Student Fights for International Justice in The Hague

Selkirk College Provides the Right Tools for Dream Internship


Karen Godbout’s motivation to apply her learning to help make a difference internationally was spurred by a Peace Studies lecture delivered by former Selkirk College instructor Myler Wilkinson.

“There is a tendency to think that people who go to work for the United Nations or become leaders of movements in a more international context are somehow extraordinary,” says Godbout. “Myler’s message in this one lecture was that these are ordinary people who are bothered to apply and put themselves out there to accomplish it. That meant something to me.”

Godbout in The Hague

Selkirk College Geographic Information Systems Bachelor’s Degree Program student Karen Godbout arrived to The Hague, Netherlands earlier this month where she is taking part in a six-month internship with the International Criminal Court.

At the beginning of March, Godbout began an internship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. A student in the Selkirk College Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Bachelor’s Degree Program, over the next six months she will work in the imagery unit that is part of the ICC’s Forensic Science Section to help investigate some of the world’s most horrific international violations that include genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

As a GIS analyst, Godbout is using the education and skills acquired at Selkirk College to prepare maps using techniques such as 3D modeling and imaging.

“Visual representation is really important when they are putting together evidence, some of it may be used should these cases go to trial,” says Godbout. “Witness or victim testimony might be the only evidence there is, so connecting where something happened with their stories and finding the spot on the map is an important piece. You are able to put together the story and collect more detail to help figure out what actually happened.”

The ICC was created in 1998 when 60 states signed onto the world’s first permanent international criminal court. It was officially established in 2002 in order to participate in the global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes. The ultimate goal is to help prevent these crimes from happening again. It cooperates with the United Nations, but remains independent. To date, 39 individuals have been indicted by the ICC including Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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