Working in the ICC: Know-how

Interested in Criminal International Law and dream of working as a counsel before the International Criminal Court? Before you pursue this path, it is important to be aware of all the requisites of the said position and how to achieve the same.

Guiding your way

Ms. Manreet Kaur

Assistant to Counsel in the Defence team in the ICC with wide experience of Criminal Practice in National and International Cases

A first generation lawyer actively practicing before the Supreme Court of India, Member of Supreme Court Bar Association, Member of International Criminal Court Bar Association, and Member of Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association.

Being interested in a specific field of law can open up various career paths for an aspiring lawyer. However, it is not the opportunities that count but the efforts one makes to grab those opportunities and use them to the best of their potential. Such efforts might vary and include the research one does to know all the about a path before pursuing the same. Such a practice only helps one in the long run.

Therefore, working before the International Criminal Court might be a dream for many but only a few can achieve it. So, how can one go about the same to be successful? Let’s find out!

Defining this path from the inside

1. What should you expect and what can be expected out of you?

As an Indian Assistant to Counsel, it is quite tough to settle in International Practice. If you are not resourceful / financially fit and hard-working then do not think that you can settle to work before the ICC or in any other international organization.
It’s a fact that legal profession is the only profession in the world which requires you your whole life to self-study and keep yourself updated with various laws and amendments. It’s like a person who goes to gym daily and keeps his body.

Furthermore, all the International Organizations are situated in The Hague, The Netherlands, therefore, it is really important that your body should be healthy and fit to handle the weather of Hague and you are able to work in an unpredictable weather. Seeing a sun in months is a miracle in itself. Therefore, bottom line is that you need to be willing to work-hard and stay fit in order to survive in this profession.

2. Working as a criminal lawyer in India and as a counsel before the ICC: The Comparison

Personally, there is no comparison between the two. The working pattern of both the places is totally different. ICC practice is so vast and high stake. It connects you with people from around the world. However, I feel sad and disappointed because in Indian Litigation there is no duty of responsibility between a lawyer and his client. Clients in some cases don’t pay the lawyers for their hard work and the worst part is that there is no procedure to ensure the same from a client. On the other hand, some advocates do injustice to their clients. There is not much professionalism in Indian Advocacy and Judiciary.
In fact, there are so many drawbacks in Indian Legal Practice that lead to defects in International Legal Practice that can be learned only when you are actually involved in this profession.
It is really a multi colored profession, although it carries only two colors i.e. Black and White. Happiness of winning a case, sadness of losing a case and the likes.

Requisites for Expectations as an Individual

1. How to be a successful applicant

If a professional aspires to work as a Counsel before the ICC then it is a long journey to cover. Firstly, a minimum of 5 years of practice dedicatedly working with criminal, domestic and international criminal cases is mandatory so that you can show the required skill-set you are carrying in your carriage for working before the ICC.
Secondly, you are required to have already worked with a Listed Counsel in ICC and gained the experience certificate from his/her office.
Thirdly, you should have a Master degree in International Law related subjects.

2. Building your profile and the required skill-set

Deep knowledge of law and research work in International Criminal Law is a must for ICC. Requisite skills are different for every position in ICC. For instance, if an aspirant wants to become a Counsel then they should work properly in Criminal Practice and if an aspirant wants to become an investigator then he/she has to pick opportunities in that stream. Therefore, there is no fixed set of rules.
All depends upon the interest and requirement criteria of the vacancy post. A post of a Legal Officer, an Investigator, a Translator, an Interpreter, and for the Office of the Prosecutor and the Defense Counsel Team all will have a different criterion as per their vacancy requirements.

3. A successful intern before the ICC

Strong Profile always appeals to and attracts the Recruitment Committee. In your application, you must carry good paper work, research work, and achievements. Your motivation letter (SOP) should be very precise and heavy weighted with less words and an impressive explanation. Recommendations from highly qualified people always enhance the gravity of one’s application.

In conclusion,

Stay consistent. Patience is the actual key to success in Legal Profession. Procrastination is the destruction of the destiny. This profession is a Golden Tree which will surely be fruitful if it is timely watered and cared with dedication and hard work.

Believe in yourself.

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