Side Event: “An Introduction to the Bar Association: The New Voice for the Legal Profession”

Overview by Kassahun Molla, Research Associate PILPG-NL


  1. Paul Wilke, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (moderator)

  2. Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez, Ambassador for Costa Rica and Vice President of the ASP

  3. Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC

  4. Judge Fernandez de Gurmendi, President of the ICC

  5. James Stewart, Deputy Prosecutor ICC

  6. Herman von Hebel, Registrar of the ICC

  7. David Hooper, President of the ICCBA


  • All speakers expressed delight with the inauguration of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA).

  • ICCBA has both a defense and a victim’s counsel.

  • ICCBA’s structure was one of the points of the presentation.

The side event was opened by the moderator who introduced the key speakers. ICC’s President, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi expressed her delight with the inauguration of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA). Further, she pointed out that the ICCBA is an independent organ having a special synergy with the court and emphasized that the court will continue to support the work of ICCBA. Moreover, she emphasized the instrumentality of ICCBA in terms of engaging with states and victims. This was followed by the speech made by chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The prosecutor welcomed the inauguration of the ICCBA. She underscored that the operationalization of ICCBA is another important means of, among other things, ensuring effective and quality representation, upholding a higher standard of legal profession and ethics. More importantly, the prosecutor emphasized that the creation of ICCBA will advance the values of the Rome Statute. The Vice President of the ASP, Ambassador Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínezed assessed that the creation of ICCBA is a welcoming development and expressed ASP’s support to the ICCBA. ICC’s Registrar, Herman von Hebel also pointed that ICCBA’s operationalization will strengthen the overall the Rome statute system.

The next activity was a presentation made by the president of the ICCBA Counsel David Hooper QC, regarding the reasons why ICCBA was established and the approaches at national and international levels. The council’s presentation highlighted the way bar associations developed in different states and indicated the situations in this respect at different international criminal tribunals. Bar Associations, he pointed, represent members’ interest, provide professional training, and provide a platform for members to convene.

Counsel David pointed to the uniqueness of the ICC in terms of victims’ role at the Court and indicated that the ICCBA has reflected this uniqueness in its formulation. Accordingly, ICCBA has both a defense and a victim’s counsel. On his remark, he reminded the conveners that the constitution of ICCBA was adopted on 1 July 2016 and it envisages three modes of membership, having their specific conditions for membership. Namely, Full, Associate, and Affiliate memberships. However, he emphasized that membership to the ICCBA is not a requirement in order to be able to practice before the ICC. It was also indicated that ICCBA is not concerned with disciplinary processes.

ICCB’s structure was one of the points of the presentation. The ICCBA has different organs. The Executive Council is composed of 15 members and is responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the ICCBA. This is supported by eight various committees on a range of issues. The Committees are Defence Committee, Counsel Support Staff Committee, Legal Advisory Committee, Training Committee, Victims Committee, Professional Standards Advisory Committee, Membership Committee, and Amicus Committee. The side event was concluded by general remarks by individuals running some of the committees.