who reacted from their personal experiences in the field; Simone Filippini, The Hon. Amma Asante, Fulco van Deventer, Michelle Parlevliet. The event was hosted by the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, University of Groningen, at Nutshuis in Den Haag, Netherlands.

(left to right: John Paul Lederach, Simone Filippini, Amma Asante,
Michelle Parlevliet & Fulco van Deventer)


This report serves to capture some of the reflections raised by Prof. Lederach in the course of his lecture - a perfect example of how science meets society - which was attended by academics, students, practitioners, politicians and persons from the civil society, serving the interests of both practitioners and scholars. Lederach's central thesis presented can be so summarized: the challenge of this Century emerges around whether in the midst of rich diversity and polarizing fragmentation our moral imagination will justify fear and violence, or lead into re-humanization necessary to protect human dignity and nurture flourishing communities.

Below are some excerpts from Prof. Lederach:  "We live in an age of fragmentation" and far too quickly our fragmentation breeds dehumanization. In the midst of this fragmentation, we find deep undercurrents of religion, appealing to moral visions about identity, survival, belonging, and the protection of deep held values. Our global and local communities face sharply competing narratives about human purpose, relationships, and the common good. The challenge of this Century emerges from this rich diversity and polarizing fragmentation. It questions the ability of our moral imagination to justify fear and violence, or lead into re-humanization necessary to protect human dignity and nurture flourishing communities. In his opinion mobilizing the kind of imagination that encourages religious and social leaders to understand but not fall prey to the dynamics of exclusionary impulses emergent with social polarization and to mobilize around belonging beyond boundaries. Prof. Lederach discusses three kinds of imagination to lead us towards dealing with this challenge. 

First, the challenge of fragmentation we face is not one that will somehow be taken care of by a miraculous national policy or universal declarations.  It requires the local, the engagement that starts at home and challenges the dynamics of polarization and othering where we live. We must understand that an imagination of a being part of a global family begins with its presence among us.  Increasingly, the expression of our great human diversity co-habits the spaces where we live.  This is precisely the locus of religious actors with the greatest capacity to exemplify the resources of compassion, openness to the stranger, re-humanizing the face of conflict.

Second, the fundamentals of belonging require inclusion and recuperating a capacity for a decent conversation.  It is often said that truth is the first casualty of war.  In the context of this discussion the first casualty of social fragmentation is a decent conversation with those who are different and disagree.  At its core the religious impulse seeks meaning and understanding.  This requires a capacity to sustain curiosity, openness to learning, and commitment to basic human dignity.  The requirements of a decent conversation reflect these fundamentals.  Reach out to engage those who are different.  Listen to understand.  Have the courage to speak honestly from the heart without blame or retreat.  Re-humanize the face of conflict.  Remember that the person with whom you may disagree, or even fear, is a person first and an opinion second.  Offer the dignity and respect you wish to receive.   This will remain the challenge of local religious leadership in a world of fragmentation - to choose to lead into re-humanization in the face of difference and conflict.

Third, we must find ways to bring to the public sphere the capacity for boundary-less belonging.  This requires another of the fundamentals of religious imagination emergent in the shared centrality of compassion:  We are all born vulnerable and fragile beings in need of care, acceptance, and love.  These remain true throughout our lives.  And this is the challenge of religious leadership in the midst of deep fragmentation - to live into and embrace human dignity and care in the midst of diversity and fragmentation.

Finally, the appeal of moral imagination to rise beyond a discourse of violence and conflict is not bound to post-conflict resolution. On the contrary, similar to the Hölderlin Perspective it is an initiative taken by individuals to rise above violence in the midst of conflict. Lederach emphasizes the impact of regular brave individuals to imagine inclusive social webs rather than binary ones of 'us' and 'them/the enemy'; to encourage their curiosity to embrace the unknown; to be innovative and creative in their  way of moving forward; and mobilize their imagination of risk. 

(left to right: Francesco Ferrari, John Paul Lederach, Zena Barakat & Dina Dajani)

Friday December 2nd, 2016



JCRS visit to the International Criminal Court (ICC) follows the workshop "Transitional Justice Workshop: Contemporary Theories and Practices", which took place in Jerusalem (18th-23rd September 2016), organized by Martin-Springer Center for Conflict Studies (Ben Gurion University of the Negev), Wasatia Academic Graduate Institute, and Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (Friedrich Schiller University Jena).

