Colleen Rohan


Colleen_Rohan1Colleen Rohan is an expert in criminal defence litigation in both domestic and international courts. She has represented members of the military and private clients in complex cases involving charges of genocide, murder, terrorism, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In her domestic practice she specialized in death penalty cases, gang-related cases, international extradition and post-conviction remedies.

She has provided advice, consultancy and training to legal teams, governments, international organizations, and NGOs. She has advised defence counsel and represented international civil servants charged with misconduct, including at the United Nations, the Extraordinary Criminal Court for Cambodia and most recently at the International Criminal Court. She has lectured extensively on international criminal law and ethics at universities in the United States and Europe and has provided training to lawyers and law students from around the world.

Ms. Rohan is also a highly respected appellate specialist and legal writer, well- known for the excellence of her written and oral advocacy, strategic originality and creative legal analysis. She was the editor of the first practice-oriented manual on defending international criminal cases published for an international court (the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) and has authored numerous articles in the fields of international criminal law and ethics. She was recently awarded a Presidential Commendation by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in the United States for the outstanding quality of her legal work in the international courts.

Admissions to Practice


  • Rule 45 List, Defence Counsel for International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
  • Rule 22 List, Defence Counsel for the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • Rule 45 List, Defence Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

List of Defence Counsel for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, (STL)


  • United States Supreme Court
  • Qualified before California State Supreme Court and
  • United States Federal District Court for appointment in death penalty cases
  • All courts of the State of California, U.S.A.
  • United States Federal District Court, Northern District of California
  • United States Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Federal District Court, Southern District of California

Notable cases

  • Prosecutor v Haradinaj (ICTY)—Counsel for Idriz Balaj; acquitted on all 37 counts charged at original trial in 2008; acquitted on all counts after prosecution appeal and retrial (2010).
  • Prosecutor v Milorad Trbic (ICTY)—Lead Counsel in multi-accused case charging genocide in Srebrenica during Balkans War. Client severed from case (2006).
  • Prosecutor v Radovan Karadzic (ICTY)—Legal Consultant for Standby Counsel Team (2009 to present).
  • Prosecutor v Ruto, et al (Kenya 1 case) (ICC)—Counsel for defence witnesses in first confirmation hearing in ICC Kenya case (2011)
  • Prosecutor v Abdallah Banda Abadaer Nourian and Saleh Mohanned Jerbo Jamus, (Darfur case)—Counsel on amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Association of Defence Counsel Practicing Before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) in case involving allegations of murders of UN personnel
  • Case No 004 (ECCC)—Expert Consultant on ethical issues raised during pre-trial investigation; Khymer Rouge genocide case (2013)
  • Morin v Secretary General of the United Nations (United Nations Dispute Tribunal)—Counsel for U.N. employee (Department of Safety and Security) regarding allegations of misconduct arising from terrorist bombing of U.N. House in Algiers. Misconduct charges dismissed. (2011)
  • Assaf v ICC (ICC)—Counsel for ICC employee seeking compensation and damages arising from detention in Libya (2012 to present)
  • In the Matter of Mr. Toma Fila, ICTY Disciplinary Board Case—ADC-ICTY Representative to Appellate Board; wrote dissenting opinion defending free speech rights of defence counsel at the international courts
  • Regina v William Joseph Quinn—Counsel in international extradition of Provisional Irish Republican Army member accused of terrorist bombings and murder; all bombing allegations dismissed (1983)
  • People v Oscar Gates—Counsel serving as “next friend” liaison between court, client and defence counsel in death penalty case involving first impression issue of competency of client in federal habeas corpus proceeding; resulted in suspension of death penalty sentence (1986)
  • People v Robert Nawi—Appellate counsel in case involving numerous substantive and procedural challenges to reliability of DNA evidence, quality of DNA testing laboratories and DNA testing techniques (1997)


Presidential Commendation for outstanding service, in the practice of international law, to the goals and objectives of liberty: awarded by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, USA, conferred July 2013, San Francisco.


