Michael Newton nominated by the United States to serve on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Nov 8, 2018

Professor Michael NewtonMichael A. Newton, professor of the practice of law, has been nominated by the United States to serve as a judge on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, which was established by the United Nations Security Council to continue the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for both the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Newton is one of eight nominees selected by their nations for election to the judicial roster. Established by virtue of a Security Council Resolution in 2010, the Residual Mechanism sits in The Hague for the former Yugoslavia and in Arusha, Tanzania, for Rwanda. It addresses tasks remaining from the ad hoc tribunals previously authorized by the Security Council, including the cases of indicted persons who remain at large and other cases yet to be completed, and responds to new motions as they are filed.

If elected, Newton would be one of 25 judges from around the world who hear motions, trials and appeals as part of the bench when assigned by the President of the Court. He would continue to serve on Vanderbilt’s law faculty.

The new round of judicial elections is expected to be held in the U.N. General Assembly in December 2018.

An expert in war crimes, human rights and transnational justice, Newton has more than 30 years of experience in international criminal law. Over the course of his military and academic careers, he has advised judges, prosecutors and defense teams in international and domestic cases in various courts and tribunals. He is also an experienced prosecutor whose experience spans all phases of criminal proceedings, from field investigations to pre-trial motions practice to trial and appellate litigation. Newton has served as an expert witness in numerous terrorism-related trials and is admitted to the counsel list of the International Criminal Court. During 2018, he participated in the appeal of Jean Pierre Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, at the ICC. This September, he argued as an amici invited by the ICC Appeals Chamber in the case against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir. The amicus brief Newton argued incorporated the work of his students, who provided baseline data for the mappingbashir.org website as part of their work in the International Law Practice Lab Newton teaches at Vanderbilt.

“Mike Newton is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the Residual Mechanism,” said Ingrid Wuerth, who holds Vanderbilt’s Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law. “He has spent more than a decade directing and conducting research and drafting reports and briefs for both of the International Criminal Court tribunals the Residual Mechanism addresses.”

An authority on the law of armed conflict, Newton served as the senior adviser to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. State Department from January 1999 to August 2002, during which he implemented a wide range of policy positions, including U.S. support to accountability mechanisms worldwide. He helped negotiate the “Elements of Crimes” for the International Criminal Court, and was the senior member of the team teaching international law to the first group of Iraqis who began to think about accountability mechanisms and a constitutional structure. From 2006 to 2009, he was the International Law Adviser to Iraqi Judicial Chambers, traveling to Baghdad repeatedly to aid international and Iraqi lawyers and jurists on a range of difficult cases and trial issues. Prior to the entry into force of the ICC Statute, he served as the U.S. representative on the U.N. Planning Mission for the Sierra Leone Special Court and was a founding member of its academic consortium. He is an elected member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and listed on the expert roster of Justice Rapid Response.

Newton has served on the executive council of the American Society of International Law and as an invited expert for the Genocide Prevention Task Force established by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. Institute of Peace.  He currently sits on the Advisory Board of the American Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Project.

At Vanderbilt, he developed the innovative International Law Practice Lab, which has provided expert assistance to judges, lawyers, legislatures, governments, and policy makers around the world for more than a decade. Most recently, Newton was the editor of The United States Department of Defense Law of War Manual: Commentary and Critique, to be released by Cambridge University Press in December 2018.


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