ONE ON ONE: Luis Moreno Ocampo On Syria And War Crimes

04/22/2014 03:50 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2014

I first met Luis Moreno Ocampo when he was still the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, where he investigated and prosecuted some of the world's worst criminals from June 2003 until June 2012. I then saw the 2010 documentary "Prosecutor," which depicts a year in the life of Ocampo when he controversially decided to publicly charge the elected President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"My job was to end impunity of those crimes that we said would never happen again, and yet we saw happening again and again and again," Ocampo says of his tenure at the ICC.

Before his appointment, Ocampo had famously worked as a prosecutor fighting against human rights abuses by senior military officials in his homeland, Argentina. After meeting Ocampo, I was struck by how deeply he cares about educating people on the importance of the ICC. This is evidenced by his post-ICC career as a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University.

In this ONE ON ONE interview, Ocampo explains that in 1998, 120 states decided to end impunity of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The ICC is, in his words, the "first 21st century institution serving the world." Ocampo stresses that the global community must rally behind the court in order to help it achieve its aims. "We need to create a community around the court," he states. "Because the ICC is fighting people in power, of course we create controversies. That's good." Ocampo says that without creating controversy, the court would not be doing its job.

He discusses the complications of the ongoing crisis in Syria and suggests that if the ICC had been given the mandate by the UN Security Council to become involved, the outcome of the conflict might have been different by now. Ocampo argues that if the international community had allowed the ICC to act in Syria, the conflict may not have become much worse today than it was two years ago. He says the challenge faced by the international community is to "establish global governance without global government."