Mock Tribunal in Action
Mock International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
You are part of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that will bring to trial "Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law." Read the following excerpt from the UN Statute (adopted 25 May 1993) establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Statute of the International Tribunal
Having been established by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 (hereinafter referred to as "the International Tribunal") shall function in accordance with the provisions of the present Statute.
Article 1: Competence of the International Tribunal
The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991 in accordance with the provisions of the present Statute.
Article 2: Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949
The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons committing or ordering to be committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention: (a) willful killing; (b) torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments; (c) willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; (d) extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; (e) compelling a prisoner of war or a civilian to serve in the forces of a hostile power; (f) willfully depriving a prisoner of war or a civilian of the rights of fair and regular trial; (g) unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a civilian; (h) taking civilians as hostages.
Article 3: Violations of the laws or customs of war
The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons violating the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to: (a) employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering; (b) wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity; (c) attack, or bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings; (d) seizure of, destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science; (e) plunder of public or private property.
Article 4: Genocide
1. The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons committing genocide as defined in paragraph 2 of this article or of committing any of the other acts enumerated in paragraph 3 of this article.
2. Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
3. The following acts shall be punishable: (a) genocide; (b) conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d) attempt to commit genocide; (e) complicity in genocide.
Article 5: Crimes against humanity
The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following crimes when committed in armed conflict, whether international or internal in character, and directed against any civilian population: (a) murder; (b) extermination; (c) enslavement; (d) deportation; (e) imprisonment; (f) torture; (g) rape; (h) persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; (i) other inhumane acts.
You will serve in the Mock International Criminal Tribunal in one of the following groups
Your job will be to represent your group's interest to the best of your ability to the successful completion of the mock trial.
Before you get started, the whole class must brainstorm the following questions to get a clearer understanding of the problem. They should know how to prepare for a trial, who to put on trial, how to conduct a trial to a successful conclusion, and what information will be needed to aid each group in their tasks.
The following Internet websites will be helpful to understand the background to the problems that created the Bosnian Crisis of the 1990s:
Pre-Trial Press Conference
Each of the following groups will be present at a Pre-Trial Press Conference to state to the "world press" their concerns for the up-coming trial of the "war criminals":
1. The International Criminal Tribunal--How are you going to insure that this will be a fair trial in which the rights of the accused will be protected while at the same time insure that justice be served?
2. The Prosecution--Who are you going to put on trial? With what crimes are they to be charged? What can you tell the public about the evidence to be presented at the trial?
3. The Defense--How are you going to defend the accused? Do you have any evidence you can share with the public to prove the innocence of the accused?
4. NATO Peace Mission--How will the "war crimes" trials affect the peacekeeping mission of the NATO forces in Bosnia? Will it put a strain on the peace process established by the Dayton Accords?
5. Serbs--What individuals or groups are to be tried as "war criminals?" How does a "war crimes" trial affect the image of Serbs throughout the world? Is the international community unfairly condemning Bosnian Serbs while ignoring crimes committed by other ethnic groups? Are international sanctions against Serbia an answer to the problems in Bosnia?
6. Croatians--Will the interests of the country of Croatia be served by the trials? How will the Croatians in Bosnia be affected by the trials?
7. Bosnian Muslims--Will the Bosnian Muslims feel that justice shall be served having the "war criminals" tried? What if the accused are acquitted?
8. The International Red Cross--Will the goals of the International Red Cross be achieved through a trial of "war criminals?" Or will it defeat its purposes? Can the International Red Cross maintain a "neutral stance" when it comes to hunting down "war criminals?"
9. Russia--Will the trials affect Russia's participation with NATO in the peacekeeping operation? How will the trials affect Russia's special relationship with Serbia?
10. Muslim States--How will countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan or the rest of the Muslim world react to the mistreatment of fellow Muslims in Bosnia? Are they taking an active part in helping the Bosnian Muslims protect themselves? How will they react if war crimes against Muslims go unpunished?
11. European Union--Will the political, economic and humanitarian interests of the Western European countries like Germany and France be served by the trial and punishment of the war criminals in the former Yugoslavia?
12. International Women's Groups--How can the international community stop the inhumane acts and atrocities committed against women and children in wartime situations?
(See Teacher Notes on Interest Groups)
The purpose of the pretrial hearing will be to read the charges against the accused war criminals. The accused will be asked to enter a plea--as to whether they are guilty or not-guilty. Both the prosecution and the defense will present to the tribunal their list of (1) witnesses, as well as, (2) exhibits of evidence.
In addition, each of the special interest groups can present to the court an Amicus Curiae (Latin for "friend of the court") brief, showing their special interest in the proceedings.
1. Opening Statements--This is when both the prosecution and the defense presents an outline or summary of their case. The opening statement is made in the future tense, as in "testimony will show" and "evidence will show." The statement is not intended to be argumentative, but rather to lay out a general picture of what each side intends to prove.
