Gillian Higgins

Head of the International Practice


Gillian is Head of the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row. As an international barrister, she has represented leading political figures before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and UN international tribunals.

She is a trained investigative interviewer able to handle sensitive witnesses and complex situations. Gillian also works as an accredited civil/commercial and workplace mediator. She also has a particular interest in the use of mediation to resolve international conflict situations. She is listed as a mediator on Clerksroom.

Background and Expertise

As an international lawyer with 20 years experience, Gillian has been involved in some of the leading cases in international criminal law. She is adept at providing advice, developing case strategy, and representing clients in the most complex cases.

Read more about background and expertise

Her recent advisory work includes providing submissions to the UN investigation into the conflict in Sri Lanka and reports about the Muslim Brotherhood for the Egypt State Litigation Authority. She has led sensitive investigations into alleged financial misconduct, and advised government-level clients on the potential impact of international criminal proceedings.

As a civil and commercial mediator, Gillian is skilled at navigating complicated factual and legal situations and is innovative in helping find creative solutions. She uses her communication skills to get to the heart of the matter calmly and professionally, putting participants at ease. She is also a workplace and employment mediator and a member of the faculty of the London School of Mediation.

In 2011 she founded ARC, which monitors the work of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Tanzania. In 2016, she served as a member of the steering committee for Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty programme. She also lectures extensively and has provided consultancy services to organisations such as the Kurdish Human Rights Project, the State Court of BiH in Sarajevo, the Mike Campbell Foundation in South Africa, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

International cases

The Prosecutor v Uhuru Kenyatta, 2010–15

Proceedings at the ICC against President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, charged with crimes against humanity regarding allegations of a leading role in post-election violence of 2007–08. See the International Law Bureau report on the work of the 9 Bedford Row defence team.

Court video Court Video 2
Sri Lanka, 2014–15

Submissions to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), on behalf of three Sri Lankan NGOs, relating to the 30-year conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). 9 Bedford Row submitted detailed reports on aspects of the conflict, supported by evidence from open sources.

Read more International cases

The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak, 2007–11

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Represented Cermak, who was acquitted of all charges in 2011. This case has been described as the most important trial in the history of Croatia – and concerned the prosecution of Ante Gotovina, Cermak and Mladen Markac in respect of the military action that resulted in the liberation of the Croatian territories from the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK).

The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic, 2001–05
Trial of Slobodan Milosevic on 66 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Gillian was appointed court-assigned defence counsel with Steven Kay QC from 2004 – having previously been appointed amica curiae (in 2003) and instructed as a legal consultant to the amici curiae (2001).
Osmanoglu v Turkey, 2008
European Court of Human Rights Gillian was instructed as counsel by the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP), in case concerning alleged multiple breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant was a Turkish national of Kurdish origin who alleged that his son was taken into police custody and subsequently disappeared.
The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana, 2000–02
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Gillian was engaged as a member of the defence team in a trial concerning the responsibility of the media for genocide in Rwanda in 1994 – which came to be known as the “media trial”. Nahimana, who had acted as Director of the Rwandan Office of Information in 1990–92, was one of three people charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, 1999–2000, 2016–17
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda The first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide. Gillian was engaged as a member of this defence team, the first to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations. She was instructed with Steven Kay QC in 2016 to act as pro bono counsel in the event of future review proceedings.

Associated work

Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, 2007

Legal consultant for the defence support section

KHRP and European Parliament, 2007

Member of a fact-finding mission investigating the increase of suicides among Kurdish women in Turkey

Office of Defence Counsel (OKO) in Sarajevo, 2006

Legal consultant

KHRP, 1998

Legal advisor. Trial observation work in relation to the HADEP trial in Ankara, Turkey

Training and lecturing

Gillian is a trainer in civil and commercial mediation and workplace mediation as a faculty member of the London School of Mediation. Gillian has also lectured extensively on fair trial rights, human rights law and international criminal law including at the following institutions: 
International Bar Association at The Belgrade International Law Conference; The German Bar Association; The Dutch Bar Association; 
Leiden University, The Hague Campus; The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Indiana University, Faculty of Law, USA; The Association of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
; The National University of Ireland, Human Rights Institute, Galway, Ireland; The Graduate School of Law, Riga, Latvia; University of Salzburg, Faculty of Law Exeter University, The Bar of Sarajevo; 
OSCE in Macedonia; International Bar Association in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
; Northwestern University, Chicago.


  • Conference speaker
  • Volunteer youth worker
  • Meditation teacher


  • Co-author of The Intoxication Defence and Theories of Criminal Liability, The Addiction Research Foundation (ADR) 1999
  • Life Beyond the Crown Court Grind, The Times 11 October 2005
  • The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial, special edition, Criminal Law Forum 2006
  • Fair and Expeditious Pre-Trial Proceedings: The Future of International Criminal Trials, Journal of International Criminal Justice 2007
  • Entries on The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic and The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana in the Oxford Companion to International Criminal Law, Oxford University Press (OUP) 2009
  • The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial and the development of Rule 73bis before the ICTY, Northwestern University Law Review 2009
  • The Development of the Right to Self-Representation before the International Criminal Tribunals, chapter in Judicial Creativity at the International Criminal Tribunals, OUP 2011
  • Examination-in-Chief and Cross-Examination, chapter in Transferring War Crimes Cases From the ICTY, UNICRI 2011
  • Book review of Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by Daniel H Joyner, International Criminal Law Blog 2012
  • Blog editor and publisher for the International Criminal Law Bureau, to date
  • Blog editor and publisher for ARC, to date

Professional commentary and attribution

"An experienced junior who is held to be a "very committed advocate," she is particularly adept at defending those charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. She maintains a particularly strong affiliation with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights."
"She has a reputation as a very canny operator. Strategically, she is second to none in terms of her approach to cases."
"Acting as Counsel for Alfred Musema in review proceedings at the United Nations Mechanism For International Criminal Tribunals."

Chambers UK, 2018

"A veteran of International Criminal Court prosecutions."

Legal 500, 2017

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PROFILE: Gillian Higgins

"Noted by sources for her strong work ethic and knowledge of international criminal law ... she maintains a particularly strong affiliation with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights ...utterly fantastic."

Chambers and Partners, 2017

Year called



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Financial and Corporate law

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Direct access



020 7489 2727


LLB, Exeter University, 2001–04

LLM, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, 2004–05

Inns of Court School of Law, 2006–07


Grays’ Inn List of Counsel at the International Criminal Court CBA Founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau Founder of ARC


Workplace mediator, 2017

Member of the steering committee for Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty programme, 2015–16

Accredited civil and commercial mediator, 2016

Member of the Faculty of the London School of Mediation, 2016–

Investigative Interviewer – Accredited Course Part 1, Intersol Global, 2016


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