Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Impactful internship at UN war crimes tribunal

  Posted on: October 11, 2016

Ruby Lau Hague Internship

Ruby Lau (second from left) at her summer internship in The Hague, Netherlands, at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Even though she has just started her second year, TRU Law student Ruby Lau has already had an experience many students would envy—an international internship at a United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Lau spent the summer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as an intern on the defence team of Ratko Mladić, a former Bosnian Serb military leader on trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, in relation to conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s.

“I was engaged in the procedure of fighting for our client’s due process rights. The defence plays a critical role in ensuring the fairness of the proceedings,” Lau explained.

In her position, Lau summarized and reviewed court transcripts; examined evidence including witness statements; conducted substantive and procedural legal research in international criminal law, international humanitarian law and national criminal law and drafted memos of legal analysis.

Ruby Lau

Ruby Lau (centre)

“During my time there, we made a number of important filings,” she added, noting Mladić has been on trial since 2012 and the case has been one the largest in front of the ICTY (the Mladić trial is wrapping up this month and the ICTY is set to close in 2017).

Not only was she the only Canadian among 20 interns from all over the world, she was also among the youngest—something that made her experience all the more meaningful.

“Many of the interns had already completed their law degrees and were qualified to practice in their home jurisdictions, so it was an enriching, humbling and inspiring experience to work and learn alongside such accomplished and dedicated interns and lawyers,” said Lau.

She says the practical experience was complemented by being able to attend court sessions where she could observed talented lawyers and advocates at work.

“I learned a lot about oral advocacy, litigation strategy and courtroom dynamics.”

According to its website, the ICTY was established in 1993 and has irreversibly changed the landscape of international humanitarian law and provided victims an opportunity to voice the horrors they witnessed and experienced.


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