[Thanks to Emilie Hunter, Research and Programmes Coordinator at the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre for drawing our attention to this:]
Everybody who has worked with international criminal law and/or the Internetional Criminal Court has probably encountered the so-called Legal Tools of the ICC. The Legal Tools is basically a collection of ‘legal information, commentaries and an application to work more effectively with core international crimes cases‘. In late April a new version of the Legal Tools was launched and it seems to have involved into a very helpful resource for extensive and up-to-date material on the ICC. Below is a statement from the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre, which is involved in the Legal Tools Project of the ICC:
The ICC launches knowledge-transfer platform: the new version of the Legal Tools
Late April 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched the new version of the Legal Tools, an online library on international criminal law and justice which will empower victims and others who seek a judicial response to atrocities by providing a central vehicle to obtain information on international criminal law.
The Legal Tools amount to a knowledge-transfer platform for international criminal and human rights law made freely available to the general public through the website of the ICC. The Legal Tools Database is the most comprehensive on international criminal law. It contains more than 40,000 documents, including decisions and indictments from all international or internationalised criminal tribunals, preparatory works of the ICC, case documents from the ICC, treaties, information about national legal systems, and relevant decisions from national courts. The service also contains a new knowledge-base on national legislation implementing the ICC Statute.
The Legal Tools were designed and developed in the Legal Advisory Section of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor by Morten Bergsmo and his team, while a network of outsourcing partners are collecting and registering the documents, metadata and keywords in the Legal Tools Database: the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (University of Oslo), the Human Rights Law Centre (University of Nottingham), the International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (University of Marburg), the Institute of International Law and International Relations (University of Graz), the T.M.C. Asser Institute, the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law and TRIAL (Track Impunity Always). The Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre has developed the knowledge-base on implementing legislation. The EEAR (European academy of eJustice) is responsible for technical implementation of the Legal Tools Database and Website.
The Legal Tools can be accessed through this web page:
As an advocate of implementing legislation, I was very excited to see the Legal Tools finally being launched. We struggle every day to find the latest of legislation and literally have to go recur to more than 10 different websites and publications that go very easily outdated.
Unfortunatelly the Legal Tools so far, in the past week of using them have again disappointed me.
This comments focuses on the section on implementing legislation that is almost empty, and contains only the handful of European countries that implemented before 2003. Missing are development in the past years in several countries especially the Latin American ones, and Africa.
I hope is just a glitch in the system, or a work in progress yet, I can not but share my disappointment for what needs to be the ultimate and reliable source of existing legislation.
I wonder how much more time will it take to have that fundamental database ready. Without accurate access to the legislation that currently exists compiling as well the comments issued by experts and NGOs on the quality of the legislation it would be very difficult to advance towards the creation of true system of international law where domestic jurisdictions are enabled to cooperate and to exercise its jurisdiction for the most serious crimes.
As someone who has been intimately involved in the creation of ‘National Implementing Legislation Database’ (NILD), I would suggest that users of this function of the Legal Tools utilise both folders on the National Implementing Legislation tree, by visiting the page ‘Access to the Tools’ http://www.legal-tools.org/en/terms-and-conditions-of-use/forPage/%252Fen%252Faccess-to-the-tools%252F/ :
States: this folder currently provides 132 laws from the 46 countries that have implemented the Statute, as documents, which have been implemented between 2000 and 2007. Legislation is gathered through a rigorous process, as set out in the operational protocol of the outsourcing partners, and will only be included on the Legal Tools once it has been officially communicated by the State to the ICC, or sourced via a State’s official website or Gazette.
National Implementing Legislation Database: the greatest strength of the National Implementing Legislation section of the Legal Tools lies in the creation of this database, where legislation is broken down into paragraphs (‘spans’) which have been individually tagged with approximately 800 purposely designed keywords, thus facilitating a number of different searches, in an unprecedented manner.
Further information on the development of this section of the Legal Tools can be found on the first screen of the National Implementing Legislation Database folder, and I include it here for readers of this blog:
* Phase 1 has already been completed. It covers the ICC acts (including ICC crimes and cooperation) of the following States: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Lichtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Samoa, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
* Phase 2 will cover ICC acts (including ICC crimes and cooperation) of the following States: Georgia, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand.
* Phase 3 will add national criminal codes, criminal procedure codes and other relevant legislation. It will also extend coverage to the following States: Argentina, Armenia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
* Phase 4 (rolling) will provide searches by national implementation keyword, by ICC Statute article, and combinations thereof.
At this stage, the NILD folder and its search functions will include only laws sourced in the above way that are in English- the next step will be to develop a French language version in order to ensure that both working languages of the Court are reflected in NILD: this is to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the NILD, in what is its first two years of creation. Other languages, particularly Spanish, are important and have not been overlooked in the planning of NILD.
The Legal Tools Project relies on people such our distinguished colleague above who are prepared to contribute any additional materials for inclusion in any aspect of the Legal Tools, including NILD. A dedicated e-mail account has been set up in that respect: email@example.com