Exploring Bruges and Visiting the ICC

The end of Week 2 ended perfectly with taking a day trip to Bruges, Belgium, with fellow interns. It is hard to believe how easy it is to travel in Europe once you are here, and it is even more shocking how economical it can be.  A group of us took an early-morning train to Bruges, where we got to see many historical sites. It is the most well-preserved medieval town in Europe, and the architecture was absolutely stunning.  We visited the Basilica of the Holy Blood, saw Michelangelo's Madonna and Child sculpture, we climbed to a rooftop to see a panoramic view of the city, and we walked many of the canals and alleyways of the city.  The more places I see, the more I learn about international relations and different cultures.

Bruges Bruges

We also took a half day to go to proceedings at the International Criminal Court. We got to watch part of the trials of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, as well as Dominic Ongwen.  I made eye contact with both Gbagbo and Goudé, which was a strange feeling knowing of the atrocities in which they are being accused.  During the trial of Gbagbo and Goudé, we watched videos of the protests in Ivory Coast (that ultimately led to military troops shooting protesters), and Gbagbo smiled and shook his head throughout the playing of the video.  During the Ongwen trial, we got to hear some testimony from a witness whose identity was concealed.  When that is done at the ICC, their face is distorted on screen and their voice is changed. The facilities at the ICC are much nicer than at the ICTY, perhaps because theirs is much more permanent - with the ICTY closing down at the end of this year.

Currently, I am working on a research project that will focus on gender in relation to International Criminal Law, as well as a confidential project that the MICT is currently handling. Each day, I learn something new about a case or ICL generally, which is a great feeling. I am trying to learn as much as I can from the attorneys here, while also hoping to form connections/relationships with them to keep in touch after these short three months.