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When do we start talking about war crimes in Ukraine? A conversation with Stephen Rapp

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

As Russia struggles to explain its bombing of a Ukrainian hospital, what does accountability look like on the international stage? And what are the implications of Biden's Supreme Court nomination — potentially the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.

Stephen Rapp led the prosecution of the media that incited the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and former Liberian president for violations of international criminal law during the Sierra Leone Civil War. On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues under President Obama about what accountability will look like in Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"All of those kinds of tactics, we want to send a clear signal that those individually involved in them for the rest of their lives, they can dream of going on a vacation to the Mediterranean. And bam! They're arrested," Rapp said. "And certainly when it comes to these crimes there is no statute of limitation. There are hundred year old Nazis that are being tried in Germany for their participation in Auschwitz. You cannot escape responsibility for these kinds of horrors."

Then, we hear from Adrien Wing, an associate dean at the University of Iowa College of Law, about President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson currently sits on the District of Columbia's federal appellate court and has a history working as a public defender. While she would make history as the first Black woman to sit on the court, her ivy league education and clerkship with Justice Stephen Breyer put her right in keeping with a post on SCOTUS.

"When you add up all of these credentials, by any definition, they all constitute that she is highly qualified for this position," Wing said.

Guests:

  • Stephen Rapp, former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice
  • Adrien Wing, associate dean in international and comparative law programs and the Bessie Dutton Murray Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law; director of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights
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Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River