Michael G. Karnavas is an American trained lawyer.  He is licensed in Alaska and
Massachusetts and is qualified to appear before the various international tribunals, including the International
Criminal Court (
ICC). Residing and practicing primarily in The Hague, he is recognized as an expert in
international criminal defence, including, pre-trial, trial, and appellate advocacy.
Michael G. Karnavas
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL
DEFENCE LAWYER
Practice Areas

  • Litigation
  • Criminal Defence (USA)
  • International Criminal Defence
  • Public International Law
  • Trial and Appellant Consultant in Complex Litigation
  • Immigration and Extradition
  • International Development / Rule of Law
News and Events

In July 2020, the Oxford University Press published Codes of Conduct for Counsel in International Criminal Proceedings, by Michael G.
Karnavas, as part of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law. The volume provides a detailed overview of the codes of
conduct at international criminal tribunals and the challenges counsel face in meeting their ethical and professional obligations.

Michael G. Karnavas wrote a chapter entitled The Serendipitous Nature of the ICC Trial Proceedings Risks the ICC’s Credibility (pp.: 202–247),
in Justice Without Borders a collection of essays on international criminal law, European criminal law and international cooperation, honoring Judge
Wolfgang Schomburg on the occasion of his 70th birthday on 9 April 2018.

On 8 February 2018, Michael G. Karnavas was quoted on the international criminal law aspects of the Rohingya situation in the Massacre in
Myanmar A REUTERS SPECIAL REPORT.

On 14 December 2017, Hrvatski tjednik, a Croatian weekly newspaper, published an interview (Croatian, English) with Michael G. Karnavas on
the Prlić, et al case based on his post in memory of General Slobodan Prlajak

On 9 December 2017, Michael G. Karnavas delivered a presentation via Skype at the annual conference of the Association of Defence Counsel
practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (ADC-ICT). This year’s theme was International Crimes: Past, Present and Future
Perspectives. Participating on the panel focusing on the current developments relating to the core crimes at the international(ized) criminal courts
and tribunals, Mr. Karnavas discussed the meaning of “civilian” for the purpose of Crimes Against Humanity at the Extraordinary Chambers in the
Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). This issue emerged in light of the recent call for submissions and decision by International Co-Investigating Judge
Michael Bohlander, who is currently investigating Cases 003 and 004. The question posed by Judge Bohlander in his call for submissions, to which
eleven amici curiae along with the parties responded, was whether under customary international law between 1975 and 1979 (ECCC’s temporal
jurisdiction) an attack against a state’s own armed forces amounted to an attack against a civilian population for crimes against humanity. To view
the Summary of Michael G. Karnavas’s presentation click here. For an in-depth discussion of this issue, see his three-part blog post.

Michael G. Karnavas wrote The Position of the Defence and Adequate Facilities in International Criminal Law Review based on his presentation
at the Colloquium on International Criminal Justice and the Enforcement Deficit: In Search of Sui Generis Theories and Procedures, organized by
Professor André Klip (Maastricht University) and Professor Steven Freeland (University of Western Sydney) on 25–27 October 2017. In his article,
Mr. Karnavas addresses whether it is time to consider designing criminal proceedings other than what exist at the various international(ized)
criminal tribunals and courts to maximize quicker, less cumbersome, less expensive adjudications.

Michael G. Karnavas wrote a chapter entitled The Serendipitous Nature of the ICC Trial Proceedings Risks the ICC’s Credibility (pp.: 202–247),
in Justice Without Borders a collection of essays on international criminal law, European criminal law and international cooperation, honoring Judge
Wolfgang Schomburg on the occasion of his 70th birthday on 9 April 2018.  This chapter considers whether the ad hoc nature of ICC trial
proceedings risks undermining the ICC's credibility. The Rome Statute and the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence have sufficient constructive
ambiguity as to how trials should be conducted such that, depending on the serendipitous composition of the Trial Chamber, trials can be shaped in
a more ‘adversarial’ or more 'inquisitorial' fashion. This malleability, which may have been the result of a diplomatic compromise, has resulted in ad
hoc trial proceedings at the ICC; no two trials are: conducted in the same manner. Since the hallmarks of any good court are uniformity,
predictability, and reliability in its proceedings, does this feature, which is unique to the ICC, risk undermining the legitimacy of the ICC's
judgments and, inexorably, the ICC itself?

On 8 February 2018, Michael G. Karnavas was quoted on the international criminal law aspects of the Rohingya situation in the Massacre in
Myanmar A REUTERS SPECIAL REPORT.

On 14 December 2017, Hrvatski tjednik, a Croatian weekly newspaper, published an interview (Croatian, English) with Michael G. Karnavas on
the Prlić, et al case based on his post in memory of General Slobodan Prlajak.

