British lawyer Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC* was today sworn-in to begin his nine-year term as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Khan made his solemn undertaking and formally took office during a ceremony held at the seat of the ICC in The Hague, The Netherlands. Khan was elected as ICC Prosecutor on 12 February 2021, for a nine-year term, at the second resumed 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP) in New York.
In accordance with article 45 of the Rome Statute, founding treaty of the ICC, the ceremony was held in open court. The ceremony was presided over by ICC President, Judge Piotr Hofmański. Reflecting on the critical role of the Prosecutor in the Court’s work in his remarks, President Hofmański stated: “While Judges are the ones who ultimately decide on the verdict in each case, it is also true that those cases would never reach the judges without the Prosecutor’s decision to bring them to court. And it is the Prosecutor who is responsible for the way in which preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions are conducted, and how evidence for the prosecution is selected and presented.”
‘While Judges are the ones who ultimately decide on the verdict in each case, it is also true that those cases would never reach the judges without the Prosecutor’s decision to bring them to court’ – ICC President, Judge Piotr Hofmański
“On behalf of the Court, I offer heartfelt congratulations to Mr Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC. As President of the Court, I look forward to working with him to strengthen our joint institution”, he added.
The Vice-President of the Assembly of States Parties, Ambassador Kateřina Sequensová, speaking on behalf of the ASP, stated that Mr Khan brings “an impressive amount of experience in international criminal justice” and that she was confident that his tenure “will constitute a fundamental pillar in the process of delivering international justice which we are all deeply committed to”. Ambassador Sequensová then administrated the solemn undertaking.
Mr Khan took a public oath of office declaring: “I solemnly undertake that I will perform my duties and exercise my powers as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously, and that I will respect the confidentiality of investigations and prosecutions”.
‘The Rome Statute architecture is a promise to the future that tomorrow need not be as bleak and sorrowful as yesterday’ – ICC Prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC
Mr Khan then signed his oath before the ICC Registrar, Mr Peter Lewis, and delivered his first remarks as the Prosecutor of the ICC.
“The Rome Statute architecture is a promise to the future that tomorrow need not be as bleak and sorrowful as yesterday”, stated Prosecutor Khan. “I am truly and sincerely humbled at my opportunity to serve, and the responsibilities that have been entrusted in me. I will do my outmost to discharge those responsibilities without fear or favour, faithfully and with integrity, and in full conformity with solemn declaration that I have just given”, he added.
As reported earlier by Radio Dabanga, in her valedictory statement yesterday, outgoing ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda celebrated the achievements of the court thus far, but cautioned that there is still much work to be done. In her valedictory statement issued to coincide with the culmination of her nine-year term that officially ended yesterday, Bensouda hailed the creation of the ICC as “one of humanity’s proudest moments… because it represents an awakening rooted in great human suffering throughout the ages, culminating in the recognition that lawless wars and conflict must no longer be allowed, without consequence, to cause human carnage.”
“It has been an absolute privilege to serve and to be on this journey together with all of you… We have come a long way together indeed, but we have miles to go before we sleep.”
* On 12 February 2021, Karim A. A. Khan QC was elected as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the nineteenth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in New York. Mr. Khan will be sworn in on 16 June 2021.
Karim was an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and served as the first Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da'esh/ISIL in Iraq (UNITAD) between 2018 to 2021. UNITAD was established pursuant to Security Council resolution 2379 (2017), to promote accountability efforts for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Da’esh/ISIL.
Karim is a barrister and Queen’s Counsel with more than 25 years of professional experience as an international criminal law and human rights lawyer. He has extensive experience as a prosecutor, victim’s counsel and defence lawyer in domestic and international criminal tribunals, including, but not limited to, the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He has also represented victims of human rights violations in Africa and Asia. Karim is a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn and was appointed a Recorder of the Crown Court in 2018. He was elected as the second President of the ICC Bar Association in July 2017 and is a worldwide Ambassador of the African Bar Association. He has published a number of leading texts on international criminal law and is the co-author of ‘Archbold International Criminal Courts’, now in US 5th edition.
The holder of a Bachelor of Laws degree with Honours from King’s College, University of London, in addition to various other degrees and qualifications. (Source: ICC)