The Right to Access Legal Representation and Admissibility to the International Criminal Court: Walking The Tightrope Between Legitimacy and Effectiveness

Holly Kendall


Ratification of the Rome Statute was a significant step in developing international rule of law. The International Criminal Court (ICC) now faces challenges in balancing its judicial character with maintaining the ongoing support of states. The contradictory outcomes in decisions on the admissibility of the cases against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi raise questions about the relevance of access to legal representation for admissibility to the ICC. This paper argues that the purposes of the ICC require it to consider access to legal representation in its decisions on admissibility, that the Rome Statute permits its consideration and that the Court should take a pluralist approach that ensures that basic standards of access to legal representation are met while gradually developing higher standards of international criminal justice. In this sense, it could walk the tightrope between legitimacy and effectiveness.


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