Congratulations to Bosque School students Alex J. ‘23 and Ochs ‘23 who were selected along with eight other New Mexico students to represent the United States at the 2022 Model International Criminal Court (MICC) which took place in Krzyżowa, Poland earlier this fall.
The Model International Criminal Court is a program sponsored by the Kreisau/Krzyzowa Initiative based in Berlin, which teaches the core principles of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to high school and university students. The 2022 MICC School session gathered more than 50 students from Germany, Israel, Poland, and the United States to participate in trial simulations in front of the ICC.
The New Mexico team was organized by New Mexico Human Rights Projects (NMHRP)—an organization that provides experiential education programs that teach the fundamental importance of human rights and respect for diversity. NMHRP collaborates with MICC to introduce New Mexico high school students to their peers from around the world in hopes of developing the next generation of human rights leaders. In addition to our two Bosque School representatives, students from Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque High School, Cottonwood Classical, Los Alamos High School, Monte del Sol Charter School, Moriarty High School, and Sandia High School also participated in the mock criminal trial.
The ICC investigates and tries individuals who are accused of crimes that are of concern to the international community, such as: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. The student teams participating in the mock trials try the exact same cases that the ICC would try. Each group is made up of students who act as prosecutors, defenders, and judges from each country represented, giving them the amazing opportunity to collaborate closely with students from other countries.
Once the students arrived in Poland, they participated in workshops about human rights and were then assigned to three-person teams with other students from Germany, Israel, Poland, and the United States. Each team was assigned one of three possible cases, and then they were given one full day to prepare their arguments. Ochs was assigned to the defense in the case of Friedrich Flick, a convicted Nazi whose trial was part of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. They said it wasn’t easy to defend a known war criminal. However, they found the trial process fascinating and felt their team did an excellent job acting as the defense and that the judges gave the defendant what they felt was a fair sentence. “At first, I didn’t even know what the International Criminal Court was,” said Ochs. “In the end, I learned it’s quite helpful, and in a way, it’s sad the U.S isn’t a part of it…because if it was, there would be a lot that has happened in the U.S. that wouldn’t have been swept under the rug.”
Once the trials were over, the students had the opportunity to discuss the punishment phase of the trials and how the punishments for international crimes are enforced. Because the ICC does not have its own enforcement body or police force, it must rely on other countries to enforce the sentences handed down by the ICC, and Ochs said it was enlightening to learn how very different enforcement can look from country to country.
In addition to participating in the model trial, Alex and Ochs were able to spend some time exploring a few cities and making new friends. They visited the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and at the end of their trip, they were able to spend five hours exploring Wrocław, Poland where they saw many of the famous Wrocław gnomes. Ochs said, “We couldn’t explore all of Wrocław because it’s huge, but it was beautiful, and I loved the buildings and the actual Polish food. They have these gnome statues everywhere there. You’ll see a gnome at an ATM, or holding a guitar, or protesting. They were so cute.”
One of the best parts of the trip was the evening they spent around a bonfire with the students from all the other countries. “The trials were over, we had done our part, and it felt so good to be done. We were sitting with two other American students and a couple of Polish students. We were sitting in a circle and singing songs that one of them was playing on the guitar. That was super fun.”
Thank you, Alex and Ochs, for being such wonderful representatives of Bosque School!