Hybrid Event (in-person and online) – Policy Paper Launch – Challenging Impunity: Why Australia Needs a Permanent, Specialised International Crimes Unit – Thursday 28 September 2023, 6.00pm arrival for a 6.30pm start (AEST)


Event Details

Type: Hybrid event, held concurrently in-person and online.

Date: Thursday 28 September 2023.

Time: For in-person attendees, arrive from 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start (AEST). The building will not be accessible after 7.00pm. For online attendees, the webinar will commence at 6.30pm.

Location: For in-person attendees, the event will be kindly hosted by Baker McKenzie in their offices at Tower One – International Towers Sydney, Level 46, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney, NSW 2000. Drinks and nibbles will be provided from 6.00pm. Hardcopy versions of the policy paper will also be available.

For online attendees, a Zoom link will be sent on registration.

Registration: Required for both in-person and online attendees. Closes on 14 September 2023 for in-person attendees. To register, click here.

Cost: Free, however if you would like to donate to support our work, click here.


Event Description

In a world marked by conflict, unrest and serious human rights abuses, survivor communities and the civil society organisations that represent them continue to seek avenues for accountability and justice. One such avenue is international criminal justice, which allows for the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators suspected of committing grave international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. Despite the availability of international criminal law as an accountability mechanism, far too often there is an impunity gap in respect of perpetrators who evade justice in the territories in which atrocities have been committed and are not subject to the jurisdiction of international courts and tribunals.

Is there a way for this impunity gap to be addressed? Yes: through the investigation and prosecution of international crimes, within domestic legal systems, under the principle of universal jurisdiction and other forms of extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Join the Australian Centre for International Justice (‘ACIJ’) for the launch of our policy paper, ‘Challenging Impunity: Why Australia Needs a Permanent, Specialised International Crimes Unit‘. The paper explores the rise in domestic accountability processes for atrocity crimes overseas, and outlines Australia’s chequered history of international crimes investigations. Drawing on research and experience from overseas jurisdictions, the paper advocates for the creation of a permanent, specialised international crimes unit in Australia, and outlines recommendations for the establishment of an effective unit.

The launch event will commence with Opening Remarks from the Hon Justice Mark Ierace, Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. A panel of experts – Rawan Arraf (Principal Lawyer and Executive Director at ACIJ), Sareta Ashraph (International Criminal Law Barrister at Garden Court Chambers), John Ralston (former Executive Director of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations, former Chief Investigator for the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) and Helen Brady (Senior Appeals Counsel and Head of the Appeals Section at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court) will then share their experiences working in international criminal justice and provide reflections on some of the issues discussed in the paper. A Q&A session will follow.


Speaker Biographies

The Hon Justice Mark Ierace: The Hon Justice Mark Ierace is a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He previously served as Senior Public Defender and worked for almost four decades as a criminal law barrister. He has been a Senior Counsel since 1999. As a war crimes prosecutor in the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, he led the team that prosecuted the commander of the Bosnian Serbian forces that perpetrated the siege of Sarajevo.

Rawan Arraf: Rawan Arraf is the Founder, Executive Director and Principal Lawyer at ACIJ. She has ten years of legal experience in refugee protection, administrative law and international human rights law.  Ms Arraf most recently worked as a refugee lawyer at community legal centre, Refugee Advice & Casework Service providing a wide range of protection advice to people seeking asylum in Australia. She is actively engaged with lawyers and organisations working in universal jurisdiction litigation abroad and in 2018 trained with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Berlin, working closely with the International Crimes and Accountability team on universal jurisdiction matters.

Sareta Ashraph: Sareta Ashraph is a barrister specialised in international criminal law and is a Senior Legal Advisor to the Center for Justice & Accountability and to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Ms Ashraph served as Director of Investigations at the UN Investigative Team to promote Accountability for the crimes committed by Da’esh/ISIL (2020-2022); Legal Analyst to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria (2012-2016) and the Commission of Inquiry on Libya (2012-2012); Legal Adviser to the Defence Office of the International Criminal Court (2010-2011); and Defence Co-Counsel before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2003-2009). She lectures at the Geneva Academy on Gender and International Crimes.

John Ralston: John Ralston was the Executive Director of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI) from 2003 to 2016. He remains a member of the IICI Board of Directors. He served for several years as the Chief of Investigations with the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Mr Ralston was a foundation member of the ICTY, joining as an Investigation Team Leader, he was responsible for establishing the tribunal’s first investigations and preparing its standard operating procedures. In 2014 he was the Chair of the International Crimes Evidence Project that examined alleged crimes in the closing stages of the war in Sri Lanka. A former homicide detective in Australia, he spent several years investigating Nazi war criminals for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Special Investigations Unit. In 2004-5 he served as Chief Investigator for the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry for Darfur, Sudan. He also spent four years leading organised crime investigations and criminal asset recovery actions with the NSW Crime Commission.

Helen BradyHelen Brady is the Senior Appeals Counsel and Head of the Appeals and Prosecution Legal Coordination Section in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She has held senior roles in international courts and tribunals, the ICC, ICTY and STL, for 24 years. She has led the prosecution in hundreds of interlocutory and final appeals and litigated in multiple cases before the ICC, ICTY and ICTR. Previously she worked at the ODPP (NSW) and in law firms. A member of the Australian delegation to the ICC negotiations, Ms Brady was a negotiator and drafter of the ICC’s statute, procedural rules and elements of crimes. She has taught at ANU and Sydney University, trained judges and lawyers in international and domestic war crimes courts, and written and spoken widely on international criminal law.


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