Gillian Higgins

Called 1997



Gillian Higgins has developed an international criminal law practice that has involved cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the trial of a former head of State, at the International Criminal Court and the UN ad-hoc International Tribunals. She is regarded as one of the leading lawyers in her field of expertise and her courtroom advocacy is recognized as being of the highest class. Her experience enables her to deal with all aspects of an international case. She is also an accredited civil and commercial mediator with a particular interest in applying her skills in pre and post conflict situations and in the context of sensitive community and interest-based mediations.

Gillian undertakes international cases, advisory work, consultancy and training services for governments, international organisations and private clients. Her practice enables her to lecture authoritatively on fair trial rights and provide consultancy services to law schools, NGOs and other institutions, which have included the Kurdish Human Rights Project, the State Court of BiH in Sarajevo and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

Leading_individual_2017Gillian is a founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau, a group of highly qualified lawyers with unrivalled expertise in international criminal law, international humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law. The Bureau also provides advice, consultancy and training services to States, international organisations, international courts and private clients.  The Bureau provides courses and lectures in all aspects of international criminal law, courtroom advocacy and case strategy to Bar Associations, State bodies, private organisations, universities and law schools around the world.

GHIn 2011, Gillian founded the ARC Project in relation to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. State Parties, African Intergovernmental Organisations, NGOs with Observer Status before the African Commission, and most importantly, individuals who have suffered violations of their rights under the African Charter can now instruct ARC to take cases on their behalf.  ARC also aims to provide practical training to lawyers to enable them to take cases before the Court.Gillian is the editor and regular contributor of the highly acclaimed International Criminal Law Bureau blog, nominated in 2011 by Lexis Nexis as Blog of the Year. She is also a reviewer for Oxford University Press of new publications of books on international and international criminal law.

To read Gillian’s profile on the Chambers & Partners website, click the following link:



Notable Cases

The Prosecutor v Uhuru Kenyatta, International Criminal Court, from 2011-2015 

International Criminal Court proceedings commenced in December 2010 against President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, and son of the first President of the nation, Jomo Kenyatta, alleging a leading role in the post-election violence of 2007-2008 in respect of which he was charged with crimes against humanity.

At the confirmation of charges hearing, the Defence challenged the Prosecution case theory comprehensively and called Uhuru Kenyatta to give evidence in his own defence. The Defence evidence and submissions to the Court clearly established the strong foundations of the Defence case. Although the Pre-Trial Judges confirmed the charges, it was subsequently established that the Defence contentions at the hearing had been correct. In December 2014, the charges were finally withdrawn by the Prosecution, having admitted there was an insufficiency of evidence upon which to proceed to trial.

To read a report on the failure of that case and the work of the 9 Bedford Row Defence team click here.

Sri Lanka 2014

Providing submissions to the OISL of the UNHCHR on behalf of 3 Sri Lankan NGO’s upon the 30 years conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) that resulted in the final defeat of the LTTE in 2009. Steven Kay QC led the team at 9BR that submitted detailed reports upon various aspects of the conflict supported by evidence. With documents originating from Sri Lanka, and extensive media reports from open sources, comprehensive and persuasive reports were compiled to challenge the extensive media campaign that had built up to prosecute Sri Lanka.

Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo 2012

Pro-bono project to challenge on behalf of the Virunga National Park in DRC a UK FTSE 200 company, prospecting for oil and gas in the famous UNESCO Heritage site and home to the last species of mountain gorillas. This matter involved consideration of international environmental law, the national laws of DRC and national laws governing the company involved. Steven Kay QC’s team at 9BR were determined to protect the local people and wildlife under threat from the commercial activities of the company.

The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak et al, ICTY, 2007-2011

Gillian Higgins was instructed as Defence Co-counsel for Ivan Cermak who was acquitted of all charges in 2011. This case has been described as the most important trial in the history of the State of Croatia, and concerned the prosecution of Gotovina, Cermak and Markac in respect of the military action that resulted in the liberation of the Croatian territories from the RSK. The essential evidence to be challenged in this case principally arose from UN witnesses who had their own view of matters on the ground, as opposed to the reality of Ivan Cermak’s position in fact. Detailed review of military regulations and orders was necessary to persuade the Tribunal of the actual and exact unfolding of events at the time, not apparent from the Prosecution case. Expert evidence from internationally respected witnesses upon the Croatian military and powers of the police underpinned the truth of the Defence case.

The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic, ICTY, 2002-2005

The trial of Slobodan Milosevic on 66 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide: From 2001, Gillian Higgins was instructed as a legal consultant to the Amici Curiae until her appointment as Amica Curiae from 27 June 2003 with Steven Kay QC from 9BRi. From September 2004, she was appointed Court Assigned Defence Counsel for Slobodan Milosevic, with Steven Kay QC. The trial was upon 3 joined indictments concerning the wars of the 1990s waged in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia by the Serbian forces and was the largest international criminal trial of its kind.

