Introduction and Words of Welcome to Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji by Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell

Stockholm Centre for International Law and Justice

Introduction and Words of Welcome to Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji,
President of the International Criminal Court


Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell
Former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal
Counsel of the United Nations

Juristernas hus, Stockholm University

21 October 2019

Dear Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji,

As Chairman of the Board of the Stockholm Center for international Law and Justice and former Legal Counsel of the United Nations it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Stockholm University to address the topic The Enduring Value of the International Criminal Court to Humanity. This is, in particular, since I was so deeply involved in the 1998 Rome Conference that adopted the statute of the International Criminal Court and also in the establishment of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

For my part, all of this started in 1992, when I was appointed a war crime rapporteur in the former Yugoslavia by the then Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe. On 9 February 1993, my co-rapporteurs Helmut Türk of Austria and Gro Hillestad Thune of Norway and I delivered a proposal for a statute of an international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This proposal was immediately transferred to the UN Security Council.

At this time the Council was also contemplating establishing such a tribunal. On 22 February 1993 the Council decided to do precisely this. On 6 March 1994, I took up my position as the Legal Counsel of the UN. Exactly one month later, the genocide in Rwanda broke out. On 8 November 1994, the Security Council decided to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Since Rwanda, a member of the Security Council at the time, had voted against the resolution, I was sent to Kigali to convince President Bizimungo, Prime Minister Twagiramugo and then Vice President Kagame that they should cooperate with the ICTR.

At the same time, the UN General Assembly intensified its work to establish a permanent international criminal court. The International Law Commission had been asked to prepare a Draft Statute for an International Criminal Court, which they delivered to the General Assembly in 1994.

After further preparations, including by an expert committee, the General Assembly decided to convene a conference in Rome in the summer of 1998 to negotiate a statute. It became my responsibility to be the Representative of the Secretary-General at the Conference, basically responsible for its organisation. The Codification Division of the UN Office of Legal Affairs became its Secretariat.

The States succeeded, and the so-called Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court was adopted on 17 July 1998 by a solid majority of the participating States: 120 yes, 7 no and 21 abstentions. In April 2002, the 60 ratifications necessary for its entry into force became a reality. This meant that the Statute could enter into force on 1 July 2002.

Later, I was responsible for negotiating the agreement between the United Nations and Sierra Leone on the Special Court, which was signed in Freetown on 16 January 2002, and the agreement between the United Nations and Cambodia on the Extraordinary Chambers, which was signed in Phnom Penh on 6 June 2003.

It is against this background that it is such a pleasure for me to welcome you, Judge Eboe-Osuji, to deliver your lecture. You have been deeply involved in the work of some of these organs before you assumed your full time duty as a Judge of the ICC on 16 March 2012.

Judge Eboe-Osuji is a national of Nigeria. There he received his LLB degree from the University of Calabar. He also has an LLM degree from McGill University in Canada and a PhD degree from the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

He was called to the Bar in British Columbia, Canada, in 1982, to the Bar in Nigeria in 1986 and to the Bar in Ontario, Canada, in 1992, which meant that he practiced law as a barrister before different courts in Nigeria and Canada.

Judge Eboe-Osuji taught international criminal law as adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa, Canada, and has an extensive record of legal scholarship and publications. He is the editor-in-chief of the Nigerian Yearbook of International Law and he served as legal expert to Nigeria’s delegation to the ICC-ASP Special Working Group on the Definition of the Crime of Aggression.

Prior to joining the ICC, Judge Eboe-Osuji was the Legal Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He also served as principal appeals counsel for the Prosecution in the Charles Taylor Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and has held several posts at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, including Head of Chambers and Lead Prosecution Trial Counsel.

Since 11 March 2018, Judge Eboe-Osuji is President of the ICC and assigned to the Appeals Division. Earlier he served in the Trial Division.

Dear Judge Eboe-Osuji,

I noted that during your time in the Trial Division you heard questions in the following two cases relating to Kenya: The Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto. That reminded me of the time in 2008-2013 when I was a member of the team assisting the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to support the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation. In February 2008, I was chairman of its Legal Working Group on Governance that elaborated the draft legislation necessary to form a grand coalition government. William Ruto was a member of this working group.

My heart sank when I heard that he was a suspect in one of these cases. Time does not allow that I get into this matter. But I was very troubled by the fact that the manner in which these cases developed forced the prosecutor to withdraw or vacate the charges.

Under all circumstances, late Kofi Annan deserves the greatest respect for bringing the two competing sides together to negotiate and agree to form a coalition government. This agreement was later confirmed in the 2008 Kenya National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which entered into force on 20 March 2008 and would govern the coalition government in the
country for five years.

Dear Judge Eboe-Osuji, you are warmly welcome. The floor is yours!