International Criminal Law

Practice Summary

Doughty Street Chambers barristers have unrivalled experience in the field of international criminal law. Members of chambers have acted as prosecutors, defence counsel and judges at international courts and have contributed to many of the leading texts on international criminal law. Members of chambers have been instrumental in developing an effective, credible and fair international criminal justice system and continue to be involved in milestone cases at the international level.


Working as Prosecutors, Defence Counsel and Judges at International Courts

Doughty Street barristers have prosecuted and defended groundbreaking cases at international criminal courts involving allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Members of the international criminal law team have worked on cases involving alleged international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Libya, Lebanon, Kenya and elsewhere. Team members have appeared before all the major international courts, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in Freetown, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).


Members of Doughty Street's International Criminal Law team are currently or have been involved in the following cases:


  • John RWD Jones QC and Amal Alamuddin are defence counsel in the case at the ICC against Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al Senussi. And Wayne Jordash QC represents the Libyan government in the case.
  • Geoffrey Robertson QC served as the first President of the Special Court of Sierra Leone at which former Liberian President Charles Taylor was tried.
  • John RWD Jones and Guenael Mettraux secured a historic acquittal at the ICTY for Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač - who had been sentenced in 2011 to 24 years and 18 years respectively for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
  • Steven Powles successfully defended the former Kenyan Minister for Industrialisation who faced charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
  • John RWD Jones QC and Guenael Mettraux represent Mustafa Badreddine and Assad Sabra in connection with the terrorist attack that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri that is being prosecuted at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
  • Wayne Jordash acted as lead counsel at the ICTY defending Jovica Stanišić, the first intelligence chief to be tried by an international criminal tribunal, and also acts as a consultant to the appellate team in the case of Mr. Sagahutu, convicted in 2011 at the ICTR for the crime of genocide.
  • Max du Plessis represents clients in South African courts in cases involving torture as a crime against humanity committed in Zimbabwe, and international crimes committed in Rwanda, South Africa and (together with Professor John Dugard SC) the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


Many team members are also on the list of approved counsel for defence and victim representation at the various international criminal courts.


Appointments to International Courts and Commissions


Members of chambers have been involved in UN-sponsored investigations and commissions, including:

  • the United Nations Human Rights Committee;
  • the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other terrorist attacks in Lebanon;
  • the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI);
  • the office of Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and League of Arab States on Syria; as well as
  • international human rights fact-finding missions organised by the International Bar Association and the Bar Human Rights Committee to countries including Syria, Egypt, Rwanda, Burma and Nigeria;
  • the advisory committee for the Proposed International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity.


Legal Advice for Individuals NGOs and States


Members of the team have provided advice to Governments, individuals, NGOs and victims groups on international criminal prosecutions and legal and institutional reform relating to accountability for torture. Doughty Street barristers have also worked within international tribunals in positions ranging from judge's assistants to principal defenders and legal consultants for the Prosecution.


Members have done advisory work in relation to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the UN International Independent Investigation Commission investigating political assassinations in Beirut, including the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister and the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.


One team member also worked as an adviser to Kofi Annan in his capacity as Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League on the Syrian peace process.


Doughty Street barristers also represented States and NGOs during negotiations to establish the International Criminal Court and at meetings of the Assembly of States Parties, including the Kampala Conference that adopted a definition of the crime of aggression and other amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance


Many members of the international criminal law team also represent individuals and provide advice regarding extradition to and from the United Kingdom as well as under bilateral, regional and international agreements. For more details click here.

Domestic Prosecution of International Crimes


Members of the team have advised victim groups seeking to initiate prosecutions in English, South African and Kenyan courts under domestic ICC legislation, and applying the principle of universal jurisdiction, for example in relation to Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Israel. A member of the team also submitted written evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on amending the law on international crimes to allow retrospective prosecutions under the ICC Act 2001 and also acted as principal legal consultant for the Aegis Trust, the UK's Genocide trust, successfully campaigning with Aegis for a change in the law on international crimes. This resulted in section 70 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which now permits genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 1 January 1991, anywhere in the world, to be prosecuted in the UK when the perpetrator is British or a British resident.


International Sanctions and Asset Freezing


Members of the team have also represented individuals subject to travel bans and asset freezes under the various United Nations Sanctions asset-freezing regimes. This has included challenges before domestic courts, the European Court of Justice and the United Nations.


Our barristers have acted in cases involving United Nations Security Council counter-terrorism sanctions imposed against individuals and entities allegedly associated with Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban network. They have also acted for individuals listed in UN security council resolution 1970 relating to Libya as well as individuals exposed to sanctions under European or domestic legislation.


Doughty Street barristers have been successful in several high-profile cases in having clients removed from UN and/or UK Treasury lists. This includes the case of Agnes Reeves-Taylor (the ex-wife of the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor), Saad Al-Fagih (a Saudi Arabian opposition figure) and Ismail Bhuta (subject to HM Treasury sanctions).


Counsel have also advised individuals and entities placed on the United Nations Consolidated List about the de-listing procedures and avenues for legal redress both in domestic courts and before the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ), which have so far engaged two separate proceedings before the ECJ (Abdulbasit Abdulrahim v Council and Commission; Faraj Hassan v Council) and one set of domestic proceedings involving asset-freezing against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


Interpol Red Notices

Doughty Street barristers regularly advise persons subject to Interpol red notices and other notices, whether located in the UK or abroad. This has included working with lawyers in other jurisdictions as well as petitions to the Committee for the Control of Interpol’s Files.


Education and Training

Team members regularly conduct advocacy and legal training of prosecution and defence advocates, as well as judges, in association with the International Bar Association, the International Lawyers Project, the International Crime in Africa Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Members have trained judges, prosecutors, government officials, NGOs and military officers, including the British Army and judges in Rwanda, Tunisia, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda and Bahrain.


Many team members are associated with universities and institutes and frequently give lectures and presentations, as well as analysis on television and other media, on issues relating to international criminal law.


They have written many articles and chapters as well as leading practitioner guides in the field and provided lectures and training on international criminal and humanitarian law both here and abroad.  Please see related publications for more information.




Members of Doughty Street Chambers regularly host and speak at conferences, seminars and events on international criminal law. Initiatives include a joint seminar series in collaboration with Chatham House entitled Milestones in International Criminal Justice, as well as a joint program of talks with Human Rights Watch on the International Criminal Court and international justice more broadly.

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