Michael G. Karnavas is an American trained lawyer.  He is licensed in Alaska and Massachusetts and is
qualified to appear before the various international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court (
ICC).
Residing and practicing primarily in The Hague, he is recognized as an expert in international criminal defence,
including, pre-trial, trial, and appellate advocacy.
Michael G. Karnavas
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL
DEFENCE LAWYER
Practice Areas

  • Litigation
  • Criminal Defence (USA)
  • International Criminal Defence
  • Public International Law
  • Trial and Appellant Consultant in Complex Litigation
  • Immigration and Extradition
  • International Development / Rule of Law
News and Events

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia published a report by Michael G. Karnavas titled “Proposals
for Building the Training Capacity of the Academy of the Bar Association of Serbia: A Strategic Plan for Continuous Legal Education for the Coming
2-3 Years”. The Report analyzes and assesses the training needs of Serbian lawyers and the training capacities of the Attorney’s Academy of the Bar
Association of Serbia.  Based on the assessment, the Report provides specific proposals for reform and improvement of the institutional and
regulatory framework of the Academy, and recommends a detailed program for the organization of the training activities and a strategic Continuous
Legal Education plan for 2-3 years.

On 24 February 2017, the Edward Elgar Publishing published a chapter co-authored by Kate Gibson, John RWD Jones QC, Michael G. Karnavas
and Melinda Taylor, titled “Regulation of the International Bar: The Particular Challenges for Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Courts
and Tribunals” in Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals (William A. Schabas and Shannonbrooke Murphy eds., 2017). This
chapter examines and evaluates the different structures (independent, internal and external) protecting and regulating the defence profession at the
various international and mixed criminal courts and tribunals, and identifies defects and lacunae in the current infrastructure.

In November-December 2016, Michael G. Karnavas was selected by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to
Serbia as the International Consultant to make an assessment and submit a report with specific proposals for reform and improvement of the
institutional and regulatory framework of the Attorney’s Academy (Academy) of the Bar Association of Serbia (BAS), and to recommend a detailed
program for the organization of the training activities and a strategic plan for a long term (2-3 years) Continuing Legal Education program.  The BAS
is a national “umbrella” bar for eight regional bars with approx. 8000 members. The BAS established the Academy in 2013 for the purpose of
providing professional training for Serbian lawyers and trainees.  As part of the assessment, Mr. Karnavas went on two field visits (5-7 December
and 18-21 December 2016) to conduct a series of interviews with the representatives of the BAS, the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Academy,
civil societies, and NGOs. Mr. Karnavas submitted a preliminary report 29 December 2016.

On 26 November 2016, International Criminal Law Review published an article by Michael G. Karnavas, Defence Counsel Ethics, the ICC Code of
Conduct and Establishing a Bar Association for ICC List Counsel (International Criminal Law Review, Volume 16, Issue 6, pages 1048 - 1116
(2016).)   This article is based on Michael G. Karnavas’s presentation Lawyer Ethics and the work of the ICC Disciplinary Organs at Maastricht
Seminar for Members of the List of Counsel before the International Criminal Court on 16 & 17 July in Maastricht University, Maastricht, 17 July
2015.  The article analyzes the Defence Counsel’s duty to zealously represent their clients: What exactly does it mean to 'zealously represent' a client
before any of the international criminal courts or tribunals? How unproblematic is it for defence counsel to meet their ethical duties? Would an
International Criminal Court (ICC) Bar or professional association for ICC List Counsel and their assistants be of any significance to that end?

On 5 October 2016, Michael G. Karnavas participated in a seminar organized by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights – Cambodia (OHCHR) in cooperation with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC), titled Questioning Techniques from the
Defense’s Perspective and the Use of National and International Law in Legal Arguments. Held in Phnom Penh, this training was part of the Legal
Dialogue Series 2016: a series of trainings organized by the OHCHR as part of its ongoing efforts to support and strengthen the development of
Cambodian legal professionals, including by facilitating the dissemination of skills and knowledge from international and Cambodian lawyers at the
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to Cambodian lawyers practicing in local courts. For more on Michael G. Karnavas’s
presentation, click here.

