President Bush said yesterday he intends to nominate an ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, after weeks of speculation that his administration might reduce the Clinton administration's commitment to international institutions of justice.
Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe
March 22, 2001, Thursday ,THIRD EDITION
SECTION: NATIONAL/FOREIGN; Pg. A26
LENGTH: 448 words
HEADLINE: BUSH TO NOMINATE WAR CRIMES ENVOY
BYLINE: By Elizabeth Neuffer, GLOBE STAFF
UNITED NATIONS - President Bush said yesterday he intends to nominate an
ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, after weeks of speculation that
his administration might reduce the Clinton administration's commitment to
international institutions of justice.
Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former prosecutor with the International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda, was Bush's choice for the post within the US State
Department, the White House said yesterday.
"I am honored to be under consideration," said Prosper, 37, who now
serves as a special counsel in the war crimes office.
In January, US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was said to be leaning
toward abolishing the war crimes bureau, a top priority of his predecessor,
Madeleine Albright. Albright, who played a pivotal role in creating the two
war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda while acting as ambassador
to the United Nations, had created the office to ensure attention was paid
to war crimes issues.
David Scheffer, an Albright aide, played a key role in ensuring the
tribunals were adequately funded and that crucial intelligence needed for
indictments reached prosecutors. Powell earlier this year had said such
duties could be overseen by other parts of the State Department, State
Department aides had said.
Yesterday's announcement appears to indicate a change of heart, advocates
say. "It's a very positive signal from the new administration," said Nina
Bang-Jensen, of the Coalition for International Justice in Washington, DC,
a watchdog group on issues of international justice.
The announcement comes at crucial time for the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Serbia has until March 31 to hand over
former leader Slobodan Milosevic to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague or
face losing American aid. The Bush administration must also wrestle with
what to do about a treaty creating an international criminal court.
Prosper, while at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, oversaw
the prosecution of the case of Jean-Paul Akayesu, the first official ever
to be convicted for genocide. The case, which focused on the killings and
rapes in a Rwandan village, made legal history as the first in which judges
ruled that rape was a crime against humanity and an act of genocide.
Prosper, the son of Haitian doctors living in upstate New York, is a
graduate of Boston College and the Pepperdine School of Law.
"It's terrific," said Bang-Jensen of Prosper's appointment, recalling how
Prosper went personally to deliver the verdict in the Akayesu case to the
village involved. "The impressive thing about him is that he clearly hasn't
forgotten the victims."