< Distinguished speaker series

Dermot Groome

Visiting Professor of Penn State Law

Closing the Impunity Gap for War Crimes in Ukraine

DATE: April 11, 2023 6:00 pm

LOCATION: World Trade Center Baltimore

Event information

On March 17, the International Criminal Court in the Hague announced the most extraordinary arrest warrants in its 22-year history — for Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian federation, and Maria Lvova-Belova, his Commissioner for Children’s Rights. The charge was war crimes: the deportation of thousands of children from conquered Ukraine territory into Russia. The 123 countries that are party to the court’s founding statute (the U.S. is not) now have an obligation to arrest Putin and his aide.

If that happens, it will not be peaceful: top aide Dmitri Medvedev says arresting Putin would be declaring war on Russia. He warned Germany that if it acted against Putin, Russian missiles would soon fly into the Chancellor’s office and the Bundestag.

What happens now? Is there a chance Putin will be arrested and sent to the Hague for trial? If
not, how will he brought to account? Or will there be impunity?

To answer these questions and more, we’ve invited one of the country’s top experts on international justice to speak on April 11. Professor Dermott Groome is a professor at Penn State’s Dickenson College of Law who spent 11 years as top prosecutor at the Hague Tribunal set up for the former Yugoslavia. He led the investigation, indictment and trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian president, the first head of state indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was chief prosecutor in the cases of Serb military leader Gen. Radko Mladic and other top Serbian figures.

Now he’s part of the group advising the Ukraine chief prosecutor on the 65,000 war crimes cases they’re now investigating. If western prosecutors are brought in to assist the Ukraine,
Professor Groome is sure to be on that list.
The title of his presentation is: Universal Jurisdiction: Closing the Impunity Gap for Crimes Committed in Ukraine.

One of Professor Groome’s great skills is boiling down legal theory to understandable language. You can get a sampling from listening to the lecture series he prepared for Ukrainian war crimes prosecutors and investigators or from reading his Handbook of Human Rights Investigation. A law graduate of Boston College, Professor Groome began his career in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. He worked in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and advised the Minister of Justice and the courts as well as Legal Aid of Cambodia. Last year, Penn State gave him its President’s Award for Academic Integration and credited him for developing legal processes and doctrines that will guide international prosecutors and lawyers “for decades to come” as well as educating “a new generation of lawyer leaders for decades to come.”

The citation added: “While he has set the standard for delivering justice to survivors of atrocity crimes, his level of humility has reached the highest of heights.”


Notable Accomplishments: 

Senior prosecutor in the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia

Professor of Law at Penn State’s Dickinson Law

Harvey A. Feldman Distinguished Scholar 

Teaches courses in International Criminal Law, Criminal Law, and Human Rights

Oversees the International Justice Program 

Received the 2022 President’s Award for academic integration

and the 2021 Faculty Excellence Award

Faculty Impact

Member of the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group 



International trial advocacy program – In 2017, Groome, alongside Gary S. Gildin and four Dickinson Law students, developed this first-of-its-kind program to support lawyers practicing before international tribunals. 

Justice for Ukraine webpage – After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Groome created this webpage to provide resources for Ukrainian lawyers and prosecutors focused on war crime cases. 



Social Science Research Network 

Handbook of Human Rights Investigation – Published in 2011, Groome’s book applies accepted practices of criminal investigation to the investigation and documentation of human rights abuses. 

“International Criminal Law,” International Lawer 

“Adjudicating Genocide: Is the International Court of Justice Capable of Judging State Criminal Responsibility?” Fordham International Law Journal 

“Re-Evaluating the Theoretical Basis and Methodology of International Criminal Trials,” Penn State International Law Review

“No Witness, No Case: An Assessment of the Conduct and Quality of ICC Investigations,” Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs – 

“Child Soldiers—Both Victims and Combatants: Is There Anything IHL Can Do?” – This article examines the simultaneous yet inconsistent characterizations of child soldiers and argues that IHL must develop a third status in addition to the combatant/civilian distinction


Documentaries based on Groome’s cases: 

The Trial of Ratko Mladić – this film chronicles the trial of the “Butcher of Bosnia” accused of genocide and war crimes 

Crimes before the ICTY: Višegrad – this film tells the gripping story of the judicial response to the ethnic cleansing in Višegrade, Bosnia and Herzegovina  


Short Comments: 

Putin is a wanted man — a trial isn’t imminent, but the world is closing in (nbcnews.com)

Ukraine court begins first war crimes trial for Russian soldier – The Washington Post

Ukraine Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group • Stimson Center – Groome shares his expertise in the APSG (Atrocities Prevention Study Group Project) meeting on the Ukraine Atrocity Crimes Advisory group