Karim Ahmed Khan, a British-Pakistan lawyer, Wednesday took oath as new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a pledge to contact the states that are not among the members of the court in his quest to end impunity for atrocities and to try to conduct trials in countries where crimes are committed.
The 51-year-old lawyer, who has vast experience in international courts as a prosecutor and defense attorney, has replaced Fatou Bensouda of Gambia after her nine-year tenure ended Tuesday.
The appointment of Karim Khan comes at a time when ICC is probing a number of sensitive cases including war cime allegations in Afghanistan and atrocities by Israeli forces in occupied Palestinian territory.
Trump administration had earlier opposed decisions made by Khan’s predecessor regarding launching an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
“The priority for me, and I believe that’s the principle of the Rome Statute, is not to focus so much on where trials take place, but to ensure that the quest for accountability and inroads on impunity are made,” Khan said in his maiden speech after taking his oath of office.
“The Hague itself should be a city of last resort,” he said. “Wherever possible, we should be trying to have trials in the country or in the region.”
Khan said that he wanted to reach out to countries that are not among the court’s 123 member states to achieve justice. World powers such as the United States, Russia and China do not recongise the jurisdiction of the international court.
“My conviction is that we can find common ground in the quest and in the imperative to ensure we eradicate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Khan said.
Recently, Khan led a United Nations team probing atrocities in Iraq by the Islamic State terrorists.