Members of the Partnership will intervene as Amici Curiæ before the International Criminal Court in the Al Bashir case

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May 21, 2018 – A group of experts including members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice were granted leave to submit observations on complicated and controversial questions about the immunity of a head of state.

The group of experts, composed of Darryl Robinson (Queen’s University), Fannie Lafontaine (Laval University), Valerie Oosterveld (Western University), Margaret M. deGuzman (Temple University), Robert Cryer (Birmingham Law School), and Carsten Stahn (Leiden University), have been invited to submit an Amici Curiae to the Court before June 18, 2018. Mark Kersten (Munk School of Global Affairs) and Sergey Vasiliev (Leiden University) were also consulted in the preparation of the request.

The issues arise in a case against President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, accused of genocide and other crimes committed in Darfur. The UN Security Council referred the situation to the International Criminal Court, and ordered Sudan to ‘cooperate fully’ with the Court.  Some states, including Jordan, have failed to arrest Omar Al-Bashir.  The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan appealled against the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber II on non-compliance with the Court’s request for arrest and surrender of Omar Al-Bashir.  The case concerns the power of the UN Security Council to set aside immunities in the pursuit of justice.

The request for leave and the decision on its acceptance are available online.

Canada’s Presidency of the G7: CPIJ Submitted Recommendations to Advance Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

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April 2018 – The Canadian Partnership for International Justice recently submitted a note to Ambassador Isabelle Hudon, Co-President of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency, to provide useful information and reflection material in preparation of the 44thG7 Summit that will be held in June in Charlevoix.

On November 16, 2017, members of the CPIJ participated in a public event and subsequent experts’ roundtable consultation with Deputy Minister for the G7 and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister, Peter Boehm. The event was held at Laval University in Québec City. In addition, CPIJ members met with Ambassador Hudon, on March 14, 2018, also at Laval University. The note, written by Fannie Lafontaine, Pascal Paradis, Janine Lespérance, Penelope Simons and Valerie Oosterveld, was then submitted to Ambassador Hudon at her request, on April 16.

The submitted note aimed at contributing to the development of Canada’s agenda and specific priorities for the G7 meeting. In particular, CPIJ identified three main areas in which Canada is well placed to take a leadership role:

  1. Preventing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through increased criminal accountability;
  2. Ending corporate complicity in human rights violations, in particular violence against women and girls, through corporate accountability and remedy mechanisms;
  3. Using laws and legal mechanisms to empower women and girls.

These subjects relate to the five key themes that the Canadian Government has identified as priorities for Canada’s G7 Presidency, and are all most acutely related to the main and cross-cutting priority theme of Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. They are also central to the themes Building a more peaceful and secure world and Investing in growth that works for everyone.

The recommendations include notably the creation of  an international taskforce on accountability for SGBV, which would serve to gather and identify best practices in the prosecution of this type of violence from past and present international criminal accountability mechanisms. They also include the adoption of adequately funded ombudsperson mechanisms, with the independent ability to conduct effective investigations, make recommendations, and impose sanctions on corporations and provide reparations to victims of corporate related human rights violations, including SGBV. The direction of foreign aid and international cooperation programmes toward supporting women’s legal empowerment is also recommended.

See the full note here.

Canada-Wide Blog Contest: The Future of International Criminal Justice

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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute, the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice are launching a national contest to find the best blog posts on the current challenges or on the future of international criminal justice. This contest is open to students from all Canadian universities, regardless of the cycle and discipline, who share a particular interest in international criminal justice. Blog posts submitted may either present current debates on issues of international criminal justice or reflect your vision of the future of international criminal justice, its prospects, its challenges. Be creative!

The selection committee comprises several eminent Canadian professors. The competition is therefore an ideal opportunity to be read by leading experts in international criminal justice. Blog posts will be selected according to originality and rigour both of the form and content. The three best submissions, as chosen by the selection committee, will be rewarded with prizes of $500, $250 and $100 respectively. These three blog posts will also be published on the blog Quid Justitiae. We invite you to submit your blog post before July 1st, 2018, 11:59 pm PST, at Blog posts must be submitted in .doc or .docx format and follow the Quid Justitiae guidelines reproduced below, otherwise they will not be considered. More information is available here.

