Lunch Seminar with Jennifer Williams & Mitch Robinson

Guantanamo Bay Military Tribunals as iCourts


  • Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer N. Williams, Judge Advocate General, United States Army
  • Mitch Robinson, Ph.D. (Graduate Institute, Geneva - International Law), United States Department of Defense, Military Commissions Defense Organization


For over a decade, the United States Government has often and explicitly stated that the secretive death-penalty criminal military tribunals (formally known as “military commissions”) of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are designed exclusively to enforce the international law of armed conflict. This is prominently evidenced, for example, though the Military Commissions Act of 2009 and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006). LTC Williams and Dr. Robinson are attached to a legal defense team at Guantanamo Bay for a co-defendant in the on-going 9/11 trial – U.S. v KSM et al.

The presentation will have two main parts. First, the reality of American trials masquerading as quasi-international tribunals will demonstrate the potentially grave problems posed to international law and due process by specially established military courts designed to only prosecute foreign nationals for alleged war crimes. It will be argued that international standards of due process (e.g. the Decaux Principles) cannot co-exist with judicial systems that first privilege “national security,” such as the classification of CIA torture. Second, inversely, the 9/11 trial at Guantanamo Bay highlights robust and innovative external global governance and civil society mechanisms that have rebuked and undermined “Guantanamo Bay justice” as a legitimate forum of justice. Ultimately, we will see that the ongoing Guantanamo Bay trials provide an extremely revealing lens through which to view a multiplicity of challenges besetting the international legal community and international society as a whole. 

All interested are welcome to attend. Registration is not necessary.