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Late April 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched the new
version of the Legal Tools, an online library on international criminal
law and justice which will empower victims and others who seek a judicial
response to atrocities by providing a central vehicle to obtain
information on international criminal law.

The Legal Tools amount to a knowledge-transfer platform for international
criminal and human rights law made freely available to the general public
through the website of the ICC. The Legal Tools Database is the most
comprehensive on international criminal law. It contains more than 40,000
documents, including decisions and indictments from all international or
internationalised criminal tribunals, preparatory works of the ICC, case
documents from the ICC, treaties, information about national legal
systems, and relevant decisions from national courts. The service also
contains a new knowledge-base on national legislation implementing the ICC
Statute.

The Legal Tools were designed and developed in the Legal Advisory Section
of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor by Morten Bergsmo and his team, while
a network of outsourcing partners are collecting and registering the
documents, metadata and keywords in the Legal Tools Database: the
Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (University of Oslo), the Human Rights
Law Centre (University of Nottingham), the International Research and
Documentation Centre for War Crimes (University of Marburg), the Institute
of International Law and International Relations (University of Graz), the
T.M.C. Asser Institute, the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation
of Law, and Trial. The Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre has developed
the knowledge-base on implementing legislation. The Institute of
Informatics and Law (University of Saarbrücken) has technically
implemented the Legal Tools Database and Website.

The Legal Tools can be accessed through this web page:
http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Legal+Texts+and+Tools/.

Here are some initial statements about the new Legal Tools:

Christopher K. Hall, Senior Legal Adviser, International Justice Project
of Amnesty International:

“Each of the components of the Legal Tools will be an immensely important
contribution to the struggle for international justice. National
prosecutors, defence lawyers, representatives of victims and
non-governmental organizations working in the field of international
justice will soon find that they cannot do without it.”

Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program, Human
Rights Watch:

“The ICC Legal Tools provide free and immediate access to a wealth of
information on international criminal law and justice. The project holds
the potential to be the leading information provider in the area of
international criminal law. It is very significant that the Legal Tools
are offered on a public platform of an international organization such as
the ICC. This means that the Legal Tools services are fully accessible
also to lawyers and others in materially less resourceful countries that
may suffer from conflicts and atrocities.”

Klaus Rackwitz, former German judge, Senior Administrative Manager, ICC
Office of the Prosecutor and Chair of the ICC Legal Tools Advisory
Committee:

“Access to legal information is essential for the quality and efficacy of
all legal processes. It is therefore very significant that the ICC – after
only a few years of operation – is in a position to offer free access to a
unique knowledge-base on international criminal law. I think this is one
of the most successful projects of the ICC to date.”

Morten Bergsmo, architect of the Legal Tools, former Head of the Legal
Advisory Section, ICC Office of the Prosecutor, currently Senior
Researcher, PRIO:

“Huge sums are every year invested in the acquisition and development of
weapon systems. Hardly any resources have been invested in innovative
approaches to effective documentation, investigation and prosecution of
unlawful use of such weapons in armed conflict. The Legal Tools Project
draws on technology to strengthen the hand of those who seek to bring the
law to the worst atrocities committed in conflicts. It puts innovation in
the service of justice. It is worth trying this approach.”

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