** The deadline to submit your texts has passed. Deliberations are now taking place and the results will be published within a few weeks. Thanks to all participants, and stay tuned! **

Call for Applications: Scholarship to Attend the International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School

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Three $ 2,000 scholarships (Masters and Ph.D. students)

Purpose of the scholarship

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice is offering three $ 2,000 scholarships to graduate students from developing countries to attend the International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School, to be held at the Montreal Centre for International Studies, University of Montreal (CÉRIUM), June 4 to 9, 2018. This scholarship will be used to help pay students’ tuition, travel expenses, and lodging.


Please send a file containing:

  • A short CV (use this format), including the list of academic and professional achievements (e.g. education, scholarships, publications, presentations at conferences);
  • A letter of motivation specifying your research interests and justifying the benefit of participating in the summer school for the advancement of your project;
  • A copy of the grades obtained in your current program;
  • A proof of current enrolment in a postsecondary institution.

Filing the application

Complete files must be sent by email to The deadline to receive applications is Friday, March 30, 2018 at 5:00 PM. Files must be sent as a single file in PDF format. Only complete files will be considered.

Prosecution of international crimes: an expert meeting with 27 worldwide experts will take place this week in Ottawa

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Ottawa, March 14th, 2018 – The expert meeting “Prosecuting International Crimes: Expert Meeting on the Collaboration between National Prosecuting Authorities (NPAs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)” will be held on March 15 and 16, 2018, at the University of Ottawa.

This expert meeting aims at significantly improving the collaboration between NPAs and NGOs in the prosecution of international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

This collaboration is fundamental to the success of the global international justice system created in 1998 by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. According to this international statute, States bear the primary responsibility to investigate, and prosecute or extradite suspects of international crimes. They are often helped by NGOs, who play a significant role in the cases prosecuted at the national level. But little has been done so far to develop guidelines for ensuring that NPAs and NGOs involved in such cases operate in a way that is mutually supportive, aiming at the goal of a successful prosecution with due regard to fair trial guarantees with a gender perspective at all stages.

The 27 worldwide experts from States, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions will thus share their views on various issues influencing this collaboration based on their experience and knowledge. These discussions will lead to the publication of a report that would have durable impact on the laws, policies and institutions that aim at deterring atrocity crimes and contributing to the healing process of victims.

This meeting is organized by the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Canadian Department of Justice, the Canadian Centre for International Justice, Lawyers Without Borders Canada, the Human Rights Center of University of California Berkeley School of Law, Université Laval and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. It is partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and by Heritage Canada. Many States and civil society organizations also contribute in-kind support.

PKI Global Justice Journal Calls for Contributions!

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February 2018 – The PKI Global Justice Journal is currently inviting submissions to the Journal on various subjects related to international, transitional and transnational justice.

Over the last five months, the newly-established PKI Global Justice Journal has published contributions from legal experts on a variety of topics, including on the transitional process in Kosovo, on extradition proceedings in Canada, and on the activation of the crime of aggression. It has also covered landmark Canadian cases such as Araya v. Nevsun Resources Ltd. where it provided critical insights into the notion of forum non conveniens and the convergence of customary international law and private claims for human rights breaches. Contributors have also commented on international jurisprudence, offering in-depth analyses on the cases of KatangaAl Mahdi, and Al-Werfalli before the International Criminal Court.

The Journal also serves as a forum to report on the latest news and developments pertaining to international law and, as such, covers major events like the 16th Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court Statute held in New York City this past December.

Through the contributions of practitioners and academics, including the Institute’s Faculty, the PKI Global Justice Journal aims to keep readers apprised of legal developments relevant to the Institute’s expertise and to provide a space for on-going and diverse debate on issues related to international, transitional and transnational justice.

Contributions may take the form of short commentaries, longer analyses, or reviews of relevant articles and books on international justice theory and practice. The Journal publishes both in English and French.

