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Urban Morgan Fellow Travels to the International Criminal Court


Luke Woolman became the first UC Law student to study abroad at The International Criminal Court during his externship with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights.

Cincinnati, OH – After completing four years of undergrad at Texas Christian University and commissioned as an engineer officer with ROTC, Luke Woolman embarked on a new journey with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. With a military background and an interest in international relations, Woolman set his sights on traveling to The Hague, Netherlands to work at the International Criminal Court.

“I’ve always been interested in International relations,” said Woolman, “being with the Urban Morgan Institute, they kind of had different opportunities, and they’ve never had someone go to the ICC before, so I was able to work with them and find a way to get there.”

The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization located in The Netherlands. The treaty that was signed to establish the ICC is called the Rome Statute, which was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998. This treaty gave the ICC jurisdiction to investigate crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in an international setting. One hundred twenty-four (124) states are currently party to the statute, however, the US formally renounced their signature on May 6, 2002.

“First of all, I was the only American on my floor. Second of all, I was the youngest person by far,” said Woolman. “The court functions in English—English and French are the main languages there—but since America isn’t a party to the ICC, they’re just less Americans there in general. Of the two people that I spent time in the office with, the two visiting professionals, one was from Canada, the other was from Australia. You get a nice mix of people to work with.”

Though Woolman may have been an outsider at the ICC, this was not his first experience studying abroad. During his time at Texas Christian University, he spent a summer working and training with the Thai army. The main challenge at the ICC, according to Woolman, was the adjustment to working with law in the international environment.

“I studied abroad in undergrad and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel, but I’ve never worked abroad,” said Woolman. “It was kind of eye opening, because in your first year of law school you learn about law in the US. The system of law, the general formatting and stuff is completely different at the ICC. It’s pretty much like learning everything all over, but most people that actually go to work at the ICC worked within their country for probably over five years as a lawyer, but it was a good experience.”

After his time spent at the ICC, Woolman is prepared to take on bigger and bolder challenges. His time dedicated to traveling abroad, along with his interest in international relations, has led him on a path toward grand opportunities. Though he doesn’t see himself working at the ICC anytime soon given the tough requirements, his future is solid as he takes on his next summer experience with the Department of Justice.

“(The ICC) is a very competitive place to get a job at. Obviously you’re competing with people all over the world, but they do expect you to at least have five to 10 years of experience in your own country before they even consider hiring you. So maybe when I get to that point I’ll think about it,” said Woolman. “This summer I’m working in DC at the Department of Justice in their criminal section, so I’m looking forward to that. I have the military too, so we’ll see what happens. I hope to probably work for the government here to some degree, ideally the DOJ or some kind of federal agency.”

About the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights
The Urban Morgan Institute has educated and trained human rights lawyers, who promote and protect human rights all over the world. Established at the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1979, the institute has become a model for other human rights programs throughout the country, based on the unique experiences students gain both inside and outside of the classroom.

Writer: Kyler Davis’19, communication intern