Gillian Higgins is an international barrister with a specialism in international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Gillian has acted as counsel in a number of high profile cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the trial of a former head of State at the International Criminal Court and the UN ad-hoc International Tribunals. Gillian leads the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row.
Background and Expertise
Gillian undertakes international cases, advisory work, consultancy and training services for governments, international organisations and private clients.
She also lectures on fair trial rights and provides consultancy services to law schools, NGOs and other institutions, which have included the Kurdish Human Rights Project, the State Court of BiH in Sarajevo, the Mike Campbell Foundation and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She has also served as a member of the Steering Committee for Oxfam’s “Lawyers Against Poverty” programme. She is also a trained investigative interviewer with extensive experience handling sensitive witnesses and complex situations. In 2016, she became an accredited civil and commercial mediator with a particular interest in applying her skills in pre and post conflict situations and in the context of sensitive community mediations.
Gillian is a founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau, a group of highly qualified lawyers with unrivalled expertise in international criminal law, international humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law. The Bureau provides advice, consultancy and training services to States, international organisations, international courts and private clients. The Bureau also provides courses and lectures in all aspects of international criminal law, courtroom advocacy and case strategy to Bar Associations, State bodies, private organisations, universities and law schools around the world.
In 2011, Gillian founded ARC which monitors the work of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Tanzania.
Gillian is also the editor and regular contributor to the highly acclaimed International Criminal Law Bureau blog, nominated in 2011 by Lexis Nexis as Blog of the Year.
Chambers and Partners
“Noted by sources for her strong work ethic and knowledge of international criminal law…she maintains a particularly strong affiliation with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights … Utterly fantastic.” “She is very prominent, extremely hard- working and known as a very committed person who has done very well in all of her cases.” 
“Experienced at defending individuals in international criminal trials and particularly well regarded for her advocacy skills. She has substantial experience in relation to matters connected with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.” Strengths: “She is very good in court, very effective and has an extremely good reputation.” “She is absolutely top-notch.” 
Egypt 2015 – 2016
Member of the team led by Steven Kay QC and commissioned by the Egyptian State Litigation Authority to write a series of reports upon the relationship of the State with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that were distributed internationally.
The Prosecutor v Uhuru Kenyatta, from 2013 – 2015
International Criminal Court
Gillian Higgins represented President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya as Co-Counsel before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. International Criminal Court proceedings were commenced in December 2010 alleging that President Kenyatta had a leading role in the post-election violence of 2007-2008 in respect of which he was charged with crimes against humanity. At the confirmation of charges hearing, the Defence challenged the Prosecution’s case theory comprehensively and called President Kenyatta to give evidence in his own defence. In December 2014, the charges were finally withdrawn by the Prosecution, having admitted there was an insufficiency of evidence upon which to proceed to trial. Gillian was responsible as Co-Counsel for drafting submissions, oral advocacy, legal research, managing team members, deciding upon matters of case strategy with Lead Counsel and ensuring an effective defence for President Kenyatta.
Sri Lanka 2014-2015
Member of the team led by Steven Kay QC, commissioned to draft submissions to the OISL of the UNHCHR on behalf of 3 Sri Lankan NGOs on the 30 year conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) that resulted in the final defeat of the LTTE in 2009. The team submitted detailed reports upon various aspects of the conflict, supported by evidence from open sources.
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2013
Project to challenge, on behalf of the Virunga National Park in DRC, a UK FTSE 200 company, prospecting for oil and gas in the famous UNESCO heritage site and home to the last species of mountain gorillas. This matter involved consideration of international environmental law, the national laws of DRC and national laws governing the company involved.
The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak, ICTY, 2007-11
Gillian was instructed as Co-Counsel for Ivan Cermak who was acquitted of all charges in 2011. This case has been described as the most important trial in the history of Croatia and concerned the prosecution of Mr. Gotovina, Mr. Cermak and Mr. Markac in respect of the military action that resulted in the liberation of the Croatian territories from the RSK. She was responsible for drafting key motions, conducting legal research, investigations, courtroom advocacy and assisting Lead Counsel with matters of case strategy.
