The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law: Shining a light on a critical human rights protection – Prof. Philippa Webb (King’s College London)
The right to a fair trial is a right that enables the recognition and protection of many other human rights. Its violation can be devastating to an individual defendant, but also damaging to entire societies as unfair trials are used to undermine democracy and oppress minorities. Although the right to a fair trial has been included in all international and regional human rights instruments since the Second World War and 173 states parties to the ICCPR have pledged to uphold it, the international standard for a fair trial can be elusive. Based on my book with Amal Clooney, The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law (OUP, Summer 2020), I will shine a light on certain aspects of this fundamental human right. We have attempted to explain, in granular detail, the meaning of the right to a fair trial, drawing on how the right has been applied by international bodies including United Nations committees, regional human rights courts and commissions, and international criminal courts. I will discuss the status of the right in international law, consider who enjoys the right apart from the defendant, and examine divergences in the case law on certain components of the right and potential methods of harmonisation.
Philippa Webb is Professor of Public International Law at King’s College London. She specialises in international dispute settlement, human rights, the immunities of states, international organisations and diplomats, and the law of treaties. Prior to joining King’s, Philippa held positions in the Presidency of the International Court of Justice, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, and United Nations Headquarters. She is on the boards of the European Society of International Law, the Leiden Journal of International Law and the Journal of International Criminal Justice. Her publications include The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law (with Amal Clooney, OUP, Summer 2020), Oppenheim’s International Law: United Nations (with Dame Rosalyn Higgins GBE QC, Dapo Akande, Sandy Sivamuaran and James Sloan, OUP 2017), and The Law of State Immunity (with Lady Hazel Fox QC, OUP 2015).