Atrocity prevention is of utmost importance. But in situations where these crimes have already taken place, their prosecution is also imperative. There is a global consensus that there should be no impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
The MLA Initiative emerged after an expert meeting organized by the Netherlands, Belgium, and Slovenia confirmed a legal gap in the mutual legal assistance and extradition between States for the national adjudication of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Given the nature of these crimes, with suspects, victims, witnesses, and evidence often crossing the States’ borders, ensuring effective international legal cooperation at the global level is paramount. This legal gap hampers the ability of States to cooperate effectively in the fight against impunity. The core group of States leading the Initiative was later enlarged to include Argentina, Senegal, and Mongolia.
Some existing multilateral treaties contain modern provisions on mutual legal assistance and extradition, e.g., the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption. The MLA Initiative advocates for the adoption of a multilateral treaty that would provide similar inter-State cooperation mechanisms. The Initiative addresses the primary responsibility of States to prosecute atrocity crimes and the need to improve the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of these crimes at the national level. That is why the core group proposes the creation of a modern procedural multilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance and extradition, which would facilitate better practical cooperation between States investigating and prosecuting these crimes – the MLA initiative. During this briefing, Quirien van Straelen will provide insight into the background of the Initiative and the current process towards opening diplomatic negotiations.