On 6 July 2016, Michael G. Karnavas conducted a 1,5 hour lecture at the ICTY on the role of the defence before the international criminal
tribunals for a visiting group from the University of Salzburg, Austria.

On 6 July 2016, The Cambodia Daily published a commentary by Michael G. Karnavas on US Senate Appropriations Committee Bill S3117.  The
bill, as explained in the Committee’s Report, seeks to tie US funding of the ECCC to the indictment of Mr. Meas Muth in Case 003. Mr. Karnavas
calls out the bill’s drafters on their disregard for international standards of justice and respect for the rule of law, and for their lack of understanding
of the very procedural rules with which they seek to tamper.

On 20-21 June 2016, Michael G. Karnavas delivered a 16 hour training program on Plea Bargaining and the role of Kazakhstan Procedural
Prosecutors in Astana, Kazakhstan, organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Kazakhstan Prosecutor
General's Office (PGO).  This was part of an initiative by the OSCE, PGO, the Kazakhstan Supreme Court and other government agencies.

On 14 June 2016, Michael G. Karnavas conducted a 3 hour training on drafting submissions and motion practice, as part of the Mock Trial
training organized by the ADC-ICTY and ICLB (International Criminal Law Bureau).

On 10 June 2016, Michael G. Karnavas lectured at an international affairs class on atrocity crimes taught by Dr. Craig Etcheson, at Pannasastra
University, Phnom Penh Cambodia. The focus was on the rights of the accused and fair trial rights in the context of representing accused on
charges such as genocide and crimes against humanity, before international tribunals, and in particular the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of
Cambodia (ECCC).

From January to April 2016, Michael G. Karnavas provided a research and a comprehensive analysis on the principles of reasonable doubt and in
dubio pro reo to assist in their application to Macedonia’s new criminal procedure code, which is civil law based with adversarial modalities.

From March 2015 to April 2016, Michael G. Karnavas chairing the working group on drafting the constitution for and registering under the Dutch
law the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) for Counsel and their staff appearing before the ICC.

On 2 and 9 March 2016, Michael G. Karnavas provided pro bono ethics training at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh,
Cambodia, consisting of two three-hour sessions on the general obligations and responsibilities of a lawyer, with a particular focus on conflicts of
interest.

From February to March 2016, Michael G. Karnavas provided intensive cross-examination training for the Bosco Ntaganda Defence team at the ICC.

From 8-12 February 2016, Michael G. Karnavas participated in the Sub-Regional Seminar of Counsel and the Legal Profession in Arusha,
Tanzania, hosted by the ICC Registrar. The first part of the Seminar (8 and 9 February) was aimed to provide a platform for dialogue and
cooperation of legal professionals in the region and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The second part of the seminar was devoted to training.
On 9 February 2016, Michael G. Karnavas participated in a panel discussion titled The Importance of Establishing an ICC Bar Association. He also
moderated a 2-hour closed-session discussion among the participants on the ongoing developments of drafting the constitution for the ICC Bar
Association (ICCBA). The ICC List Counsel among the participants expressed 100% support of the work of the Drafting Committee and the idea of
establishing the ICCBA. Click here for the agenda.

On 23 January 2016, Michael G. Karnavas made a presentation before the International Criminal Defence Lawyers (ICDL)-Germany 10th Annual
Meeting in Berlin, Germany, titled List Counsel of the ICC Unite: Vision or Illusion for a Bar Association of List Counsel and their Staff?  Click
here for the agenda.