  • Lecturer: “Ethical Dilemmas in the Practice of International Criminal Law’, ADC-ICTY Symposium, 4 October 2013; ICTY, The Hague
  • Speaker: “ The role of defence counsel in international criminal proceedings,” presented to National Bar Association of the United States, 3 June 2013, ICTY, The Hague
  • Speaker: “Ethical Obligations of Defence Lawyers in International Criminal Proceedings” European Society of International Law Conference on “International Law as a Profession” sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, 23-25 May 2013, Amsterdam
  • Speaker: “Comparisons between the Civil and Common Law Role of Defence Counsel”, presented to Lebanese lawyers, judges and professors, 6 May 2013, ICTY, The Hague
  • Lecturer: “Psychological and Sociological Dimensions of Criminal Defence Practice,” Maastricht University, 28 March 2013, Netherlands
  • Lecturer: “Practice of Law at the ICTY: Practical Considerations” for Cambridge University group, 18 March 2013, ICTY, The Hague
  • Lecturer: “The Defence Function at the ICTY”, for Irish Centre for Human Rights group, ICTY, 20 February 2013, The Hague
  • Member of Panel, “The Duty to Protect,” Chatham House, “Revolution in the Air” Conference, London, England , November 2012
  • Speaker: “Practical Issues for the Defence in Representation of Accused in International Courts”, for Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia group, 25 May 2012, ICTY, The Hague
  • Guest lecturer: “Defence of International War Crimes Cases”, University of LeidenInternational Criminal Law Masters Course, Leiden University in The Hague, 24 April 2012, The Hague
  • Speaker: “Role of Defence Counsel in Mixed Civil/Common Law System at the ICTY and other International Courts”; Yale University Law School group, 7 March 2012, ICTY, The Hague
  • Speaker: “Issues Confronting the Defence in Practice in International Criminal Law”, presented to members of Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations, 23 January 2012, ICTY, The Hague
  • Speaker: “Ethics in International Criminal Practice” International Defence Association Lecture Series for ICTY Defence Team Staff, 31 January 2012, ICTY, The Hague
  • Speaker: “Defence Function at the ICTY”, presented to journalists from Bosnia-Herzogovina (members of BIRN), 14 December 2011, ICTY, The Hague
  • Lecturer: “The Practice of International Criminal Law: Working in the Courts Day to Day”, Leiden University International Criminal Law Program, 13 December 2011, The Hague
  • Speaker: International Criminal Law Clinical Program, Utrecht University, “Ethical Dilemmas in International Criminal Law Practice”, 6 December 2011, 29 January 2013, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Speaker and Member of Panel: “The Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” 9 Bedford Row International Criminal Law Conference, BPP Law School, 19 November 2011, London, England
  • Speaker: “The Burden of Proof in International Criminal Trials”, Conference sponsored by Bar Association of Kosovo, 18-20 October 2011, Pristina, Kosovo
  • Speaker: “Equality of Arms Issues at the ICTY”, presentation for Masters Students from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, 9 May 2011, The Hague
  • Speaker and Member of Panel: “Cross-Examination Techniques in International Criminal Trials”, Conference on International Criminal Law, sponsored by OKO, 24-26 March 2011, Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • Lecturer: “Equality of Arms and its Impact on Cross-Examination”, for defence team staff, ICTY, 13 March 2011, The Hague.
  • Panel member and speaker: “On the Front Line of Accountability—War Reporting and Related Contemporary Issues in International Humanitarian and Criminal Law; “Trial by Soundbite: Eroding the Presumption of Innocence,” T.M. Asser Institute, 21 January 2011, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Lecturer: “The Defence Function at the ICTY”, annual seminar for legal assistant and interns from the Office of the Prosecutor and Trial and Appellate Chamber, 10 November 2010, September 2011, The Hague
  • Lecturer: “Building a Defence Case,” University of Leiden, Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, (annual program) June 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Lecturer: Training seminar for Special Tribunal for Lebanon, for members of Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations, 3-5 March 2010, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Lecturer: “Ethical Obligations of Prosecution and Defence Counsel in International Criminal Trials”, T.M. Asser Institute, 30 September 2009, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Participant: Regional Conference on Promoting the Legacy of InternationalTribunals, sponsored by the Government of Italy, the ICTY and UNICRI, 15-16 June 2009, Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • Lecturer: “Substantive Law of War Crimes”, for American University, Washington, D.C. Summer Law Program, 5 June 2009, T. M. Asser Institute, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Lecturer and Moot Court Judge: University of Turin Masters in Crime and Justice LL.M Program, Moot Court Competition, sponsored by UNICRI and the University of Turin, 19-21 May 2009, Turin, Italy
