IBA applauds legal profession’s contribution to ICC’s success and urges lawyers to do even more to support the Court
28 Nov, 2012
In a new report, released in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC or the Court), the International Bar Association (IBA) praises the significant contribution made by the legal profession to the ICC’s success over the last ten years and urges lawyers to do even more to help the Court fulfil its mandate.
The IBA report entitled Counsel Matters at the ICC: A review of key developments impacting lawyers practising before the ICC, examines the relationship between lawyers – in their diverse roles before the Court – and the ICC, positing that that the relationship must be mutually reinforcing, to ensure that both are able to function effectively.
Counsel Matters at the ICC was launched at a high-level panel discussion at the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) 11th meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, on Tuesday 20 November 2012. The audience included delegates of States Parties and observer States attending the ASP, Court officials, lawyers, and members of civil society organisations. In a thought-provoking keynote address Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, First Vice-President of the ICC, praised the contribution of lawyers to the work of the ICC and challenged the legal profession to remain steadfast in its role as guardian of the rule of law. She said: ‘The success of the ICC is due in large part to the excellent work of the lawyers acting with integrity and professionalism, fulfilling their role and ensuring the proper functioning of the Court. The challenge for the legal profession in the ICC’s next decade is to forge a new consensus on how to advance the mandate of the Court and continue to uphold the rule of law.’ The full address can be downloaded here.
While commending the work of the Registry in supporting counsel, the 38-page report identifies a number of unique challenges encountered by lawyers in their efforts to effectively represent victims and defendants before the Court, such as the difficulty in conducting investigations in situation countries, particularly those which are not States Parties to the Rome Statute. The report also highlights a pressing need to ensure that the views, experiences and concerns of counsel are taken into account in relation to major legal and policy decisions undertaken by the ICC. These include regarding an expanded mandate for the Offices of Public Counsel, the Registry’s proposal to establish a mechanism to monitor the performance of counsel, and the contentious review of the legal aid system.
Importantly, the Report encourages the legal profession to do more to bolster support for the ICC at the national level in keeping with the principle of complementarity, including through promoting ratification of the Rome Statute and the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities.
Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director, commented, ‘We look to the Court for an agenda of reform, including updating its regulations and code of conduct for counsel, and making the code inclusive of prosecutors. The reform agenda should be undertaken in close collaboration with counsel. We look to counsel to engage with the Court and to commit collectively to ensuring the highest standards of representation for clients.’