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Speech of the ICCBA President
International Meetings of the Defence – 8 November 2018
Excellences, Your most distinguished honors, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here in my capacity as President of the International Criminal Court Bar
Association to represent the Executive Council of the Association and all members of the Bar
present in nearly all countries of the world in this Conference. I bring the best wishes from
the ICCBA to all assembled her today in this great occasion.
The ICCBA was established in 2016. It serves as the collective voice for Counsel and support
staff at the ICC and that of its members worldwide. The Association was accorded
recognition by the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) of the Rome Statute in its first year, with
the important mandate to represent Victims and Defence Counsel and Support Staff
appearing before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Through that recognition, the ASP
provided the victims and defence counsel before the ICC a structured intuitional framework
within which to participate in the realization of the objectives of the Rome Statute.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the ICC and the Ad Hoc Tribunals are living
institutional frameworks on which the collective conscience of universal justice is anchored.
The duty of ensuring the vitality and sanctity of this conscience of universal justice is
undisputedly that of lawyers. Considering this important mandate, it is significant to recall
that the first international court ever to guarantee institutional recognition of the defense as an
independent organ of a court is the STL. The STL is the first responder to the persistent
demands by counsel in international courts and tribunals for institutional recognition. Permit
me therefore, on behalf of the ICCBA to congratulate the STL and the Defense at the STL for
assuming this pioneering rule with dignity and professionalism. History will record that
through this court, and the distinguished lawyers practicing before it, an enduring solution
worthy of emulation was found for the healing of the gapping but often ignored wound of
shame that threatened and still threatens the noble aspirations of universal justice. This
conference in the considered opinion of the ICCBA, is an opportunity for all to celebrate this
unique historic achievement and its pacesetters, the defense at the STL.
Many Defense Counsel at the STL are members of the ICCBA. Many of them were elected
into the Executive Committee and the respective committees of the ICCBA. The ICCBA has
benefitted and is benefiting from the very inspiring experience of professional counsels
operating within this pioneering institutional framework.
The ICCBA is thankful to the ICC Assembly of State Parties for recognizing at long last, the
distinctive significance of counsel and supporting staff in the arduous task of realizing the
universal goals of the Rome Statute in a world in conflict with its very soul. Nevertheless, we
strongly hope that the Assembly of State Parties of the ICC will follow the lead of the UN
Security Council and amend the Rome Statute to grant the defense at the ICC institutional
recognition. It is our considered opinion that without institutional recognition in its founding
statute, the Rome Statute is incomplete and fundamentally flawed. This year is the 20th
anniversary since the adoption of the Rome Statute and it is a unique occasion for the ICCBA
to strongly reaffirm our unwavering support for the universal values of international justice
that reflect upon the present and the future. The ICCBA in total transparency is committed to
fight to strengthen the rights of the accused and the defence at the ICC and to ensure that fair
There can be no gainsaying that without defence, there would be no international criminal
justice. We all play a vital role in proceedings before the courts, though this pivotal role is
sometimes forgotten by the wider community. Fair trials can only be possible through the
acceptance and respect for the Defence as an equal party in the proceedings. This is
paramount to ensure that the work done in the international courts can be accepted and
Defence Counsel and their staff appearing before the international courts are, indisputably,
vigorous advocates for their clients and are ethically required to be so. The committed
engagement and considerable efforts of defence counsel at the international courts is crucial
to the functioning and the credibility of the courts. We defence counsel do not have an easy
task. Working at these courts presents novel and unique challenges which are rarely
encountered in domestic proceedings.
It is for these reasons that these annual international meetings of the defence are incredibly
important; so that defence counsel and staff from different international courts can come
together and share their experiences and work on improving practices, and ultimately
ensuring that the rights of their clients are respected in proceedings.
On behalf of the ICCBA, I hereby thank the organizers for holding of this meeting. I wish all
gathered here today a very successful and fruitful 6
th International Meeting of the Defence.
Thank you very much.
Categories: Conference Papers