For more details on submission requirements and on the editorial process, please refer to the Journal’s Call for Contributions.

Commemorations of the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute in the Hague: Co-Researcher Darryl Robinson Participated

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February 2018 – The Partnership participated in the launch of commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in the Hague, the Netherlands.  The event took place on February 15 and 16 2018.

At the first day of the event, held at the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s premises, key actors offered reflections on the trajectory of international justice.  Speakers included the President, Prosecutor and the Registrar of the ICC, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others.

The second day of the commemoration, held at the Peace Palace, featured three interactive sessions on, respectively, the historic significance of the Statute, current challenges for the ICC, and the future of international justice.  Each session was led by 3-4 panelists and then opened up for interactive dialogue among the participants.

Co-researcher Darryl Robinson, Associate Professor at Queen’s University, spoke in the second session.  He discussed the challenging communications environment for the Court.  One element is that some defendants and opponents have had the resources to launch effective public relations campaigns against the Court.  Another element is that even Court supporters have contradictory expectations for the Court. The event was well attended by experts on international criminal justice, including officials who helped negotiate the Rome Statute, leaders from non-governmental organizations, diplomats, academics, and journalists.

“Justice Must be Done!” Lawyers Without Borders Canada Unveils the Results of a Consultation on the Needs, Perceptions and Expectations of Victims of the Armed Conflict in Mali

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2018 – Within the framework of the project Justice, Prevention and Reconciliation for Women, Minors and Other Persons Affected by the Malian Crisis (JUPREC), Lawyers Without Borders Canada made public a consultation report which conveys the voices of the victims of the 2012 armed conflict and sheds light on their needs, perceptions and expectations towards the implementation of inclusive and efficient transitional justice mechanisms. The full report is available here, and the summary is here (French only).

This consultation, carried out in close collaboration with many Malian civil society organizations, gathered the voices of 3755 individuals in the northern and central municipalities that were the most affected by the conflict (Gao, Ségou, Tombouctou and Mopti). The consultation was also conducted at Bamako and Koulikoro, in the south of the country, with persons displaced by the violences that continue to weaken the north of the country.

“We salute the courage of those who accepted to communicate the horrors they have lived, and those of the investigators and the civil society, who took great risks for the truth to be known and justice to be rendered. This report allows victims to effectively participate to the reconstruction of the institutions. It represents a major advance in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and hopefully it will mark a turning point in the reconciliation and the fight against impunity in Mali”, declared Me Pascal Paradis, ASFC General Director.

The fight against impunity must be the highest priority

Victimes raised a very important amount of grave human rights violations, such as murders, massacres, incidents of torture, sexual assault, destruction and pillage of property and buildings, kidnappings and other forms of enforced disappearance.

Victims expressed frustration due to the lack of implementation of court’s decisions, the weakness of judicial services and problems with access to justice for women and minors.

They notably deplored the government’s lack of consideration, as it does not acknowledge the sufferings they still endure. They emphasized that it is essential that they can effectively participate in establishment of facts in order to avoir such acts to happen again.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission ensures the victims’ implication in the justice process, for their sufferings to be acknowledged and not to be forgotten.

A synthesis report on the four multi-stakeholders dialogue workshops on transitional justice in Mali that were lead within the JUPREC project’s framework in 2016-2017 is also available. Il includes recommendations of actors from all layers of the Malian society.

Additional information

Launched in 2015, the JUPREC project was made possible thanks to the financial support of Canada’s World Affairs. It is implemented by Lawyers Without Borders Canada in consortium with the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation and the National School of Public Administration (École nationale d’administration publique).


Battleground Metropolis: The 2018 Edmonton IHL Conference

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Partnership co-researcher Joanna Harrington will be part of a conference co-organized with the Canadian Red Cross examining the changing nature of warfare, the movement of battles into the cities, with consequences for victims, and the challenges for international humanitarian law (IHL) to protect civilians in these circumstances. The 2018 Edmonton International Humanitarian Law Conference will include an introduction to this important area of law by Jonathan Somer, legal adviser with the Canadian Red Cross, and then a panel discussion will follow, featuring speakers from academia and practice, including co-researcher Professor Joanna Harrington, Andrew Carswell of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Professor Christopher Penny from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, and Professor Siobhan Byrn, the Director of the Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Alberta. Law students in attendance will also gain the opportunity to chat informally about volunteering opportunities and career paths in international humanitarian law at a reception that will follow the event.