The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic, ICTY, 2002-2005
From 2001, Gillian was instructed as Legal Consultant to the Amici Curiae in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on 66 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. She was appointed as Amica Curiae from 27 June 2003 with Steven Kay QC. From September 2004, she was appointed as Court Assigned Defence Counsel with Steven Kay QC. The trial concerned the wars of the 1990s waged in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia by the Serbian forces and was the largest international criminal trial of its kind.
Osmanoglu v Turkey, European Court Of Human Rights, 2008
This Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) assisted case concerned alleged breaches of Articles 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Applicant who was a Turkish national of Kurdish origin alleged that his son was taken into police custody and subsequently disappeared. Gillian was instructed as counsel by KHRP. The judgment was issued on 24 January 2008.
The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana, ICTR, 2000-2002
Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze were co- accused in a trial concerning the responsibility of the media for genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The case came to be known as ‘The Media Trial’. Ferdinand Nahimana was a professor of history and had acted as Director of ORINFOR (Rwandan Office of Information) between 1990 and 1992. All three individuals were charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity (persecution, extermination). Gillian was engaged as a member of the Defence team with responsibilities for advocacy, drafting, research and investigations in Rwanda and beyond.
The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, ICTR, 1999-2000, 2016-2017
This was the first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide. Gillian was engaged as a member of this Defence team, the first to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations. She was instructed with Steven Kay QC in 2016 to act as pro bono counsel in the event of future review proceedings. She is currently engaged in drafting disclosure motions and seeking a potential review.
- Head of the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row from 2016
- Founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau, (www.internationallawbureau.com) Founder of ARC (www.arcproject.co.uk)
- Legal consultant for the Defence Support Section of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, March-April 2007 Member of a Fact-Finding Mission for the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) and the European Parliament investigating the increase of suicides among Kurdish women in Turkey, January 2007
- Legal Consultant to the Office of Defence Counsel (OKO) in Sarajevo, August-October 2006
- Legal Advisor to the KHRP – Trial Observation work for the KHRP in relation to the HADEP trial, Ankara, Turkey, April 1998
Training and Lecturing
- Trainer in civil and commercial mediation for the London School of Mediation, 2017 International Bar Association at The Belgrade International Law Conference
- The German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwalt Verein) The Dutch Bar Association (OSR Juridische Opleidingen) Leiden University, The Hague Campus, Holland Commonwealth Lawyers Association Indiana University, Faculty of Law, USA
- The Association of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia The National University of Ireland, Human Rights Institute, Galway, Ireland Graduate School of Law, Riga, Latvia
- University of Salzburg, Faculty of Law Exeter University, Faculty of Law Bar of Sarajevo OSCE, Macedonia
- International Bar Association, Training Cambodian lawyers in aspects of international criminal law, Phnom Penh, Cambodia Northwestern University, Chicago
- Higgins, G, and Shane, M, ‘The Intoxication Defence and Theories of Criminal Liability’, The Addiction Research Foundation (ADR), 1999 Higgins, G, ‘Life Beyond the Crown Court Grind’, The Times, 11 October 2005 Higgins, G, ‘The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial’, special edition, Crim. L. F., 2006
- Higgins, G, ‘Fair and Expeditious Pre-Trial Proceedings: The Future of International Criminal Trials’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2007 Higgins, G, Oxford Companion to International Criminal Law, Entries on The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic and The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana, Oxford University Press’, 2009
- Higgins, G, ‘The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial and the development of Rule 73bis before the ICTY’, Northwestern University Law Review, 2009
