Stephen Rapp looks back on six years as US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes

09 September 2015 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Stephen Rapp told IJT that his office did everything they practically could do to ensure accountability in Syria by "documenting the heck" out of the atrocities that are being committed and collecting "irrefutable evidence". In one of his first interviews since stepping down last month as US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Rapp named the arrest of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic as his finest moment in office.

Stephen Rapp speaking at a Coalition for the ICC event in 2013 (Photo: Flickr/CICC)
Image caption: 
Stephen Rapp speaking at a Coalition for the ICC event in 2013 (Photo: Flickr/CICC)

Looking back at your six years as the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, what have been the highlights for you personally?

Stephen Rapp (SR): Probably the best moment was on May 26, 2011, when Ratko Mladic was arrested and shortly thereafter transferred to The Hague [IJT-130]. Achieving the arrest of fugitives of the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda was the one of the reasons our office was established back in 1997. The arrest of Mladic and the arrest less than two months later of Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic [IJT-166] brought the ICTY to a perfect score in terms of resolving all 161 of its cases by the appearance of the accused.

You have waved off suggestions that you’ve quit in frustration, and while human rights organizations heap praise on you personally, they criticize the US for its lack of a consistent policy.

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