March 2012

SCU Law Professor Takes U. S. State Department War-Crimes Justice Post

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 12, 2012 - Santa Clara University School of Law professor of international law Beth Van Schaack has been selected to serve as Deputy to U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp, in the U.S. State Department's Office of Global Criminal Justice.

Van Schaack will take a leave of absence from her teaching duties to fulfill her new appointment, which will last up to two years starting March 23.

In her new role, she will be assisting Rapp in helping to formulate U.S. responses to atrocities committed throughout the world, working closely with international tribunals, non-governmental organizations, and foreign governments to ensure accountability for international crimes according to international human rights principles. She will also help the office in its role advising governments on implementing other forms of transitional justice, such as truth commissions and commissions of inquiry.

"Beth's considerable skills as a lawyer, her knowledge and expertise in the areas of human rights and international criminal law, and her judgment and professionalism make her an ideal candidate for this State Department appointment," said Santa Clara University School of Law Dean Donald Polden. "We look forward to welcoming her back once her appointment concludes."

Van Schaack is an internationally recognized expert in international law, with experience in international criminal law, international humanitarian law/law of armed conflict, and transitional justice.

Her bio can be found at

She has advised prosecutors of international crimes committed in Uganda and Cambodia, and was formerly executive director and staff attorney at the international human-rights law group, the Center for Justice & Accountability. She has served as an observer or NGO delegate and attended sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as meetings of other U.N. bodies. In 2002, she was on the defense team for John Walker Lindh, the American convicted of joining the Taliban.

She received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. She clerked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and was an Open Society Institute Justice Fellow. At SCU, she hosted an annual workshop in international humanitarian law along with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Her new boss, Ambassador Rapp, is the former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he initiated the prosecution of former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor. Prior to that, he prosecuted cases arising out of the Rwandan genocide as a senior trial counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

About the Office of Global Criminal Justice
The Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ), formerly the Office of War Crimes Issues (WCI), led by Ambassador-at-Large Stephen Rapp, advises the Secretary of State and Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and formulates U.S. policy on prevention and accountability for mass atrocities. The office coordinates U.S. Government support for international and hybrid courts that are currently trying persons responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. It also works closely with other governments, international institutions, and non-government organizations to establish and assist international and domestic commissions, courts and tribunals to investigate, judge, and deter atrocity crimes in every region of the globe. The Ambassador-at-Large coordinates the deployment of a range of diplomatic, legal, economic, military, and intelligence tools to help expose the truth, judge those responsible, protect and assist victims, enable reconciliation, and build the rule of law.

About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 975 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; combined J.D./MBA degree; and certificates in intellectual property law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for our top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see