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President of the ICCBA Speaks at the Opening of the ICC Judicial Year 2024

On 19 January 2024, the International Criminal Court opened its judicial year. The President of the ICCBA, Ms. Marie-Hélène Proulx, the ICC President, the Prosecutor, and the Registrar, provided statements. The keynote speech was given by Honourable Lady Justice Stella Isibhakhomen Anukam, Judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Ms. Proulx began by acknowledging the pivotal developments of the previous year, notably the adoption of a long-awaited new legal aid policy. This policy, made possible with the backing of States Parties and the Court's Registry, is expected to usher in a new era of increased support for external counsels and their teams, ultimately enhancing their ability to fulfil their mandates and improving working conditions.

Underscoring the crucial role of defense and victim representation, Ms. Proulx emphasized that the work of external counsels is fundamental to ensuring procedural fairness and enhancing the global standing of the ICC within the international legal landscape. From the initial stages of legal proceedings to the implementation of reparations, external counsels play a key role in upholding the principles of justice.

Ms. Proulx expressed gratitude for the unwavering commitment and passion demonstrated by external counsels and their teams, irrespective of whether they represent victims or accused individuals. The shared dedication to serving justice forms a common bond among legal professionals involved in the ICC's mission.

Addressing the challenges of the current global landscape, Ms. Proulx asserted that conflicts persist worldwide, causing devastating impacts on lives. In a world marked by uncertainty and danger, Ms. Proulx emphasized the need for justice to serve as a guiding light. Fearless lawyers, committed to representing victims and defending clients, are indispensable for maintaining the rule of law.

Highlighting the unique qualities of ICC external counsel and their teams, Ms. Proulx stated that they embody the spirit of unwavering commitment. The ICCBA takes pride in representing and advocating for these legal professionals within the Court's ecosystem.

Looking ahead, Ms. Proulx expressed optimism for achieving a greater understanding of the diverse roles played by stakeholders within the Court and overcoming challenges collaboratively. As the ICCBA looks forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead, the hope is to establish a better dialogue and build on common values for the collective pursuit of justice on the international stage.

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