< Distinguished speaker series

Stephen J. Rapp

DATE: June 20, 2024 6:00 pm

LOCATION: WTC

Event information

On May 20, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague announced he was seeking arrest warrants for top leaders in Israel and in Hamas for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Both sides immediately rejected the charges, and President Biden said it was “outrageous” to seek arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. 

Ambassador Rapp will give his independent judgment on what are likely to constitute war crimes in the Gaza conflict. 

He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Prevention of Genocide. He is also a Visiting Senior Fellow of Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. He serves as Chair of the Commission for International Justice & Accountability (CIJA) that has collected and analyzed more than 750,000 pages of documentation from Syria and Iraq to prepare cases for future prosecution. From 2009 to 2015, he was U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice in the State Department. 

Earlier, he served as Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2009 where he led the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. His office achieved the first convictions in history for sexual slavery and forced marriage as crimes against humanity, and for attacks on peacekeepers and recruitment and use of child soldiers as violations of international humanitarian law. 

From 2001 to 2007, he served as Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where he headed the trial team that achieved the first convictions in history of leaders of the mass media for the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Background

  • From 1993 to 2001, Rapp was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.
  • In 2001, he joined the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where he led the prosecution in the “media trial” against the leaders of the RTLM radio station and Kangura newspaper for inciting the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
  • In 2007, Rapp succeeded Desmond de Silva to become the third chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he directed the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and others alleged to have violated international criminal law during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
  • In 2015, Rapp was appointed Sonia and Harry Blumenthal Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Center, where he subsequently became a Tom A. Bernstein Genocide Prevention Fellow (2021–24).

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