British lawyer Karim Khan assumed his duties today, Wednesday, as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, succeeding Gambian Fatou Bensouda, inaugurating a complex task that includes the controversial investigation into Israeli violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, and other investigation files.
Karim Khan, 51, who was sworn in today to formally assume office for a nine-year term, has pledged to improve performance by referring only cases with strong arguments to trial. Khan was elected Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court last February in New York by the signatories to the Rome Statute.
Khan was a lawyer and a human rights specialist before being chosen as the prosecutor of the court, holding the position of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was assigned to lead the United Nations investigation into the crimes of the Islamic State. The man also defended several personalities before the International Criminal Court, especially Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the leader. Former Libyan Muammar Gaddafi.
Great Power Opposition
The new attorney general will face the opposition of major powers that refused to join the court, led by the United States and China, although Karim Khan can benefit from the presence of a less confrontational US administration than the administration of former President Donald Trump, who imposed sanctions on Fatou Bensouda, after it decided to consider allegations US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Karsten Stein, professor of international criminal law at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said that “the International Criminal Court is at a crucial stage” after it faced many criticisms because it was not “at the level of effectiveness that the states parties would have desired.”
Shatan added that the court’s investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian file remains “politically charged.” Britain, a member of the court, opposed the investigation into this case.
Former Prosecutor General Bensouda, who held the post for nine years, was praised for expanding the scope of the ICC, although she has also faced failures in cases such as that of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo.
Since its establishment in 2002, the International Criminal Court has indicted five men for war crimes and crimes against humanity, all of whom are militia leaders in Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Uganda. Sentences ranged from nine to 30 years in prison, and prosecutors dropped at least three major cases, or failed to gather enough evidence in other cases to proceed with trial.