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Annual Meeting 2016 Keynote
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KBA Annual Meeting 2016 Keynote Speaker

Stephen J. Rapp

“The Judgment of the Law: The Tribute that Power Owes to Reason”

In this opening statement for the prosecution at Nuremberg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, hailed the decision to put the Nazi leaders on trial: “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.” From his experience as a U.S. attorney, international prosecutor, and global diplomat, Ambassador Rapp describes the progress achieved and the challenges that remain in bringing those responsible for mass atrocities to the judgment of the law.

About the Speaker

Stephen J. Rapp is the Sonia and Harry Blumenthal Distinguished Fellow for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skodt Center beginning in October 2015. As part of the fellowship, he is in residence at the Hague Institute for Global Justice for six months beginning in February 2016.

Rapp served as Ambassador-at-Large heading the Office of Global Criminal Justice in the U.S. State Department from September 2009 to August 2015. In that position he coordinated U.S. government support to international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, as well as to hybrid and national courts responsible for prosecuting persons charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. During his tenure, he traveled on more than 1,200 days to meet with the victims and survivors of mass atrocities and to engage with other governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations to assist in the development of judicial processes, investigative commissions, and documentation projects to further accountability across the globe.

From January 2007 to September 2009, Rapp was the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) responsible for the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and others bearing the greatest responsibility for serious. violations during the Sierra Leone civil war. During his tenure at the SCSL his office achieved the first convictions for the international crimes of Recruitment of Child Soldiers, Sexual Slavery, Forced Marriage, Acts of Terrorism in a Civil War, and Attacks on Peacekeepers.

From 2001 to 2007, Rapp served as Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, personally heading the trial team that achieved convictions of the principals of RTLM radio and Kangura newspaper – the first in history for leaders of the mass media for the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Rapp was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from 1993 to 2001, where his office won historic convictions under the firearms provision of the Violence Against Women Act and the serious. violent offender provision of the 1994 Crime Act. Prior to his tenure as U.S. Attorney, he worked as an attorney in private practice and served as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency and as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature.

He received his BA degree from Harvard College in 1971. He attended Columbia and Drake Law Schools and received his JD degree from Drake in 1974.