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Practicing Before the International Criminal Court

By Peter Robinson

Americans are under investigation for the first time in the 20-year history of the International Criminal Court (ICC).1 Charges of torture against high-ranking CIA officials and U.S. Army commanders in Afghanistan are a real possibility. Here’s what American criminal lawyers ought to know about the ICC.

From Nuremburg to The Hague

Americans played a prominent role in the first international criminal courts in Nuremberg and Tokyo after World War II. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson was the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, and his famous quote “to give these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well”2 is still cited as one of the most persuasive arguments in favor of defense rights. American lawyers admirably defended Japanese clients at the Tokyo trials.

International criminal justice was dormant for almost 50 years until 1994 when the United Nations established ad hoc international criminal tribunals to prosecute atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda. In 1998, the St

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