Fiji lawyer Ana Tuiketei Bolabiu has become the first Pacific counsel on a global roster working for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

Her admission to a cadre of more than 800 senior legal practitioners from all corners of the globe was confirmed last week, and her profile and biographical details will be added to the ICC online database this month.

Ms Bolabiu, a Suva based former prosecutor, accepted an offer to be an addition to the ICC list of duty counsels.

“I was excited,” she said Bolabiu of the news of her admission. “I just thought ‘what a boost for the Pacific. What a boost for women lawyers, and yes, because I’m a product of the University of the South Pacific.”

Ms Bolabiu looked through the list of counsel online.

“There’s lawyers on that list from all over the world, from Australia and New Zealand, but it’s quite interesting that almost two decades later, a lawyer from the developing Pacific is now listed.”

The former USP student said the historic milestone wasn’t something she thought about going into the application process. She gave the application process a try, and found a working history covering lots of diversity, including internships with the SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team, training and networking, as well as becoming Fiji’s youngest lawyer working the Supreme Court.

Ms Bolabiu also brought a world of experience on top of management roles in the Office of the Prosecutor and her own legal consulting business.

But why a 20 year wait for the Pacific on the ICC Counsel list?

“Maybe it’s about being so far away. It’s not the first thing to click in any law student or legal worker’s mind.”

Ms Bolabiu said she was keen to see more Pacific lawyers put their hands up to serve at the Hague.

She said given the sign off from Pacific nations in the founding papers of the International Criminal Court system, it was an open doorway to Pacific ownership of a global court, “and I’m able to be a part of it now. I only wish that others had gone before me, that we had been here earlier- but it’s not too late! I’m just the first, there are many more to come!”


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