By Janet Sankale
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan QC has appointed 17 special advisers.
A press release from the ICC’s Public Affairs Unit said Khan had, for the first time, created new posts of special advisers, including portfolios on the crime of aggression; the Darfur, Sudan, situation; gender persecution; genocide; international criminal law discourse; Islamic law; knowledge transfer; slavery crimes; and public international law.
He has also appointed special advisers without portfolio, another novelty at the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).
“I am delighted to welcome such an outstanding group of experts and I am grateful for their willingness to serve as my special advisers. I have no doubt that with their enormous experience and hugely impressive credentials, they will significantly contribute to the work of the office and the cause of international criminal justice. I very much look forward to working with and learning from them,” the Prosecutor was quoted as saying.
Special advisers are persons with outstanding professional credentials and expertise in their fields who advise the Prosecutor within their respective mandates and assist in training initiatives of the OTP. They work on a pro-bono basis.
The 17 appointments come from different regions in the world with cultural, linguistic, and gender diversity.
“These appointments form part of Prosecutor Khan’s vision, early in his mandate, to build on what has been accomplished to date and reinforce the office’s capabilities to effectively and efficiently discharge its mandate under the Statute, and to strengthen specialisation on a wide range of issues touching upon public international law, sexual violence in conflict, crimes against and affecting children, slavery crimes, amongst other priority areas identified by the Prosecutor,” the press release said.
The advisers with a portfolio are:
Payam Akhavan, special adviser on genocide, is a professor of international law and a senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto; and a member of the New York State Bar and the Law Society of Ontario, and a recipient of its 2021 Human Rights Award. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Payam-Akhavan-(IOP).pdf.
Véronique Aubert, special adviser on crimes against and affecting children, is a senior human rights expert with over 20 years of experience in fact-finding missions investigating gross violations against children in conflict settings and promoting governments and armed actors’ compliance with international law standards. She recently co-authored, with Oxford University, the report, Advancing Justice for Children (March 2021), that explores the barriers — and potential solutions — regarding accountability for crimes and violations against children in conflict. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Veronique-Aubert-(IOP).pdf.
Morten Bergsmo, special adviser on knowledge transfer, is a director of the Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP) and has been a legal adviser for the Commission of Experts for the former Yugoslavia, established pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 780 (1992) in 1993-94. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Morten-Bergsmo-(IOP).pdf.
Amal Clooney, special adviser on the Darfur, Sudan, situation, is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers specialising in international law and human rights. She recently served as the legal representative of victims on behalf of 126 survivors of crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan, in the case against former Janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman at the ICC. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Amal-Clooney.pdf.
Lisa Davis, special adviser on gender persecution, is an associate professor of law and co-director of the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic (formerly International Women’s Human Rights Clinic). Davis has written and reported extensively on international human rights and gender issues, including women’s rights and LGBTQI+ rights, with a focus on peacebuilding and security issues in conflict and disaster settings. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Lisa-Davis-(IOP).pdf.
Kevin Jon Heller, special adviser on international criminal law, is currently professor of international law and security at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Military Studies, as well as professor of law at the Australian National University. He also serves on the six-person Advisory Board of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and is an academic member of Doughty Street Chambers in London. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Kevin-Heller-(IOP).pdf.
Claus Kress, special adviser on the crime of aggression, is a professor of international law and criminal law. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Claus-Kreb-(IOP).pdf.
Vaughan Lowe, special adviser on public international law, is emeritus Chichele professor and emeritus fellow of All Souls College Oxford and is a practising barrister at Essex Court Chambers, in the field of international law. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Vaughan-Lowe-(IOP).pdf.
Tim McCormack, special adviser on war crimes, is a professor of international law at the University of Tasmania and a professorial fellow of the Melbourne Law School. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Tim-McCormack-(IOP).pdf.
Intisar A. Rabb, special adviser on Islamic law, is a professor of law and history at Harvard University and serves as the director of the programme in Islamic law at Harvard Law School. Most recently, she successfully represented former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne, who was wrongfully fired and lost her pension when she intervened to stop a fellow officer’s chokehold on an unarmed civilian, as part of a legal team that won her back pay and wages after 15 years. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Intisar-Rabb-(IOP).pdf.
Leila Nadya Sadat, special adviser on crimes against humanity, is the James Carr professor of international criminal law and longtime director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law. Sadat is the director of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Leila-Sadat-(IOP).pdf.
Kim Thuy Seelinger, special adviser on sexual violence in conflict, is an expert on sexual violence in the context of armed conflict and forced displacement. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Kim-Thuy-Seelinger-(IOP).pdf.
Patricia V. Sellers, special adviser on slavery crimes, is an international criminal lawyer and a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford, where she teaches international criminal law and human rights law. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Patricia-Sellers-(IOP).pdf.
Ali Soufan, special adviser on investigations, is a leading national security and counterterrorism expert and plays a significant advisory role in global intelligence issues. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Ali-Soufan-(IOP).pdf.
The three advisers without a portfolio are:
Adama Dieng, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, a position he held from July 2012 to July 2020. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Adama-Dieng-(IOP).pdf.
Mohamed Chande, who served as Chief Justice of Tanzania from December 2010 to January 28, 2017. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Mohamed-Chande-Othman-(IOP).pdf.
Judge Baroness Christine Van den Wyngaert, presently a judge in the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/otp/bios/Bio-Christine-Van-den-Wyngaert-(IOP).pdf.
The press release said Khan would nominate additional special advisers from the GRULAC (Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries) and Asia-Pacific areas.
It added that he would soon convene a meeting to plan and coordinate work between the respective mandates and portfolios of the new advisers.
The Assembly of States Parties, sitting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, elected Khan as Prosecutor of the ICC on February 12, 2021, to replace Fatou Bensouda, who had served in the position for nine years. Khan took office on June 16, 2021.