  • Panel member: Regional Workshop on Best Practices and Lessons Learned in Knowledge Transfer Methodology on Processing War Crimes, sponsored by O.S.C.E. Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and ODIHR, 13-15 May 2009,Sarajevo, Bosnia.
  • Coordinator and trainer: O.S.C.E. Mission to Serbia, Seminar for Regional Lawyers on Skills and Strategies for the Defence in Domestic War Crimes Courts in Command Responsibility Cases, 8-9 May 2009, Palic, Serbia.
  • Lecture: “Defence Function at the ICTY,” presented to Croatian LL.M Students, European Law Students Association (ELSA), at the ICTY, 5 May 2009
  • Speaker and member of panel: “Forensic Science and Miscarriages of Justice,” Human Rights and Forensic Science Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway; sponsored by the Irish Centre For Human Rights and the University of Dundee, 24-25 April 2009, Galway, Ireland
  • Speaker and member of panel: Conference on “The Diversification and Fragmentation of International Criminal Law in a Global Society,” University of Leiden, Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, 21 March 2009, The Hague
  • Sponsor and coordinator; ICTY, Mock Trial Competition for ICTY legal assistants and interns, April 2009, June-July 2010, June, 2013, ICTY, The Hague. This competition is co-sponsored by the International Criminal Law Bureau
  • Trainer: ICTY, Seminar for international legal interns at the ICTY on cross examination in international war crimes trials, 8 December 2008
  • Lecturer: The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Hague, Netherlands,for students in international criminal law, “The Practice of International Criminal Law,” 3-4 December 2008
  • Speaker and Member of Panel: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (O.S.C.E.); Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (O.D.I.H.R.); United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (U.N.I.C.R.I.), and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY); “Expert Workshop on Supporting the Transition Process,” 20-21 October 2008, Asser Institute, The Hague
  • Trainer: United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (U.N.I.C.R.I.), “Plea Bargaining in War Crimes Cases” training regional lawyers in practice and skills required to negotiate plea agreements in local war crimes courts. 24 to 28 June 2008, Sarajevo and Banja Luka
  • Trainer: Sixth Seminar for Counsel Practicing Before the International Criminal Court. Training lawyers seeking cases before the I.C.C, June 2008, The Hague.
  • Speaker: O.S.C.E. and Rule of Law Initiative Roundtable “Plea Agreements in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” 15 April 2008, Sarajevo.
  • International Observer, trial in the “Science Research Foundation” Case, Istanbul,Turkey: (April 2008)
  • Lecturer: University of Leiden Law Faculty (9 April 2008) Guest lecturer on
  • International Human Rights focusing on Balkan War cases and defence function at the ICTY
  • Lecturer: University of California Hastings School of Law, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. for students in International Criminal Law, March 2008.
  • Speaker: ICTY seminar for interns at the Office of the Prosecutor, Trial Chambers, Appeals Chambers and the Registry on “Defence Function at the ICTY,” December 2007, June 2009, May 2010
  • Speaker and Panel Member: “Defence Representation in International Criminal Trials” Seminar sponsored by 25 Bedford Row (London Chambers of Rock Tansey QC) and Wladimiroff and Waling (Dutch Chambers, The Hague), Peace Palace, The Hague, 15 June 2007
  • Lecturer: Structure of cases at the ICTY, practical problems and general introduction to international criminal law jurisprudence; for University of Santa Clara Law School, Santa Clara, California; yearly lecture June 2007 to present, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Lecturer: “Defence perspective on the Ad HocTribunals and Developing Legal Trends” Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Utrecht School of Law; Utrecht, Netherlands, April 2007
  • Delegate from and speaker for Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, toUnited Nations Conference on the Elimination of Racism,Durbin, South Africa, September 2-9, 2001
  • Speaker, San Francisco Irish Forum: “The Politics of International Extradition and the William Quinn Case,” University of San Francisco Law School, December, 1983

