Yesterday, the second in a series of four ICTY Legacy Lectures was held at Leiden University’s Hague campus. The lecture, entitled “The Story of Defence Counsel practising before the ICTY: Experiences from the Frontlines Defending Justice”, provided a unique opportunity to hear a “behind the scenes” perspective from representatives of the Association of Defence Counsel practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (ADC-ICT) and to learn about their individual experiences as ICTY Defence Counsel.
Professor Carsten Stahn, Programme Director of the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, provided some introductory remarks on the challenges faced by Defence Councel practicing before the ICTY, followed by opening remarks from ADC-ICT Vice President and Defence Counsel Marie O'Leary who also moderated the event. Ms O'Leary, reflecting on the time when the ADC-ICT was created, explained that Defence Councel “had to band together at the ICTY and build a network of support to deal with the complexities presented in the trials at the Tribunal”.
The panel was composed of four Defence Counsel who have represented accused before the ICTY: Mr Dragan Ivetić, ADC-ICT Vice President; Mr Christopher Gosnell, ADC-ICT Vice President; former ADC-ICT President Ms Colleen Rohan; and former ADC-ICT President Mr Gregor Guy-Smith. The first panellist, Ms Rohan, addressed the establishment and role of the Association of Defence Counsel, stating: “The ADC is a unique and pioneering organisation that has been successful in increasing the role of the Defence at the ICTY. Before, Defence was chaotic and the creation of the ADC brought organisation to the defence function.” Next, Mr Gosnell discussed the process of working with an accused person to present his or her case in court, stressing that that “the client is a participant in the proceedings and not merely an observer”. Focussing on the ICTY’s pioneering role in the field of international criminal law in terms of rights of the accused and fair trials, the third speaker, Mr Guy-Smith, stated that the “defence function has gained more respect before the ICTY than in any other international court or tribunal”. Finally, Mr Ivetić spoke about the ICTY defence legacy in the region of the former Yugoslavia, noting that local Defence Counsel have been continuously adopting the lessons learned at the ICTY. The participants also spoke about the practical aspects of defending clients before the ICTY, including defence strategy and how to build a defence case.
The ICTY Legacy Lectures are organised in cooperation with the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, with each lecture telling the story of a different organ of the Tribunal and the Defence. The lectures form part of the ongoing ICTY Legacy Dialogues series of legacy and closing events. The next lecture will be held on 2 November 2017 and feature representatives of the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor speaking on “The Story of the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor: Starting from Scratch - What We've Learned from 20 Years of OTP Investigations and Prosecutions”.