Who is Karim Khan, the new ICC prosecutor general?


The 50-year-old Briton, defense lawyer in numerous ICC cases, will succeed Fatou Bensouda next June 16.

Member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) elected a 50-year-old British lawyer on Friday, February 12, Karim Khan, as the next Attorney General. He was chosen against three other European candidates in the second round of the ballot, winning 72 votes out of the 122 cast. A human rights specialist, this lawyer recently led a special UN investigation into the crimes of the Islamic State group. During this investigation, he called for trials similar to that experienced by the Nazi leaders in Nuremberg.

He will succeed on June 16 the outgoing Attorney General, The Gambian Fatou Bensouda, which has carried out controversial investigations, in particular on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or theAfghanistan. Karim Khan has served as a defense lawyer in numerous ICC cases, including for the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam.

He first trained in international law at the former International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where he served as legal advisor to the prosecutor’s office. He then moved on to defense and represented the Kenyan Vice President William Ruto before the ICC. The Briton was also a defense lawyer for ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor before a special tribunal for Sierra Leone and a lawyer for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon based in The Hague, created for bring to justice the assassins of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005.

The third prosecutor general of the ICC

The Hague-based ICC has a total of 123 members out of the 193 that make up the United Nations. The United States, Russia, China, or even Israel, are not among them. The tenure of the prosecutor is nine years. The one who will be the third prosecutor of the Court since its creation in 2002 will be in charge of voluminous files and complex cases, in a court whose legitimacy is constantly called into question.

“There are many places in the world where the Court could act,” said an ambassador, however, on condition of anonymity. It is “a young institution” and “we do not need less (international justice) but more” accountability, he adds. The first responsibilities of the new prosecutor will be to decide on the next steps for the war crimes investigation in Afghanistan and the controversial investigation into the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza

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