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Philosophy of the International Defence Counsel Training Programme

International criminal justice programs mostly address issues related to the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of international crimes.  Accordingly, the core legal principles underlining the rights of suspects and defendants which are rooted in international human rights law, their significance to ensuring equal access to justice and fair trials, as well as related techniques for the promotion and protection of such rights, are yet to be properly highlighted in these programs. This is a deficiency that the International Defence Counsel Training Programme addresses through targeted training  focused on the crucial work of defence lawyers, whether they operate at the national or international level: in order to meet the principles of fairness and equality, the international criminal justice cycle must encompass, with equivalent effort, defence lawyers as like judges and prosecutors.

Group Picture “Fundamentals on Defence Rights Before International Courts” – Siracusa, May 15-19, 2017

The Siracusa Institute recognises this area of need and developed a International Defence Counsel Training Programme aimed at supporting defence lawyers, who are fundamental to national judicial systems and the pursuit of international criminal justice. At its core, the Programme intends to provide defence lawyers with the substantive knowledge, practical tools and proven techniques for them to devise effective defence strategies and ultimately, to ensure the best results for their clients.  This Programme draws on international norms, standards and legal principles, but is likewise intended to be highly practical training for domestic practitioners as much as those working at the international level.

Overview of the Programme

The International Defence Counsel Training Programme is built around a five-day Entry Course, on Principles and Procedural Aspects of Defence Rights before International Courts, to tackle a multifaceted range of topics relevant to the protection, exercise and promotion of Defence Rights.

The Fundamentals Course lays the groundwork for a series of Specialisation Courses that will further develop and deepen participants’ knowledge and skills in respect of Defence Rights, focusing on substantive law, relevant court procedures, prominent jurisprudence and advanced defence techniques in nine broad areas, namely:

  • European Court of Human Rights;
  • Cybercrime;
  • Financial Crime, Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing;
  • Corruption in International Trade and Business;
  • Fundamental Rights in Data Protection and Privacy;
  • Protection of Fundamental Rights in European Criminal Law;
  • International Drug Trafficking; and
  • Human Trafficking and the Smuggling of Migrants.


Lawyers, and their national and international professional associations, play a fundamental role in upholding the rule of law, as well as ensuring equal access to justice and fairness to suspects and accused persons.  Therefore, in cooperation with major international lawyers’ associations and key international justice institutions, the Siracusa Institute has taken the lead in developing this Defence Rights Training Programme.

The Programme has been organised in partnership with:


The overall training programme aims at providing Lawyers and international jurists with:

  • the tools and techniques to enhance their advocacy skills in the preparation of court proceedings and in court pleadings;
  • the specific expertise to address contemporary issues related to international criminal law, i.e. enhanced  capacity on substantive norms, jurisprudence, doctrine, and practices also from the perspective of institutional and regulatory authorities, necessary to be a successful advocate in judicial and extra-judicial proceedings;
  • the opportunity to be trained on how to access relevant resources, databases, and participate in fora which enhance international cooperation with colleagues


The various training courses will allow to:

  • Support defence lawyers in assisting clients before Domestic and International Courts by giving them necessary specialised training on : defence rights, the jurisprudence of International Courts, procedural elements and defence techniques in the relevant jurisdictions;
  • Strengthen defence lawyers’ ability to assist clients in international investigations by delivering specialised training on international legal tools of cooperation (conventions in criminal matters), mutual legal assistance principles, European investigation and cooperation tools;
  • Develop defence lawyers’ knowledge of the context of international organized crime and criminal phenomena including money laundering, corruption, cybercrime, trafficking in drugs and persons.

Course Location and Social Activities

The International Defence Counsel Training Programme will be conducted in Siracusa, a historic Italian city at the crossroads of civilizations. Siracusa is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily and has a population of around 125,000 people. Over 2,700 years, Siracusa has been shaped by and influenced by Ancient Greece, the Arab world, Romans and Christians. It is a well-known archaeological zone with its historic centre on the island of Ortigia. The city is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Siracusa offers great restaurants serving Italian delicacies and the local world-renowned wine, Nero d’Avola.

You will find on our website advice on the best ways to discover the city of Siracusa and take advantage of its history and its food.


The Programme is currently being renovated. Please check regularly our website for updates.