The event will take place on March 2, 2018.

Registration link at:–trainings-and-events/march-2nd-2018-edmonton-conference–battleground-metropolis

Spotlight on the Partnership’s Attendance to the 16th Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court

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The 16th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the Canadian Partnership for International Justice attended, is already over. Summary of two eventful weeks.

The ASP started its work on December 4 with a plenary opening session where the main issues of the 16th session were discussed, namely the election of six judges and members of the Bureau, the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, situations of non-cooperation, the relation between the Court and State Parties (in particular African States) and the remedies granted to victims of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Later this day, after the first round of voting, the Assembly elected two judges, Ms. Tomoko Akane from Japan and Ms Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza from Peru. The Partnership delegates then attended a side event on the professionalization of investigations in relation to international crimes. This first day ended with a reception organized by Amnesty International to launch their new platform “Human Rights in International Justice”.

During the second day of the ASP, three more women judges were elected: Reine Alapini-Gansou, from Bénin; Solomy Balungi Bossa, from Ouganda; and Kimberly Prost, from Canada. The Partnership delegation attended many side events, including one related to reparative justice that highlighted that the full realization of the complementarity principle cannot be achieved without the respect of the rights of victims of international crimes.

The Partnership delegates started the third day of the ASP hoping that the election of judges could be completed so the Assembly could move on to address other issues. Their wish came true when Rosario Salvatore Aitala, from Italy, was the sixth and last judge to be elected after the ninth round of voting. In the end, the voting process was a lot faster than in 2014, to the benefit of the Partnership’s delegates. They took the opportunity to meet with the co-researcher Mark Kersten to discuss issues related to international justice. Furthermore, the side event to which the delegates attended that day touched topics such as the national jurisdictions’ role in the fight against impunity, the importance of dissuasion and the role of the ICC in the current human rights violations, issues related to the cooperation of Côte d’Ivoire with the ICC, issues related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and the qualification of ecocide as a crime against humanity.

On the fourth day, the delegates carefully listened to the speeches pronounced by the representatives of State Parties, which intervened during the plenary session to publicly express their position on different topics, including the crimes of aggression and the budget, and to carry out messages to the world and to their colleagues. The delegates also attended side events discussing the second anniversary of the African Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA), the drafted multilateral treaty for most serious international crimes, the particularities of the Nuremberg Principles Academy and the possibility of an ICC intervention to judge extrajudicial killings related to drug offences in the Philippines. Furthermore, in the context of celebrations related to the 15th anniversary of the ICC in 2017 and the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in 2018, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) launched in the evening the Gender Justice Legacy Wall, on which the co-researcher Valerie Oosterveld’s name appears, jointly with extraordinary women and men who worked for this cause. During this event, Ms. Brigid Inder received a special award for her work within WIGJ, which she leaves after nearly 15 years of implication.

During the fifth and last day the the first week of the ASP16, non-State Parties to the Rome Statute and members of the civil society presented their declaration to the ASP. Then, the Partnership delegates had the great pleasure to informally discuss issues related to international justice with the president elected Judge O-Gon Kwon. They also took part to the launch of the study “Congolese Jurisprudence Concerning International Law Crimes” (« La jurisprudence congolaise en matière de crimes de droit international ») and of the ICC Prosecutor’s annual report on preliminary investigations conducted in 2017. The day ended with a side event on the situation in Burundi following the opening of an ICC investigation, which was followed by an expert panel discussion on immunities in international law, moderated by Mark Kersten.

