International Practice

Public International Law

Public international law governs States and intergovernmental organisations, and their relations between themselves and with organisations and individuals. The primary sources of public international law are international treaties, customary law, and general legal principles. The United Nations Charter established the International Court of Justice in 1945 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. It may consider legal disputes between States (States Members of the United Nations and other States which have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court) and requests for advisory opinions referred to it by United Nations organs and specialised agencies.

 

International Humanitarian Law

International humanitarian law governs the conduct of armed conflicts. It defines the responsibilities of belligerent states and organisations, neutral nations, and individuals engaged in warfare, both in relation to each other and protected persons. The laws of war have long been considered a matter of customary international law, but the Geneva Conventions of 1949 provide their modern codification. Modern international humanitarian law now includes the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, treaties outlawing specific weapons, and the involvement of children in armed conflict.

 

International Criminal Law

International criminal law is a branch of public international law that confers criminal liability upon individuals rather than regulating the relationship between States. It is derived from, and draws upon, the principles, developments and legal constructs of domestic criminal law, international humanitarian law and human rights law. International criminal law has developed significantly since the early prosecutions at Nuremberg and Tokyo in the aftermath of the Second World War. It gained momentum with the inception of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the early 1990s. This was followed closely by the creation of other international and internationalised courts and tribunals, including, inter alia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court, the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the War Crimes Section in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

This field of law prohibits and seeks to punish what the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole”.  The International Criminal Court came into being on 1 July 2002 to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of international humanitarian law. The Court’s jurisdiction has now extended to cover the use of certain weapons in non-international armed conflicts, and is expected to be extended at some point from 2017 to include crimes of aggression. The Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed since 1 July 2012 on the territory of a State that is party to the Rome Statute, has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court, or has been referred by the UN Security Council. It has further jurisdiction over nationals of States Party, regardless of the location of the crime.

International criminal law cases are often extremely complex, both legally and factually, and trials can take several years. The breadth of expertise at 9 Bedford Row International allows us to tailor teams to the specific needs of our clients or demands of the case. Our team is adept at using tribunal-specific technology necessary for the management and effective analysis of enormous volumes of documentary evidence. They are experienced in conducting sensitive on-the-ground investigations under often challenging and hostile local conditions.

Counsel at 9 Bedford Row International remain at the forefront of these rapidly developing areas of law. They have practised and/or advised at the following international courts and tribunals: the International Court of Justice; the International Criminal Court; the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; the Special Court for Sierra Leone; the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; the Special Tribunal For Lebanon; the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal; the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber; European Court of Human Rights and foreign courts of various jurisdictions.

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