From the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, to a classroom at the UPEACE Campus, Thomas Koerner faces a new challenge when teaching about Transnational Justice and International Criminal Law (ICL): a diverse body of students from different backgrounds, countries and realities, all eager to learn about a complex and above all, very specific subject.
This requires Koerner to develop a common language that can reach a crowd that knows little or nothing about the topic, in simple terms that still capture the complexity of the topic. As he explains, preparing for teaching comes as an excellent exercise that helps him remain aware of the court’s duty and of his own, and the reasons why they do things in a certain way. “You need to zoom out and explain what this is actually about”, he explains in his own words.
He believes engagement and the diversity among his students are great assets, allowing their interests and questions to lead the course of the lectures. He seeks to give his students an impression of how the ICC operates, and what his work as a lawyer for the ICC consists of.
UPEACE comes as a natural environment for him, since cultural diversity is one of the aspects he most enjoys about working at ICC, as it enriches his daily life. “I like being around people from different cultures, and where everybody speaks different languages, where everybody has kind of a different background, but where you'll also find likeminded people, because the same kind of people are drawn to the same kind of things,” he says. The ability to contribute to life-altering decision-making and the obtaining of precise results were key motivators in his involvement with international criminal law, a field of Law that he finds professionally and personally fulfilling.
While asking him about the relevance of UPEACE, he turned the question around and asked: “How can a university like UPEACE not be useful?” He believes it is all about motivating people to be on the right side, showing them they can make a difference and pointing them in the direction of actions that can have a real impact. He describes our topic-based university as a neat idea, a multidisciplinary approach towards a same goal, an opportunity to work on a same theme from different aspects.
Thomas is in line with the ICC´s position that there is no lasting peace without justice. How do we achieve justice? For Professor Koerner, THAT is the issue up for debate. We hope to see him on campus again next year, and who knows, maybe he can help us settle this debate!