Virtual Tribunal of the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Joint Project between UC Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center and Department of Computer Science

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The virtual tribunal project is an ambitious project with many successive steps to completion. Developing the Virtual Tribunal for the Special Court for Sierra Leone is a very large project. Applying the Virtual Tribunal framework to the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda will require considerable resources and several million dollars in funding. It also requires the collaboration of experts in computer science and international justice. The key partnership between Professors David Cohen and Ruzena Bajcsy and their students is already well-established. Professor Eric Stover has also indicated interest in joining his two database projects to this larger research framework. Grant proposal combining these three UC Berkeley institutions (War Crimes Studies Center, Computer Science, and Human Rights Center) will be competitive because each is a leader in its respective discipline and field and is represented by equally renowned faculty. There is no other institution that similarly combines such resources.

What is required now is support for developing grant proposal appropriate for a project of this scale. Professors Bajscy and Cohen are currently applying as co-PIs for two other grants that can assist this project in its early phases. The first of these is a pilot-project grant to the Google Foundation, with whom Professor Bajscy has been in intensive contact. The second is an NEH seed money grant for applying technology in the humanities. The Google Foundation grant would enable us to hire programmers to begin the work of writing the software for implementing key components of the Virtual Tribunal. The NEH grant would be applied to the archival component of the project. A Futures grant would enable us to focus our efforts on applying for much larger grants that could fund substantial parts, if not all, of the Virtual Tribunal. These applications would be directed towards IT company foundations such as those at Google, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard, as well as large foundations that support the work in international justice such as MacArthur, Ford, and Open Society Institute.

Futures grant funds will be used to obtain teaching relief and to fund a graduate student assistant to work on the demonstration model of the Virtual Tribunal, currently in development, and to assist in the process of applying for much larger grants. This proposal is not a resubmission. If awarded a grant, the administrative contact person is Jane Taylorson, MSO of the Department of Rhetoric (642-5162,, 7408 Dwinelle Hall #2670). 




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