Stephen J. Rapp

Honorary Degree

Stephen J. Rapp

The University of Northern Iowa is pleased to confer the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree to Stephen J. Rapp for his lifelong commitment to justice as Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, on behalf of survivors and victims of genocide.

Mr. Rapp is a native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, a former state legislator, and was appointed under the Bush administration to serve as U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.

In 2005, he became the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to bring justice to those who perpetrated violence against the people of that country.  From December 2006 until 2009, he was Chief Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  He led the prosecutions of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and other persons for atrocities during the civil war in Sierra Leone.  Mr. Rapp is a non-partisan advocate of justice for the survivors of the Rwanda and Sierra Leone genocides, and he works to create laws and policies to prevent holocausts in the future.

President Barack Obama nominated him to be Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues for the U. S. Department of State.  This required Senate approval.  Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley said he welcomes Obama's choice of Rapp for the job.  "Steve Rapp has the respect of people around the world, and has been a leader in prosecuting war crimes committed against civilian populations.  He is an ideal person for the job."

According to a 2005 Des Moines Register article, Mr. Rapp said he would like to go to Cambodia to help prosecute the aging leaders of the Khmer Rouge.  "If nothing else, I'll be involved in it," he said.  "It's how I want to spend the rest of my life:  trying to bring justice where it hasn't existed before."

Mr. Rapp received his A. B. degree with honors from Harvard University, in government and international relations.  He attended Columbia Law School and received his J. D. degree with honors from Drake University.

From University of Northern Iowa Commencement program, spring 2010, page 11