After a week-end busy with the writing of blogposts, reports and publications of all kinds, the Partnership delegates were back at the United Nations Headquarters on Monday, December 11, for the sixth day of the ASP. The discussions in the plenary sessions, to which they attended, concerned cooperation and the drafted amendments to the Rome Statute. Furthermore, the day war particularly rich in side events, since the partner Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized an event on the progress made in relation to the fight against impunity in Mali. The delegation also reflected the ICC’s role in accountability for grave crimes committed in Ukraine, the progress made in the drafting of an international convention on crimes against humanity, and the role if the Security Council and the ASP in the improvement of the cooperation between the State Parties and the ICC. Later on, in the afternoon, the delegates visited the the UN Headquarters, which was both an instructive and entertaining activity. This eventful day ended with a reception in which an expert panel discussed the relations between the ICC and Africa, and by the presentation of a film on the formation of journalists in the field of international justice.

Fannie Lafontaine joined the delegation for the 7th and 8th days ASP, enriching it with her stunning expertise and her contagious dynamism. The seventh day was of particular importance for the delegates, who were eager to meet with Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations Special Representative for International Migration. After conversing with her for nearly one hour, the delegates attended the plenary session discussions about the drafted resolutions to be adopted by the Assembly at the end of the week. The Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also presented her report concerning the current situation in Darfur. Later the same day, Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized a second event in as many days, this time concerning the challenges of the Colombian peace process. Other side events of the day led the delegates to reflect on ways to improve gender equality in the ICC personal, the use of SGBV as a method of warfare, and the fight against impunity of SGBV in Centrafrican Republic, Colombia, DRC and Iraq. In the end of the afternoon, the delegation was pleased to meet with Catherine Boucher, legal advisor at the Permanent Mission of Canada in the UN. The content of this discussion must remain confidential; however, delegated truly appreciated to get to know this women engaged in the practice of law.

The highlight of the eighth day of the ASP was the side event organized by the co-researcher Valerie Oosterveld, addressing prosecutions of SGBV within the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Described by many as the best side event of the week, it brought together an expert panel moderated by the Partnership co-director Fannie Lafontaine. After this resounding success, the delegated met with the Canadian judge Kimberly Prost, who was just elected at the ICC, and asked her various questions about her career and, notably, her opinion on issues currently faced by the Court. During that day, delegated also had the occasion to attend side events related to the creation of an Inter-American Criminal Court to judge issues related to organized crime, and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of landmines.

To say that the ninth and last day of the ASP was expected by all would be an euphemism. The eyes of the whole world were on the ASP16, expecting a historical decision: the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction on the crime of aggression. After adopting resolutions concerning the Registrar’s election, the Assembly had lengthy negotiations behind closed doors on the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction. These negotiations were planned to last until 6pm, but lasted a lot longer since no consensus could be reach in the time allowed. It was impossible to know when they would come to an end, and the delegates knew that if they left the UN Headquarters, they could not go back in before the next morning due to restrictions on access to the building. On the other hand, the food available there was very limited, and all were starving. The delegates decided to remain on the site, determined to do everything they could to attend this historical event. It is only at 9:30pm that the NGOs could have access to the plenary session to witness the deliberations. A last drafted resolution not opened to negotiations was submitted to the appreciation of States. Minutes later, a mistake was found in the wording of the third article, and a new version was transmitted. After a long pause allowing some discussions to happen, many States made declarations. It is only at that moment that the Partnership delegates noticed, not without a certain pride, that they were the only non-State representatives left at the Assembly. Their patience was finally rewarded when, a little before 10pm, the resolution was adopted without modification, and, importantly, by consensus! The subsequent State declarations watered the ambient joy, as they expressed their will not to be bound by the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The plenary continued in the night until 2:30am, under the delegates’ attentive eyes, which were still very awake.

The delegates unanimously share the opinion that they will keep an imperishable memory of their attendance to the 16th ASP of the ICC. This event was extremely enriching, on the professional as well as on the personal level, and the skill acquired as well as the people met will never be forgotten. The delegation wants to emphasize the exceptional work of Erick Sullivan, which coordinated all its activities both before, during and after the ASP, and revised each and every publication made by every delegate, making sure at the same time that everyone’s attendance to the ASP was a most positive and unforgettable experience.


Catherine Savard

© Photos by Maxime Mariage