What’s in the “MLA” Treaty?

It was not easy to bring attention and interest to what was going on Ljubjana, Slovenia, early June. Some state representatives and experts and NGOs had gathered to finalize the text of a new potential international convention: the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty – or MLAT. But it was hard to understand why it was really important and what added value this treaty would bring to what already exists or is in the making. In this podcast, Vaios Koutroulis, professor of public international law at Université Libre de Bruxelles and a member of the Belgium delegation at the MLAT negotiations, and Raquel Saveedra, a legal adviser at the International Commission of Jurists who attended the talks, manage to share passionately about this legal stuff. So what is the MLAT about? What gap does it attempt to fill? Why would it be a useful tool for prosecutors and judges dealing with international crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression, torture and enforced disappearances? How does it compare to the Crimes Against Humanity Treaty that is currently being negotiated at the UN?
The MLA Treaty is open to signature next year. Which states are bound to sign up? And how many are needed for the convention to enter into force? Here is all what you want to know, should you need it.

MLA Treaty (or MLAT) - Picture of a worlwide network
1 min 49Approximate reading time

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There is a new treaty in town! The new Ljubljana-The Hague Convention, or MLA Treaty, aims to bring swifter justice to those alleged of the most serious international crimes. This week we look at how the new convention came about and what it aims to do.

With a focus on international cooperation and accountability, the new MLA treaty aims to fill a gap in international law by obliging states to assist each other in cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The first major international treaty on international criminal law since the ICC’s 1998 Rome Statue, it has a particular focus on victims’ rights and allows for extradition and mutual legal assistance in the collection of evidence and the interviewing of witnesses.

Ten years in the making, it is expected to be ratified in The Hague in early 2024. Initiated by a core group of states including the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Argentina, Senegal and Mongolia, it was adopted by over 70 countries in Ljiblijana in May this year.

We sat down to chat with two people involved in the shaping of this newly adopted convention, Raquel Saavedra from the International Commission of Jurists and Vaios Koutroulis from Université Libre de Bruxelles.

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This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between JusticeInfo.net and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.