University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Gordon conducts advocacy training for Bosnian War Crimes Chamber

Gregory S. Gordon

Gregory S. Gordon

UND law professor Gregory S. Gordon was recently invited by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to conduct trial advocacy training in Sarajevo.

“I was asked to do this training program for judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys preparing for upcoming cases in the Court's War Crimes Chamber,” said Gordon, a former international war crimes prosecutor and director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies.

The training program was also sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Gordon, who worked with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, conducted the training with attorney Joanna Koerner, QC (Queen’s Counsel), a British barrister and Senior Trial Attorney for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Given their backgrounds and nationalities, Gordon and Koerner's intensive two-day training program was an interesting blend of American and British materials and techniques.

It involved lectures on war crimes trial practice and simulated exercises. In addition to the actual trial advocacy training, Gordon and Koerner conducted a "train the trainers" session for senior judges and attorneys that would permit them to conduct future training sessions themselves.

"It was an honor to work with judges and attorneys of that caliber and with amazing experience in their own domestic legal system,” Gordon said. “It was a very interactive process and, in many ways, I felt we learned as much from them as they did from us."

As one of the main battlegrounds in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s and a large focus of the conflict's notorious ethnic cleansing, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the scene of Europe’s worst atrocities since World War II. Many of the high-level perpetrators have been brought to justice at the ICTY in The Hague.

The Court of BiH War Crimes Chamber was created in 2002 as a hybrid institution. It is a domestic court with international and Bosnian personnel, to receive ICTY referral cases of lower- or intermediate-rank accused. As the ICTY enters the final phases of its "completion strategy," the Court of BiH is receiving a larger share of Bosnian war crimes cases.

"I really appreciated the opportunity to make a contribution to war crimes justice efforts in this part of the world,” said Gordon, who had never worked directly on cases related to the Bosnian conflict. After the training program, Gordon also delivered a lecture on war crimes trial practice at the Bosnian Bar Criminal Defense Section's Annual Conference.

Gordon also recently trained prosecutors at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia. That tribunal is currently in session.

Useful links:

For more information, contact Gregory Gordon, associate professor, School of Law, at 777-2104 or

-- Juan Miguel Pedraza, writer/editor, University Relations, 777-6571,

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