Teaching positions

  • Member of the Faculty: Master’s Degree Course on International Criminal Law, United Nations Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). Yearly, week long clinical training in practice of international criminal law. April, 2008 to present, United Nations Training Campus, Torino, Italy and the Fondazione deli’Avvocatura Torinese Fulvio Croce, Torino, Italy
  • Honorary Lecturer, Utrecht University School of Law, Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, September 2011 to September 2012. Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Adjunct Professor, San Francisco State University, with Professor Ann Ginger; “Peace Law,” on international treaties, international human rights law, and the structure and functions of the United Nations (2001-2003)
  • Adjunct Professor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, “Advanced Appellate Advocacy” focusing on development of oral and written advocacy skills (1994-1999)

Memberships and Appointments

  • Vice-President, Association of Defence Counsel Practicing Before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) October 2010 to October 2012
  • Member, Training Committee, ADC-ICTY (October 2012 to present)
  • Member, Program Committee, ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference Planning Committee (October 2012 to present)
  • Member, ICTY Disciplinary Board (appellate panel for ICTY disciplinary/ethics cases); appointed October 2010 to present)
  • Legal consultant to STL Defence Office on development of Code of Ethics and the Legal Aid Policy for Defence Counsel (November 2009 to February 2010).
  • Chairperson, ADC-ICTY Disciplinary Council (October 2008- 2010)
  • Member: Amicus committee, ADC-ICTY (October 2006-October 2007
  • Founding member: International Criminal Law Bureau 2008
  • Member: National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers, USA
  • Member, Board of Directors, Death Penalty Focus (1992-1996) (State of California anti-death penalty association)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, Berkeley, California (1983 to present); non-profit organization providing information to the public regarding current issues in law relating to international human rights


  • Defence Perspectives on International Criminal Practice (eds) C. Rohan and G. Zyberi (Cambridge University Press; expected date of publication, June 2015)
  • “Ethical Considerations in International Criminal Law,” in C. Rohan and G Zyberi, Defence Perspectives on International Criminal Practice (Cambridge University Press; expected date of publication, June 2015)
  • “Protecting the Rights of the Accused in International Criminal Proceedings: Lip Service or Affirmative Action?” in WA Schabas, Y McDermott, and N Hayes (eds), Ashgate Research Companion to International Criminal Law: Critical Perspectives (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, England, Ashgate Publishing Co. USA, 2013).
  • Manual on International Criminal Defence: ADC-ICTY Developed Practices, published by OSCE, ODIHR, UNICRI as part of the War Crimes Justice Project and funded by the European Union (UNICRI, ADC-ICTY, OSCE, ODIHR 2011, Turin, Italy). Editor, project coordinator and UN focal point for production of publication. The Manual is a practice oriented resource reflecting lessons learned and developed practices, written by defence counsel at the ICTY. It has been translated into Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian and Albanian. Project currently underway for translation into French.
  • “Affirmative Defences in International Criminal Trials,” in Manual on International Criminal Defence: ADC-ICTY Developed Practices
  • “Witnesses” in Manual on International Criminal Defence: ADC-ICTY Developed Practices
  • “Appeals” in Manual on International Criminal Defence: ADC-ICTY Developed Practices
  • “Rules Governing the Presentation of Testimonial Evidence,” in K. Khan, C Buisman, C Gosnell (eds), Principles of Evidence in International Criminal Justice, (Oxford University Press, 2010)
  • “Reasonable Doubt Standard of Proof in International Criminal Trials,” in K Khan, C Buisman, C Gosnell (eds), Principles of Evidence in International Criminal Justice, (Oxford University Press, 2010)


  • English (mother tongue)
  • French (conversational)
  • Spanish (conversational)
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