ICC Advisory Project


INP served as an adviser to the International Criminal Court. INP helped the ICC recognize that in the many situations of ongoing hostilities in which the ICC becomes involved, purely seeking international justice in the narrow sense might exacerbate conflict on the ground. INP worked directly with Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, to reduce this potential tension between peace and justice, and advised the ICC on how to promote both goals. INP undertook two major projects in its advisory role to help the ICC reach its potential as one of the most promising international institutions designed to address situations of violent conflict: 1) Development of Conflict Assessment Tool, and 2) ICC and Psychology Working Group.

1. Development of Conflict Assessment Tool

Working with the Harvard Law School Advocates for Human Rights, INP assisted in the development of a conflict assessment tool designed to aid the ICC in evaluating the subjective experience of parties in a violent conflict. The resultant “Conflict Map” has the purpose of aiding the ICC in understanding the emotional reality of those involved in a violent conflict. More specifically, the tool helps the ICC identify the underlying tensions of those on the ground, the reasons why such tensions exist, and what exactly conflicting parties hope to gain through the conflict.

Purpose for Developing the Conflict Assessment Tool
War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and Genocide happen in the context of institutional systems wherein multiple actors have interests and concerns underlying their stated positions. When the ICC launches an investigation into violations of international humanitarian law, it becomes a part of that system, and in turn influences how the system will play out. Under the assumption that the ICC wants to contribute not only to the attainment of pure international justice narrowly construed, but also to a lasting peace, the ICC requires a systematic, theoretically-informed, and rigorous analytical mechanism to determine the effects its intervention will have on the conflict. Utilizing the conflict assessment tool will help the ICC Prosecutor focus on the interests and rationales motivating the actions of each party to a conflict. In turn, the ICC prosecutor can develop a strategy to shift the conflict dynamics in such a way that the actors are themselves motivated to find a non-violent resolution to their conflict.

The Conflict Assessment Tool
The conflict assessment tool creates a means for systematic analysis of many different aspects of a conflict situation. The tool seeks to guide a typical researcher at the Office of the Prosecutor toward a nuanced understanding of the objective and subjective dynamics of a conflict, and to think strategically about how a potential ICC investigation might affect those dynamics. The tool suggests that the researcher focus on several main topic areas.

  • Assess the current conflict situation, including the actors in the conflict, the dynamics involved, and what the situation means for the ICC.
  • Understand the positions, interests, and core concerns of the key stakeholders, as well as assessing what actions the ICC might take, what actions the ICC is currently taking, and why it is currently taking those actions.
  • Interpret the history of the conflict, including the nature of the conflict, attempted solutions, and past triggering effects of the conflict.
  • Explore the mythologies of the conflict and the role that gender issues play into the conflict.
  • Consider the impact that a prosecution will have on the ground, taking into account the moral hazard problem for national courts, the cost externalization of national governments, the increasing costs of defection for actors involved in the conflict, the delegitimization of particular officials, the emotional legitimization of certain parties, the role of the ICC as a catalyst to domestic actors, and the potential for either stabilizing or destabilizing a given situation.

ICC and Psychology Working Group

INP convened an interdisciplinary working group of conflict resolution experts, international relations scholars, psychiatrists and psychologists, and public health experts to explore the potential use and application of a conflict assessment tool to the work of the ICC, as well as to brainstorm more broadly about how psychology could aid the ICC in its mission. While perhaps not immediately apparent, the field of psychology has decades of experience identifying and systematizing subjective human realities. Its longstanding experience using tools to map the subjective personal realities of people has proved illuminating for conflict analysts seeking to develop tools to capture subjective social realities.

The renowned participants, primarily faculty from Harvard, included Jamil Mahuad (former President of Ecuador), Robert Jay Lifton (the world’s foremost expert on the psychology of perpetrators of mass atrocity), Bruce Patton (co-author of Getting to YES), Judith Herman (acclaimed expert on trauma), Bruce Cohen (premiere researcher in psychiatry and president emeritus of McLean Hospital), Joe Albeck (expert on the intergenerational transmission of trauma), Joe Powers (expert on group relations), Steve Nisenbaum (expert on conflict management and psychology), Gerald Fromm (expert on conflict and psychoanalysis), Ron Schouten (expert on psychiatry and the law), Susan Hackley (managing director of the Program on Negotiation), Bruce Shackleton (expert on behavioral psychology), Claire Pierre (expert on participatory research), Daniel Shapiro (director of INP), and other senior Harvard faculty from Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Cambridge Hospital, and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

The interdisciplinary working group came up with several ideas and areas of advice for the ICC Prosecutor. One of the most promising and innovative ideas developed by the working group session involves the establishment of a Victim’s Advocate Program within the ICC. The idea for this program arose out of the conception that peace and justice are not mutually exclusive, and with the desire to pursue activities that could increase both goals at the same time. By promoting the healing process and dealing with the trauma that many victims have experienced, the proposed Victim’s Advocate Program can indeed further both goals.