- Higgins, G, ‘The Development of the Right to Self-Representation before the International Criminal Tribunals’, chapter in Judicial Creativity at the International Criminal Tribunals, edited by Shane Darcy and Joe Powderly, Oxford University Press, 2011
- Higgins, G, ‘Examination-in-Chief and Cross-Examination’, chapter in Transferring War Crimes Cases From the ICTY, UNICRI, 2011 Higgins, G, Book Review: ‘Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’ by Daniel H Joyner published by Oxford University Press, published at www.iclb.eu; www.9bedfordrow.co.uk, 2012
- Blog editor and publisher for the International Criminal Law Bureau – to date Blog editor and publisher for ARC – to date
Memberships and Positions
- Member of the List of Counsel at the International Criminal Court, The Hague
- Member of the Steering Committee for Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty Programme from 2015-2016
- Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator, 2016
- Investigative Interviewer – Accredited Course, Part 1, 2016 (Intersol Global)
- Former Member of the Disciplinary Panel of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
- Registered Pupil Supervisor, Bar Council
- Voluntary Youth Worker, Sylvia Beaufroy Centre, Petworth, from 2016 to present
- Grays’ Inn
- Trinity Hall Alumni, Cambridge University
- French (fluent spoken)
Gillian Higgins est un membre du Bureau s’occupant d’affaires de droit international. Elle est consultée et fournit conseil et formation à des gouvernements, des organisations internationales et des particuliers. Elle a représenté plusieurs individus accusés de génocide, de crimes de guerre et de crimes contre l’humanité, y compris un ancien chef d’Etat, devant les juridictions ad hoc à La Haye et Arusha. Elle a participe a de nombreuses conférences notamment sur des thèmes lies au procès equitable ; elle a été consultée par des ONGs et d’autres institutions, y compris le “Kurdish Human Rights Project”, la Cour d’Etat de Bosnie-Herzégovine et les Chambres Extraordinaires au sein des Tribunaux Cambodgiens. Elle a aussi participé à la formation continue dans le cadre d’associations d’avocats et d’universités dans le domaine du droit pénal international.
Gillian Higgins, Mitglied der Kanzlei, übernimmt internationale rechtliche Fälle und bietet Auskünfte, Beratungen und Training für Regierungen, Internationale Organisationen und private Klienten an. Sie hat mehrfach Klienten vertreten, die wegen Völkermordes, Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit und Kriegsverbrechen an den Ad-hoc-Tribunalen in den Den Haag und Tansania angeklagt waren. Unter anderem hat sie auch ein ehemaliges Staatsoberhaupt vertreten. Sie hat umfangreich die Rechte auf ein faires Verfahren gelehrt und hat Beratungen für NGOs und andere Institutionen, einschließlich dem Kurdischen Menschenrechtsprojekt, dem Staatsgerichtshof von Bosnien-Herzegowina in Sarajevo und den Außerordentlichen Kammern an den kambodschanischen Gerichtshöfen, angeboten.
Gillian Higgins es un miembro del Bureau emprendiendo casos legales internacionales, también proporcionando servicios de consejería, consultoría y capacitación para gobiernos, organizaciones internacionales y clientes privados. Gillian ha representado varios individuos acusados de genocidio, crímenes contra la humanidad y crímenes de guerra, incluyendo a un ex-Jefe de Estado ante los tribunales ad-hoc en La Haya. Ella ha dado extensivas conferencias en los derechos de un juicio justo y ha proporcionado consultoría para organizaciones no gubernamentales y otras instituciones, incluyendo el Proyecto Kurdo para los Derechos Humanos, la Corte de Estado del BIH en Sarajevo y las Cámaras Extraordinarias en las Cortes de Cambodia. Gillian también ha proporcionado capacitación para varios colegios de abogados en Europa en aspectos de derecho penal internacional.
Gillian Higgins é un membro del Bureau che si occupa di casi legali a livello internazionale, garantisce consulenza ed assistenza legale nonché formazione professionale a governi, organizzazioni internazionali ed a singoli individui. Gillian ha rappresentato diverse personalitá, fra cui ex capi di stato, accusate di genocidio, crimini contro l’umanitá e crimini di guerra avanti i tribunali penali internazionali ad hoc all’Aja ed in Tanzania. Ha svolto diverse lezioni sui diritti del giusto processo e fornito consulenza ad ONG ed altre instituzioni fra cui il Kurdish Human Rights Project, la Corte di Stato della Bosnia Erzegoivina e le Camere Straordinarie per la Cambogia. Ha inoltre realizzato corsi di formazione professionale su diversi aspetti del diritto internazionale penale presso diversi Consigli dell’Ordine ed universitá in Europa.