The TJ workshop had been organised to familiarise the trilateral project "Hearts of Flesh" members with concepts and dilemmas of Transitional Justice, and encourage them to consider the relevance of TJ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The possibility to establish a connection between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ICC has been emphasised by several speakers during the workshop. Prof. Chandra Lekha Sriram (Director of Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London) and Dr. Sigall Horovitz (International Nuremberg Principles Academy) highlighted it introducing the field of Transitional Justice. Prof. Yael Ronen (Law Professor at Sha'arei Mishpat Academic Center) devoted her whole talk to "The International Criminal Court and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

JCRS decided therefore to conjugate the experience of attending Prof. Lederach's lecture with the visit of the ICC. It brought to light the mechanisms in which the ICC can operate and in particular its impact on empowering victim's dignity and self-worth, mobilizing the healing process in a structural dimension. We thanks therefore Barbara Bushart, Ph.D student at the Chair for Öffentliches Recht, Rechts- und Verfassungsgeschichte und Rechtsphilosophie of the FSU Jena, which joined our journey offering us her guidance concerning the ICC.


(Francesco Ferrari)

(left to right: Barbara Bushart & Dina Dajani)


The experiences in WWII, but also the recent war-crimes committed in former Yugoslavia, showed that an international trial, which might be able to judge in crimes impacting the world community was something opportune, even if not necessary. On the basis of the Rome Statute (1998), the International Criminal Court was founded in 2002 as a contract between members of the United Nations, and took up work in 2003. Since then, the ICC is responsible for examining and judging crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crime of aggression.

ICC defines the crime of genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".

The crimes against humanity are crimes committed against any civilian population, such as murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, enslavement, torture, apartheid and deportation. Those crimes, if not committed only against one certain "racial" group, are not sanctioned by genocide.

War crimes are the use of child soldiers, torturing civilians or prisoners of war, intentionally directing attacks against hospitals, historic monuments or buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes.

The crime of aggression is the fourth and youngest crime which is fallings within the ICC's jurisdiction. It means the use of armed force by a State against another States' sovereignty. This crime has only been added to the Statute in 2010 and is yet to be ratified. Still, it resembles those crimes once judged in Nürnberg, the crimes against peace.



The Rome Statute was ratified by 121 out of 193 members of the UN. For those Parties which ratified the contract, the prosecution of those crimes, also by the ICC is mandatory. Other countries could assist voluntarily. The court is also obliged to international standards of criminal trials, such a nulla poena sine lege, etc, which also means, that it does not prosecute crimes commited prior to 2002. Even though the court is entitled to exercise jurisdiction in the cases, in which one of the crimes I mentioned have been committed in one of the member countries, it is complementary, which means, that the main responsibility to prosecute the crimes lies at the national offices. Only when a country is either not able or not willing to prosecute the crimes, the ICC will intervene. Another way for the court to pick up a case is the reference of cases to the court by individual states or the United Nation Security Council when it comes to the conclusion that a trial is necessary to maintain international peace and security - this does not only apply to members of the Rome Statute, since decisions of the UN Council are binding to every member of the UN.



The court rules within the limits of individual responsibility which means that it is always individuals which appear in front of the judges. It is not possible to accuse a State or a group as whole. Thus crimes need to be singled out in order to prove personal involvement.


Focus in the victims

The most important aspect of the ICC is probably its focus in the victims. They are allowed to present their stories and observations before the court. This possibility enables them to claim back their story and share their point of view. The trials, initiated by the ICC are thought to serve the victims of macrocriminality. Thus, their needs have to be focussed when deciding whether to open a trial. A verdict can also order reparations for the victims.



Recently, the court has been under severe criticism, especially by African countries, which accuse it of being racist, since the cases, which have been trailed in The Hague have always concerned African countries. They accuse the trial of being biased, and started a discussion about the future of the court. The prosecutor denied the accusation, stating that the cases brought to court are mostly initiated by the countries and the need for justice.

Moreover the court hinted that they also started investigation in other states such as Georgia, Gaza, Afghanistan, Columbia and other states. Another case concerning war crimes committed by British soldiers in Iraq is under preliminary investigation.


Current situation

ICC's jurisdiction is limited to the countries that have ratified the Rome Statue. It is complementary to the national legal system and can only file and investigate cases that are brought to the Court by the State. Currently, ICC is conducting preliminary examinations on ten different cases including Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq/UK, Nigeria, Palestine, Registered vessels of Comoros/Greece and Cambodia, and finally Ukraine. It is conducting investigation in ten cases, including Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur/Sudan, Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Cote D'Ivoire, Mali, Central African Republic II, and Georgia.

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