Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

International Justice/ICTY: Feb/Mar ‘10

IWPR joins initiative to give journalism students worldwide a deeper knowledge of international criminal law and justice.
By Merdijana Sadović

IWPR has become part of a global network of universities and NGOs developing a curriculum for students of journalism on coverage of international criminal justice.

With support from the Open Society Foundation, IWPR has partnered the Salzburg Global Seminar, the International Centre for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland in this new initiative.

It aims to give journalism students worldwide a deeper understanding of international criminal law and justice and to teach those students the skills to identify key stories and appropriate sources.

International jurists, university partners, NGO workers and journalists from across the globe convened in Austria in February to identify the core topics, cases, issues, and documents – national, regional, international – that journalism students need to be taught.

With attention to both global concerns and regional needs, the workshop participants were expected to draft the outlines of a curricular platform on “International Law and Justice for Journalists” that can be adapted to a wide range of university journalism departments and law schools.

During the three-day workshop in Salzburg, participants considered the needs of journalism programmes in universities in countries that have wrestled with covering stories about justice and rights: South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Bosnia and Kosovo.

They also worked to identify those issues, cases and documents relating to international justice, law and human rights, especially with regard to the roles played by the International Criminal Court, ICC, and other similar tribunals.

One of the important tools used at the workshop was IWPR’s handbook Reporting Justice, published in 2006 with the aim of preparing journalists to cover war crimes trials in international and local courts. This handbook covers many issues a journalist new to war crimes reporting needs to know - from basic facts on international and ad-hoc tribunals, to war crimes proceedings, contempt of court, alternative justice mechanisms and international humanitarian law.

The handbook was praised by many participants at the Salzburg workshop as an exceptionally effective and useful tool for reporters who don’t have much experience with this subject. It was also used as a starting point for developing the global curriculum on international criminal justice.

After a draft of the curriculum was developed, participants pledged to offer it to the faculties of journalism in their respective countries, so that the new course could be taught worldwide. IWPR has already started preliminary talks with the Department of Journalism in the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo and the faculty staff expressed a great interest in the subject.

They even proposed developing a fully-fledged, post-graduate programme on international criminal justice for journalists, which would be certified by partner universities in the United States.

IWPR is currently developing a concept for that programme and will be actively involved in its implementation.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, IWPR’s network of local reporters, activists and analysts are examining the economic, social and political impact of this era-defining pandemic.

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