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On 16 November 2021, IILAT held an online debate, attended by over 150 people. For over one-and-a-half hours, four distinguished panelists gave the audience a unique insight into the topic of the evening: ‘The Secrets of Advocacy before International Criminal Tribunals’.


The four distinguished panelists, who between them have over a century of experience in advocating before international criminal tribunals, were: 

  • Ms. Joanna Korner CMG QC, Judge at the International Criminal Court;

  • Ms. Thembile Segoete, Senior Legal Officer and Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Prosecutor at the Arusha branch of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals;

  • Ms. Kate Gibson, Defence lawyer to Jean-Pierre Bemba, Paul Rusesabagina, former President Hashim Thaci, Bosco Ntaganda and Justin Mugenzi, among others; and

  • Mr. Francisco Cox, Victims Counsel at the ICC in the Ongwen case and name partner at law firm Balmaceda, Cox and Piña.


The debate was expertly moderated by Mr. Ben Gumpert QC, former ICC Senior Trial Lawyer and ICTR Defence Counsel, currently Circuit Judge in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ben Gumpert QC’s questions challenged the panelists. For example, he asked Ms. Joanna Korner CMG QC whether we actually need specific advocacy skills in front of international judges, and asked which are the most common failings of advocates before international tribunals. He asked Ms. Thembile Segoete what the principal challenges in international advocacy for common law advocates were, and whether women were perceived differently in the Courtroom, and how to rectify that.


Mr. Ben Gumpert QC asked Ms. Kate Gibson whether good advocates were born, not made, and whether advocacy can be taught at all, and if so, how. (Ms. Gibson’s response: “Don’t be someone else! Be yourself”!) He asked Mr. Francisco Cox about the principal challenges in international advocacy for civil law advocates, and about the challenges for advocates who are non-native English/French speakers, or may have disabilities such as hearing/speech problems, and whether those challenges can they be overcome/mitigated. (Mr. Cox’s advice: “Prepare, prepare, prepare”!)


The audience also contributed some highly pertinent questions on the night, including whether there was a book that serves as a good reference to the skills needed to be a successful advocate in an international system. (Ms. Joanna Korner CMG QC proposed Iain Morley’s book, “The Devil’s Advocate”.) Another great question was whether, when they apply either common or civil law systems of criminal procedure, judges were acting in defiance of ICC’s own procedural rules, or were the ICC’s procedural rules simply not detailed enough to cover all aspects of the trial.


The event was a great success, with the panelists engaging in a lively debate and revealing unique insights into the world of advocacy before international courts. 


IILAT wishes to thank the audience again for the participation, and the panelists and moderator.

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