Osmanoğlu v Turkey, European Court of Human Rights

Judgment dated 24 January 2008:
This Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) assisted case concerned alleged breaches of Articles 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Applicant who was a Turkish national of Kurdish origin alleged that his son was taken into police custody and subsequently disappeared. Gillian Higgins was instructed as counsel by KHRP.

The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana et al, ICTR, 2000-2002

Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze were co-accused in a trial concerning the responsibility of the media for genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The case came to be known as ‘The Media Trial’. Ferdinand Nahimana was a professor of history and had acted as Director of ORINFOR (Rwandan Office of Information) between 1990 and 1992. All three individuals were charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity (persecution, extermination).

The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, ICTR, 1999-2000

This was the first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide. Gillian Higgins was engaged as a member of this Defence team, the first to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations.

Associated Work

  • Founding Member of the International Criminal Law Bureau
  • Director of the ARC Project
  • Editor of the International Criminal Law Bureau Blog
  • Editor of the ARC Project Blog
  • Legal Consultant for the Defence Support Section of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, March-April 2007
  • Member of a fact-finding mission for the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) and the European Parliament investigating the increase of suicides among Kurdish women in Turkey, January 2007
  • Legal Consultant to the Office of Defence Counsel (OKO) in Sarajevo, August – October 2006
  • Legal Advisor to the KHRP Trial Observation work for the KHRP: Observation of the HADEP trial, Ankara, Turkey, April 1998


Training and Lecturing

  • International Bar Association at The Belgrade International Law Conference
  • The German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwalt Verein)
  • The Dutch Bar Association (OSR Juridische Opleidingen)
  • Leiden University, The Hague Campus, Holland
  • Commonwealth Lawyers Association Indiana University, Faculty of Law, USA
  • The Association of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • The National University of Ireland, Human Rights Institute, Galway, Ireland
  • Graduate School of Law, Riga, Latvia
  • University of Salzburg, Faculty of Law
  • Exeter University, Faculty of Law
  • Bar of Sarajevo
  • OSCE, Macedonia
  • International Bar Association, Training Cambodian lawyers in aspects of international criminal law, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Northwestern University, Chicago



  • Higgins, G, and Shane, M, ‘The Intoxication Defence and Theories of Criminal Liability’, The Addiction Research Foundation (ADR), 1999
  • Higgins, G, ‘Life Beyond the Crown Court Grind’, The Times, 11 October 2005
  • Higgins, G, ‘The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial’, special edition, Crim. L. F., 2006
  • Higgins, G, ‘Fair and Expeditious Pre-Trial Proceedings: The Future of International Criminal Trials’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2007
  • Higgins, G, Oxford Companion to International Criminal Law, Entries on The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic and The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana, Oxford University Press’, 2009
  • Higgins, G, ‘The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial and the development of Rule 73bis before the ICTY’, Northwestern University Law Review, 2009
  • Higgins, G, ‘The Development of the Right to Self-Representation before the International Criminal Tribunals’, chapter in Judicial Creativity at the International Criminal Tribunals, edited by Shane Darcy and Joe Powderly, Oxford University Press, 2011
  • Higgins, G, ‘Examination-in-Chief and Cross-Examination’, chapter in Transferring War Crimes Cases From the ICTY, UNICRI, forthcoming 2011
  • Higgins, G, Book Review: ‘Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’ by Daniel H Joyner published by Oxford University Press, published at, 2012



  • Grays Inn
  • IBA
  • Founding Member of the International Criminal Law Bureau
  • Director of ARC (Advice, Representation and Cases)
  • List of Counsel at the International Criminal Court
  • Association of Defence Counsel (ADC) at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • Kurdish Human Rights Project, legal advisor
  • Trinity Hall Alumni, Cambridge University



  • List of Counsel at the International Criminal Court, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • List of Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, The Netherlands
  • Former Member of the Disciplinary Panel of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • Member of the Kurdish Human Rights Project Legal Team
  • Registered Pupil Supervisor, Bar Council



  • Inns of Court School of Law, Everard Ver Heyden Foundation Prize for Advocacy 1997
  • Inns of Court of Law, team member of the semi-finals of the European
  • Mooting Competition in Warsaw, 1997
  • Gray’s Inn Junior Scholarship, 1995-6
  • Spetses European Public Law Group 1995-6
  • Certificate of Excellence; University of Exeter Dean’s Commendation of Excellence 1994
  • University of Exeter Representative for the National Observer Mooting Competition 1994, and Mooting Champion 1994





  • French (fluent)
  • Swahili (beginner)
  • Members CV
  • 9BRi Lobbying Forum
  • Expertise
  • Events & Calendar