2. Presentation of the Prosecution's Case Against the Accused --The Prosecution will present its witnesses to prove their case.
a. Direct Examination of Witnesses by the Prosecution--This is the questioning of the witness. Questions must be open ended, unless the witness is recognized by the court as a hostile witness, then examination may include leading questions.
b. Cross Examination of Witnesses by the Defense--The Defense will then cross examine the prosecution's witness. During cross-examination, counsel usually asks leading questions and must always stay within the scope of the direct examination.
c. Redirect--The Prosecution will rebuild their witness after defense's cross with a redirect examination, which can be followed by defense with an optional recross examination.
3. Presentation of the Case for the Defense--The Counsel for the Defense will now have the opportunity to call witnesses to prove the innocence of the accused. This time, the prosecution has an opportunity to conduct a cross examination followed by optional redirect and recross.
4. Rebuttal Witnesses--The Prosecution may bring forth witnesses at this time to rebut the witnesses of the defense. Then the defense may bring forth it's rebuttal witnesses. In both cases, each side has the right of cross examination and redirect.
5. Closing Statements--The purpose of the closing statement or arguments by the defense and the prosecution is to provide a clear and persuasive summary of: (1) the evidence you presented to prove the case; (2) the weaknesses of the other side's case; (3) the application of the law to the case; and (4) why your side is entitled to the result you seek.
6. Deliberation and Verdict of the Tribunal--The Tribunal will recess to deliberate their verdict. The court will be called back into session for the announcement of the verdict.
Post-Trial Press Conference
The de-briefing can be in the form of a press conference in which each group can prepare a press statement giving their reaction to the verdict. The Tribunal, the Prosecution, the Defense, NATO, and the rest of the interest groups will give their viewpoint and answer questions from the rest of the groups.
The following are selected websites relating to some of the groups and their tasks:
Some Special Interest Groups
International Red Cross
International Women's Groups
Before you do any research on the Internet, compile a list of keywords that you can plug into your favorite search tools. You will be surprised at the information you get. A mock trial requires you to role play. Research your part thoroughly. Study your part as if you were rehearsing a role in a movie. Be the character you are playing! Live the part! If you do this, it will make the activity fun as well as meaningful.
Prior to beginning the activity, the students and the teacher need to determine the criteria to be used in evaluating what is a "good" and meaningful mock trial. The following can be criteria from which to choose:
Ask yourself the following questions:
Teacher Notes on Mock International Tribunal
Grade 10 - Post World War II Nationalisms - Yugoslavia
Grade 11 - American Foreign Policy
The overall goal of the activity is to provide a learning situation that will be all-encompassing. The work that is involved in doing a "mock trial" will give the students some in-depth knowledge of the former state of Yugoslavia.
Draft H/SS Standards:
Grade 10: Students will analyze international developments in the postwar world. Students compare instances of nationalism in the contemporary world and connect contemporary world events to their origins.
Grade 11: Students analyze and explain the multiple, and sometimes conflicting, aim of U.S. foreign policy in the 20th century and its impact on the home front.
Students demonstrate skill in historical research and analysis by formulating questions about enduring issues and analyzing how divergent viewpoints have been addressed and reconciled.
Language Arts Listening and Speaking
Students formulate adroit judgments about oral communication. They deliver focused and coherent presentations of their own that convey clear and distinct perspectives and solid reasoning.
Language Arts Reading Comprehension
Students read and understand grade level appropriate material. They analyze the organization patterns, arguments, and position advanced.
The mock trial allows students to investigate and analyze how unchecked jingoistic and chauvinistic nationalism in the contemporary world can take an ugly turn as witnessed by the inhumane actions done by ultra-nationalist ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia.
Information Literacy Skills
Each assigned group will have an obvious task to perform: i.e., the Tribunal must provide a fair trial; the Prosecution must gather enough evidence to convict; the Defense must develop a case for acquittal, etc.
Therefore, "accessing, evaluating and using information" is at the core of what each group will do in order to "perform" successfully at the mock trial.
If these skills have not already been covered in the class or school curriculum, it would be wise to cover the skills and techniques of Information Literacy before the activity starts.
Length of Lesson
This activity can last anywhere from two to three weeks (45-50 minute periods of a traditional schedule).
Resources or Materials Needed
Internet Connection--The more "robust" your classroom or school's Internet connection --the better for the success of the activity!
Imagination--The more imaginative you and your students are in making the "mock trial" look real--the better! For instance, have student obtain "old" graduation robes for the judges, recruit "cartoonists" to draw pictures of the participants, etc.
Information on Mock Trials--An excellent resource for instructional materials on staging a "mock trial". (http://www.19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us/bkshelf/resource/mt_conduct.htm)
Background Information That Might Be Helpful
If you have covered the Units on World War I (with the Assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo) and Totalitarianism (which includes the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials), then the students will have some understanding of the situation in Yugoslavia.
To summarize, the sequence of the activity will be as follows:
Interest Groups--Depending on the size of your class, the NATO Peace Mission, the International Red Cross, Russia, the Muslim States, International Womens' Groups, and the European Union are "optional." If you have small classes you may want to eliminate all the optional groups or just choose the ones you consider important.
Terence M. Fix: email@example.com
Technical questions on the website to: firstname.lastname@example.org
School/District: Manteca High School, Manteca Unified School District: email@example.com