British lawyer Karim Ahmad Khan who has handled high-profile cases including representing Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, is the new International Criminal Court (ICC).
Khan, 50, a specialist in International Criminal law and International human rights law previously led a special UN probe into crimes by the Islamic State extremist group in which he pressed for a trial on the lines of Nuremberg for Nazi war criminals.
More controversially, he also represented late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam and is also remembered for representing Kenya’s Deputy president Ruto whose charges were dropped by incumbent prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Khan will be only the third prosecutor of the ICC, taking over in June, 2021 from Gambian-born Fatou Bensouda, who has outraged Washington through her investigations into the Afghanistan war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict leading to sanctions against her.
ICC nations failed to reach a consensus choice, triggering a vote in New York among four candidates in which Khan won on the second ballot with 72 votes.
In the first round, he did not win a majority but narrowly edged out Ireland’s Fergal Gaynor, who has represented victims before the ICC in the Afghan war investigation and in a case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The United Nations has 193 member states but only 123 are in the ICC, with the United States, Israel, China and Russia notably absent.
Khan will take on a bulging file of difficult cases at a tribunal whose legitimacy is constantly under attack.
“There are many places where the ICC could take action,” one UN envoy said Friday on condition of anonymity, adding he hoped the voting would not stretch over several days.
“We don’t need less ICC but more ICC,” he said.