On 9 December 2017, Michael G. Karnavas delivered a presentation via Skype at the annual conference of the Association of Defence Counsel
practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (ADC-ICT). This year’s theme was International Crimes: Past, Present and Future
Perspectives. Participating on the panel focusing on the current developments relating to the core crimes at the international(ized) criminal courts
and tribunals, Michael G. Karnavas discussed the meaning of “civilian” for the purpose of Crimes Against Humanity at the Extraordinary Chambers
in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). This issue emerged in light of the recent call for submissions and decision by International Co-Investigating
Judge Michael Bohlander, who is currently investigating Cases 003 and 004. The question posed by Judge Bohlander in his call for submissions, to
which eleven amici curiae along with the parties responded, was whether under customary international law between 1975 and 1979 (ECCC’s
temporal jurisdiction) an attack against a state’s own armed forces amounted to an attack against a civilian population for crimes against humanity.
To view the Summary of Michael G. Karnavas’s presentation click here. For an in-depth discussion of this issue, see Michael G. Karnavas’s three-
part blog post series here, here, and here.

On 25-27 October 2017, Michael G. Karnavas participated in the Academy Colloquium International Criminal Justice and the Enforcement Deficit:
In Search of Sui Generis Theories and Procedure at The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) organized by Professor André
Klip (Maastricht University) and Professor Steven Freeland (University of Western Sydney). The discussion was divided into four blocks
addressing: The Character of the (Hybrid) International Criminal Tribunal (Block 1); Substantive Criminal Law Issues (Block 2); Procedural
Challenges (Block 3); and Evading Pavlov, is international criminal justice the only way? (Block 4) Click here for the Colloquium Agenda and here
for a blog post on Michael G. Karnavas’s presentation on the Position of the Defence and Adequate Facilities.

On 24 October 2017, Michael G. Karnavas participated in Evidence Commentary Coordination and Authors’ Meeting at the premises of the
German Embassy in The Hague. The project’s aim is to publish a commentary on the law of evidence at the international criminal courts and
tribunals, which would serve as a comprehensive guide for practitioners and scholars alike on the growing jurisprudence on evidence. Michael G.
Karnavas will focus and analyze the relevant law on the topic of the testimony of the accused.

On 6 October 2017, Michael G. Karnavas participated in an international conference and the roundtable discussion titled “Doubt in favour of the
defendant, guilty beyond reasonable doubt” dedicated to the launch and promotion of a comparative study publication of the same name (available
in English here). Mr. Karnavas’s presentation provided a historical analysis of the reasonable doubt standard and the principle of in dubio pro reo,
the jurisprudence and jury instructions of various common law jurisdictions, the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, and some
aspects of the burden of proof in common law jurisdictions. The publication is part of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE) Mission in Skopje’s efforts to support and contextualize adversarial modalities introduced to the new Macedonian criminal procedure – a
hybrid system established as part of Macedonia’s transitional justice efforts in legal reform. The publication consists of contributions from seven
authors, including Mr. Karnavas, who submitted an 85-page research paper titled “Theoretical and Practical Aspects of the Standard of Proof
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt & The Principle of In Dubio Pro Reo in Common Law Jurisdictions.” Click here for the Agenda of the conference and
here for a Synopsis of Mr. Karnavas’s presentation.

On 23 August 2017, Michael G. Karnavas provided an intensive training session on direct examination for the Bosco Ntaganda Defence team at
the ICC. The training session focused on: preparation for direct examination; techniques and necessary skills; using documents; anticipating and
responding to objections; re-direct examination; best practice on examining witnesses; and practical advice on how to avoid or deal with trouble
situations during examination of witnesses.

On 5 July 2017, Michael G. Karnavas delivered a 1,5 hour presentation on the Rights of the Accused at the Summer School International Criminal
Law of the Leiden University. The summer school, organized annually, enables students and professionals from all over the world to engage in
discussions on the prospects and challenges of international criminal law. The program and the course information are available here and here.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia published a report by Michael G. Karnavas titled “Proposals
for Building the Training Capacity of the Academy of the Bar Association of Serbia: A Strategic Plan for Continuous Legal Education for the
Coming 2-3 Years”. The Report analyzes and assesses the training needs of Serbian lawyers and the training capacities of the Attorney’s Academy
of the Bar Association of Serbia.  Based on the assessment, the Report provides specific proposals for reform and improvement of the institutional
and regulatory framework of the Academy, and recommends a detailed program for the organization of the training activities and a strategic
Continuous Legal Education plan for 2-3 years.

On 24 February 2017, the Edward Elgar Publishing published a chapter co-authored by Kate Gibson, John RWD Jones QC, Michael G. Karnavas
and Melinda Taylor, titled “Regulation of the International Bar: The Particular Challenges for Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Courts
and Tribunals” in Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals (William A. Schabas and Shannonbrooke Murphy eds., 2017). This
chapter examines and evaluates the different structures (independent, internal and external) protecting and regulating the defence profession at the
various international and mixed criminal courts and tribunals, and identifies defects and lacunae in the current infrastructure.


Click here for Archive of earlier News and Events
Testimonial

[A]s a pro bono member within a Defence team at the International Criminal Court (ICC), I found the multiple day training
course on cross-examination techniques given by Michael Karnavas to be very useful. This training is highly recommended to
any lawyer who plans on examining witnesses in court. With his wealth of knowledge and experience and his no-nonsense
approach, Michael Karnavas pushes his trainees to constantly improve, think on their feet and most importantly, always be
prepared ahead of time.

                  -- Erik Cookson-Montin, May 2016
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