11 September 2003


NEW YORK, 10 September (UN Headquarters) -- The second session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, taking place from 8 to 12 September in New York, this morning considered the establishment of an International Criminal Bar.

The Court’s Registrar, Bruno Cathala, explaining his responsibilities under Rule 20 of Rules of Procedure and Evidence, said the defence was the third pillar of the Court, and it was up to the Registrar to organize the work of the defence team.  Apart from working on practical and logistical aspects, such as working conditions for defence lawyers, he had also addressed the more substantive matters of drafting a Professional Code of Conduct, criteria and procedures for legal assistance and Court assignments.

He said a final draft of the Code of Conduct, drawn up in consultation with experts and international organizations and bar associations, would be submitted to the Court’s Judges and subsequently to the next Assembly.  The roster of lawyers would have to reflect geographical representation and represent different areas of expertise.  In that regard, he would create an advisory body to assist him in carrying out his mission.

During the ensuing question and answer session, in which representatives of Spain, Netherlands, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Sierra Leone, Canada, South Africa and Belgium participated, delegates stressed that, both in the Court’s list of lawyers and in the advisory body envisaged by the Registrar, all legal systems and cultures of the different continents should be represented.

As the first cases before the Court were likely to come from Africa, it was noted that that continent alone had three different legal systems.  Not only the accused had a right to legal representation, they emphasized, but also victims or others who might appear before the Court.  That matter should be properly resolved.

Answering delegates’ questions, the Registrar said he intended to seek advice from international organizations and counsel associations.  In that regard, he would like to have a body around him composed of individuals from different geographical areas and various traditions of law.  He had already had discussions with African and Asian lawyers, among others.  The envisaged advisory body would serve as a consultation tool.


He said the list of counsellors had not been determined yet, as he was in the process of consultations.  He was committed to ensuring that lawyers would represent different legal systems.  It was also important that the accused could choose his/her defence counsel, as was provided for in Article 22 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.  He further pointed out that counsellor training was part of his budgetary request.

The Assembly will meet again Thursday, 11 September, at 10 a.m.

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