On 18 January 2016, Michael G. Karnavas participated in a roundtable discussion The Amicus Curiae in International Criminal Justice, hosted
by Leiden University in cooperation with the Australian Human Rights Centre. The roundtable discussion was divided into three panel sessions
addressing: the strategy and impact of the amicus curiae briefs before the ICC (panel 1); the possibility of the amicus curiae affecting fair trial rights
and the possibility of “co-opting” amicus as defence, the amicus prosecutor and victims and states amicus (panel 2); procedural implications, ethical
challenges and future directions for managing the amicus curiae process (panel 3). For more on Michael Karnavas’s presentation, click here. To
view the agenda, click here.

On 5 December 2015 the Association of Defense Counsel Practising before the ICTY held a Conference on the Situation of Defence Counsel at
International Criminal Courts and Tribunals in The Hague.  Michael G. Karnavas was a member of a panel on The Importance of a Bar Association
for International Criminal Courts and Tribunals.

The Globe Lawyer, a new website addressing issues of genocide and crimes against humanity, has re-published a post by Michael G. Karnavas,
Hybrid Courts:  A Marriage of Inconvenience, first published on the michaelgkarnavas.net/Blog 29 June 2015.

From 25 to 30 October 2015, Michael G. Karnavas conducted a series of tailored full-day trainings for criminal defense lawyers of Macedonian
Bar Association, Skopje, Macedonia, organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission to Skopje.

On 22 and 23 October 2015, Michael G. Karnavas participated in the Third International Meeting of Defence Offices at the International Criminal
Courts in Geneva, Switzerland.

Michael G. Karnavas attended a meeting of the Principals of the three organs of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") held on 17
September 2015 with the Drafting Committee for an association of counsel.  The Committee, which was met by the ICC President, Judge Silvia
Fernández de Gurmendi, together with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Registrar Herman von Hebel, consists of experienced lawyers from, inter
alia, the List of Counsel of the ICC, as well as the Principal Counsel of the Offices of Public Counsel for the Defence and Victims, who have been
working on a draft constitution for an association of counsel.   As Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Michael provided an update on the work
undertaken since the Committee was established following a consultative expert conference organised by the Registrar in March 2015 at the seat of
the Court.  He further informed the Principals of the Court that the draft constitution has been circulated to all members of the ICC List of Counsel
for input. The Committee hopes to finalise its constitution in the near future after extensive consultations with the Court.

Michael G. Karnavas is featured on the 31 July 15 Interviews with the Defence section of the ECCC Blog, discussing his evolution into an
international criminal defence attorney and his view of the role of the defence to insure fairness in the criminal justice system.

On 16-17 July 2015, Michael G. Karnavas participated in the Maastricht Seminar for Members of the List of Counsel before the International
Criminal Court, hosted by the Maastricht University, and delivered a presentation titled Lawyer Ethics and the work of the ICC Disciplinary Organs.
To view the agenda, please click here.

On 23-24 March 2015, Michael G. Karnavas participated in the Expert Conference, hosted by the ICC Registrar as part of the ReVision project for
reorganizing of the current setup of the Registry, to discuss the proposed Victims and Defence Offices within the ICC Registry, and the potential
establishment of a bar association for List Counsel. For more see Michael’s blog on Expert Conference on the Establishment of an ICC Victims and
Defence Office (31/03/15).

On Thursday 12 March 2015, Michael G. Karnavas conducted a Defence Symposium as part of the Advocacy Training at the ADC-ICTY. The
topic was  Evidence and Objections”.

Click here for Archive of earlier News and Events
Testimonial

[A]s a pro bono member within a Defence team at the International Criminal Court (ICC), I found the multiple day training course on
cross-examination techniques given by Michael Karnavas to be very useful. This training is highly recommended to any lawyer who plans
on examining witnesses in court. With his wealth of knowledge and experience and his no-nonsense approach, Michael Karnavas pushes
his trainees to constantly improve, think on their feet and most importantly, always be prepared ahead of time.

                              -- Erik Cookson-Montin, May 2016
Follow Michael
on Twitter
@mgkarnavas