British QC was chosen as the new chief prosecutor for the international criminal court in an election by 131 member states of the court at the DAs in New York. Karim Khan replaces Fatou Bensouda from The Gambia, and as he begins his nine-year term he has a difficult job trying to get more convictions and spread acceptance of court jurisdiction across the globe.
The secret ballot for the post was the first in court history – and took place amid some controversy and high-profile politics between member states.
Khan, 50, defeated candidates from Ireland, Spain and Italy to win the second round of voting with the support of 72 countries – 10 more than the required 62.
Khan was called to the England bar in 1992, and has pledged to revamp the shooter’s office to make it more efficient. He is credited as a tough, smart advocate, and was appointed in 2018 by the DA’s secretary general, António Guterres, to investigate the DA’s team investigating international crimes committed by Isis.
The first action of the third prosecutor in the ICC’s short history will be to try to obtain more convictions and thus increase the legitimacy of the court among the many member states that refuse to recognize its sovereignty – into the US, Russia and China. The court has also challenged suspicion in Africa as leaders from that continent continue to grow as one focus of the Hague-based court.
Karim was not shortlisted for the post from the outset and was partially added when the Kenyan government intervened. Karim had controversially been a defense adviser for Kenya’s vice president, William Ruto, when he was charged with crimes against humanity following post-election violence in 2007 that resulted in the killing of 1,200 people.
The allegations were dropped in 2016 by the ICC after what were described as “tragic incidents of evidence-breaking and intolerable political anxiety”. One key witness was assassinated in December 2014. Khan recently wrote an open letter outlining how he had done everything possible to prevent fear of ensuring that the person was placed under the protection of cargo. -evidence, and then seek research.
Earlier this week it looked as if Khan had been chosen by consensus, the ICC’s preferred method of recruitment, when last-minute protests erupted from Spain and Mauritius.
The protests came from Mauritius with less focus on Karim as an individual, but were cited by the British government. Mauritius had been kidnapped by UK ministers for the second time saying it did not need to abide by the UN international courts ruling in the controversy over the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Karim needs to decide what the next steps are in the investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan, and the controversial study of the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. The European Parliament this week called for a worldwide ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, also calling for an ICC criminal investigation into the civil war in Yemen.
The administration of then-US President Donald Trump, Bensouda and other ICC chiefs hit last year with sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes over the investigation, which led to U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan.
Israel – which is also not a member of the ICC – has strongly opposed the investigation of alleged war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups.
The ICC judges, however, ruled last week that the court had jurisdiction over Palestine, paving the way for a full investigation after a five-year initial investigation opened by Bensouda.
Bensouda has recently received a high-profile conviction against a Ugandan child soldier turned head of the Resistance Army Lord Dominic Ongwen, and Congolese warlord Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda.