Following an intensive six-month international search, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, was unanimously elected the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the 89 members of the ICC’s governing Assembly of States Parties this past Tuesday (April 22).
An eminent Argentine prosecutor, lawyer, and public servant, Moreno Ocampo led the team of prosecutors that analyzed thousands of human rights abuse complaints and proceeded with 700 cases of alleged kidnapping, torture, and “disappearances” against Argentine military leaders of the 1976 to 1983 dictatorship.
“The experience of Moreno Ocampo in investigating crimes of Argentina’s military junta and violations of the laws of war during the Malvinas-Falkans conflict will make him a highly competent and skilled ICC prosecutor,” said David Donat-Cattin, senior officer of the International Law and Human Rights Program at Parliamentarians for Global Action.
Moreno Ocampo also led prosecutions arising from Argentina’s September 1987 military rebellion, among other key roles. His career as a public servant includes positions at Transparency International, an anti-corruption organization where he is a board member and former president of the Latin America division.
“The election of an experienced prosecutor and Harvard professor is further proof that the court will be a serious, responsible, and effective institution,” said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program.
“The Prosecutor will be charged with one of the most difficult tasks facing the court in making crucial decisions about which investigations to pursue,” said Fiona McKay, director of the Lawyers Committee’s International Justice Program. “His election brings us one step closer to having a fully operational International Criminal Court.”
The ICC is a court of last resort for individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. According to ICC experts, it could take at least a year before the ICC begins its first trials. It is expected that all of the court’s top officers and up to 200 professional staff will be in place by year’s end. Moreno Ocampo is expected to be sworn in this June.