British lawyer Karim Khan was sworn in on Wednesday as the new Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Khan, 51, was elected to the position in February. He took over from Fatou Bensouda, whose nine-year term ended Tuesday.
“The priority for me, and I believe that’s the principle of the Rome Statute, is not to focus so much on where trials take place, but to ensure that the quest for accountability and inroads on impunity are made,” Khan said on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press, in his first speech after taking his oath of office. He was referring to the treaty that founded the court.
“The Hague itself should be a city of last resort,” he said. “Wherever possible, we should be trying to have trials in the country or in the region.”
Khan said he wanted to work with countries that are not among the court’s 123 member states to achieve justice. The United States, Russia and China are not members and do not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
One of the issues he will have to deal with is the ICC probe of alleged Israeli “war crimes” in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Khan’s election in February exactly one week after the ICC ruled that Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem are within its jurisdiction, paving the way for a probe.
Israel had reportedly worked hard behind the scenes to try and bring about the election of Khan due to the fact he is considered pragmatic when it comes to the role of the ICC, and seeks less politicization.