The ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference: The Defence perspective on what really happened at the ICTY

logo ADC 2004.jpg-for-web-normalThe Association of Defence Counsel Practicing Before the ICTY (“ADC”), established under Dutch law, came into existence on 20 September 2002 when it held its first General Assembly.  With the blessings of the ICTY Judges at their July 2002 plenary meeting, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence were amended to require counsel’s membership in the ADC.  Essentially, the ADC has been the Bar for some 350 plus counsel at the ICTY.  While not always appreciated for its true worth, the ADC has lived up to much of the expectations by providing a unified voice championing the causes of Defence Counsel and of their client’s fair trial rights.

Before the ADC, counsel had no say in the amendment of rules, no say in the setting of policies and practice directives that affected counsel, and no say in the remuneration schemes adopted by the Registry.  Counsel had to go through extra security, required escort to use the library and did not even have access to the canteen where prosecution and chambers’ staff mingled.  That all changed with the establishment of ADC.

For the past 10 years, the ADC has held its General Assembly in the Fall, recapping its accomplishments and shortcomings over the year, planning ahead, holding elections, and conducting training.  This year is different.  With the ICTY fading into the sunset as the Mechanisms for International Criminal Tribunals (“MICT”), come into play, the ADC is holding a Legacy Conference in conjunction  with its General Assembly.  Frustrated by the lack of appreciation or inclusion of the Defence in legacy activities staged by the ICTY, the ADC decided that the Defence Counsel needed to tell their story, give their perspective, and declare their achievements, disappointments and vision.

And so, on 29 November 2013, the ADC will hold its legacy conference in The Hague, organized with the support of the Law Faculty of the Erasmus University Rotterdam.  The ADC will hold its General Assembly the following day, with a training session on MICT.  Yours truly will be leading the training with fellow ADC member Dan Saxon, with presentations from the Registry, followed by no doubt a robust Q&A.

The legacy conference should prove to be an exciting event.  With the President of ICTY and  MICT, Judge Theodor Meron, giving the keynote speech, the conference is divided into four segments or themes near and dear to the Defence: Rights of the Accused; Transparent Justice: the Defence Experience; Role of ADC-ICTY; and ICTY Legacy.

Always important to get the perspective of the Bench, and more important for the Bench to get the perspective of the Defence, three highly experienced and formidable ICTY judges are slated to speak and participate on panel discussions: The Right Honorable Lord Iain Bonomy from Scotland, Judge Bakone Justice Moloto of South Africa, and Judge Howard Morrison from the UK, also a former Defence Counsel at the ICTR and ICTY.  The topics will range from equality of arms, to right of confrontation, to ethics and the media (a real hot topic considering recent efforts to muzzle Defence Counsel and even co-opt them into defending the integrity of the institution), to the importance of defence functions, to future challenges, and more.

Considering the level and depth of experience of the speakers, the panel discussions should be lively and informative.  Knowing this roster of speakers, the discourse should be high level, though I suspect there will be a healthy dose of pointed criticism, fostering some much needed self-reflection by all.

I have the privilege of moderating Panel I: Rights of the Accused.  This Panel includes: Equality of Arms, presented by Mira Tapuškovic; Right of Confrontation at Trial, presented by Lord Bonomy; and Right to Appeal, presented by Christopher Gosnell.  I will also be standing in for Suzana Tomanovic on Panel II: Transparent Justice: The Defence Experience, to deliver her presentation on Witness Protection Measures.I_ADCADC-ICTYWebsitekaravas_Prlic_Closing

Having participated in the early discussions on this legacy conference, the aim was never to have an us against them harangue.  Over the years, the ADC has been sorely disappointed and frustrated on a number of fronts.  Expected.  Its views have, however, been noted through positions papers, amicus briefs, letters, press releases and countless meetings and discussions.  So, in deciding to hold this legacy conference, the ADC’s goal was to inform and exchange ideas and perceptions formed over the past 11 years. To take stock of what happened, what role the Defence played, what contributions the ADC made, and what lessons were – or should be – learned.  An archiving, if you will, of the Defence perspective on what its and the ADC’s legacy is really all about.

The legacy conference will be recoded, with text to follow.  And, for those who cannot wait, you can follow the action on Twitter @ADCICTYLegacy / #ADCLegacyConf

About Author


Author: Michael G. Karnavas

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.

2 thoughts on “The ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference: The Defence perspective on what really happened at the ICTY”

  1. I give my support to the ADC.
    Although a registered Advocate of the ICC I have no experience of the ICTY. However, an organisation of defence advocates should exist for ICC trials.
    How does the “Legacy” from ICYT have a bearing on ICC work?
    I look forward to seeing the result of your symposium.
    best wishes
    Paul Purnell

    1. Thank you for your comment. I plan to address the relevance of the ADC-ICTY experience to the ICC and List Counsel in my next post. mgk

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