Sire Geoffrey Nice QC: "International Criminal
Tribunals: Experiments? Works in progress? Institutions that are here for good,
or maybe not?"
In the last twenty years several international courts have been
established to try crimes committed in armed conflicts. Public
expectation of what these courts may achieve is high; but are the courts living
up to that expectation? Is the public expectation realistic and part of a
liberal tradition; may it be seen as 'judicial romantic', according to courts
capabilities they can never have? Are the courts always bound to be
tainted by political influence that makes it probable they will ultimately fail?
What sense can be made of the permanent International Criminal Court -
the ICC - when Russia, China and the USA decline to accept its
jurisdiction for their own citizens but can, as permanent members of the
Security Council of the UN, refer individuals from other non-member states to
the ICC for trial? And would it matter if the ICC failed? Has
enough already been done to chart a way ahead that will allow the law a proper
role in the service of countries, or communities in countries, at war? In
any event, are war crimes trials the best partner of politics in the search for
peace? Are there times when it may be better to let history go in the
interests of a better safer future?
Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Gresham Professor of Law, has
practised as a barrister since 1971. He worked at the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – the ICTY – between 1998 and 2006
and led the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia.
Much of his work since has been connected to cases before the permanent
International Criminal Court – Sudan, Kenya, Libya – or pro
victims groups – Iran, Burma, North Korea – whose cases cannot get to any
international court. He works for several related NGO’s and lectures and
commentates in the media in various countries on international war crimes
issues. He has been a part-time judge since 1984 sitting at the Old
Bailey and has sat as judge in other jurisdictions, tribunals and
inquiries. Since 2009 he has been Vice-Chair of the Bar Standards Board,
the body that regulates barristers.
first five of his 2012-13 lectures asGresham Professor of Lawwill deal with issues arising from the
work of international criminal courts and tribunals. The sixth will
contrast the practice of law in international criminal courts where there is
little or no effective regulation of lawyers and judges with the present
working practices of the English Bar, on which he can reflect in light of his
long experience generally and his recent experience as a regulator.