The Open Society Institute hosts a conversation with Chuck Sudetic, co-author of Carla Del Ponte's memoir, Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity's Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity (Other Press).
Carla Del Ponte won international recognition as Switzerland's attorney general when she pursued cases against the Sicilian mafia. In 1999, she answered the United Nations' call to become the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
In her new role, Del Ponte confronted genocide and crimes against humanity head-on, struggling to bring to justice the highest-ranking individuals responsible for massive acts of violence in Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo.
These tribunals have been unprecedented. They operate along the edge of the divide between national sovereignty and international responsibility, in the gray zone between the judicial and the political, a largely unexplored realm for prosecutors and judges. It is a realm whose native inhabitants -- political leaders and diplomats, soldiers and spies -- assume that they can commit the big crime without being held culpable. It is a realm crisscrossed by what Del Ponte calls the muro di gomma -- "the wall of rubber" -- referring to the tactics government officials use to hide their unwillingness to confront the culture of impunity that has allowed persons responsible for acts of unspeakable violence to escape accountability.
Author David Rieff also joins the panel. Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, moderates the discussion.
Aryeh Neier is the President of the Open Society Institute. Prior to joining the Institute in 1993, he served for 12 years as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch.
Before that, he spent 15 years at the American Civil Liberties Union, including eight years as national Executive Director. Neier has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University for more than a dozen years.
Neier has contributed more than 150 op-ed articles in newspapers including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune, and articles that have appeared in newspapers in many countries.
Author of six books, he has also contributed chapters to more than 20 others. Neier, a naturalized American, was born in Nazi Germany and became a refugee at an early age. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the recipient of six honorary doctorates, the American Bar Association's Gavel Award and the International Bar Association's Rule of Law Award.
David Rieff is a distinguished journalist and author. He is the son of the late Philip Rieff and Susan Sontag. Rieff is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine.
He is the author of seven previous books, including the acclaimed At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention; A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis; and Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West.
An American of Croatian descent, Chuck Sudetic is a widely published author and lecturer on international politics and an expert on the former Yugoslavia. He covered the collapse of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia for the New York Times from 1990-95, and is the author of Blood and Vengeance(Norton, 1998), a critically acclaimed chronicle of a Bosnian Muslim family's experiences during the century of turmoil ending with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
He has worked as a contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine and published essays in The Atlantic Monthly and Mother Jones. His story on the Srebrenica massacre for Rolling Stone was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 1996. Sudetic currently works as an analyst for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague.