The Sierra Leone Institute of International Law -


The Sierra Leone Institute of International Law was established on 24 April 2009. The aims and objectives of the Institute are as stated in Article 1 of the Statute.

Sierra Leone has played a pivotal role in International Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Sierra Leone is not a new player in the Progressive development, codification and wider dissemination of International Law. In 1808 Sierra Leone entered into a Treat Relationship with Great Britain. One of the leading cases in state responsibility originated in Sierra Leone and that is the case known as The British Missionary Case between the United States and Great Britain. In that case, the adjudicating tribunal in its award held that it was a “well established principle of International Law that no government can be held responsible for the acts of rebellious bodies of men committed in violation of its authority, where it is itself guilty of no breach of good faith, or no negligence in suppressing insurrection”. This is the culpa doctrine and has remained part of International jurisprudence.

On attaining independence on 27th April 1961, Sierra Leone became the 100th Member of the United Nations. It also became a Member of the Commonwealth and then the Organization of African Unity. By becoming members of these organizations, Sierra Leone undertook to behave in conformity with the aims and purposes of the organizations. In fulfilling its international obligations, Sierra Leone sent personnel to the United Nations Peacekeeping force in the Congo and is again contributing peacekeeping personnel and civilian police personnel to the United Nations. Sierra Leone has, in fulfilling its obligations in International Law, continued to remain committed to the aims and purposes of the United Nations, the maintenance of International Peace and Security, the promotion and protection of human rights. In furtherance of these objectives, Sierra Leone is today party to many major international treaties and conventions such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the attendant Protocol II, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial. Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. More recently and during my eleven years as Sierra Leone's Deputy Permanent Representative for Legal Affairs at the United Nations, Sierra Leone played a pivotal role in crafting conventions to curb the trade in small arms and light weapons, to combat the child soldier phenomenon and to combat International Terrorism.

In more recent times, Sierra Leone has been and continues to play a pivotal role in International Criminal Justice in the region and internationally. That pivotal role began with the 1998 Rome Conference for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, continuing through the preparatory committees and since 2002 the Assembly of States Parties, up to and including the most recent session in November 2011. Our role in international criminal justice includes the establishment and engagement with the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has consistently lived up to its commitment to International Criminal Justice by setting up the Special Court for Sierra and taking a very hands-off approach to its operations, while continuing to provide the Special Court with all the support and cooperation it needed to fulfill its mandate.

The consistent support Sierra Leone has given to the fundamental principles of International Criminal Justice, including its commitment to upholding its International Legal Obligations under the Rome Statute, has placed Sierra Leone at the forefront of International Criminal Justice and the fight against impunity in the region and world wide. It has also enhanced Sierra Leone's authority to speak on a range of International legal issues, including issues related to the law of the sea. At the United Nations, Sierra Leone has consistently argued against those who say the International Criminal Court is an African Court, set up to try Africans. This argument is nonsense. The Court is an International Court set up to end impunity in the world. This is why the Sierra Leone Institute of International Law and our Partner, Manifesto 99 found the decision of the African Union, calling on African States Parties to the 1998 Rome Statute, not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court a very bad decision devoid of reason.

The Institute hopes that Sierra Leone will continue to uphold the spirit and intendment of the Statute especially since the Special Court for Sierra Leone has led to considerable knowledge within Sierra Leone and the sub region about International Humanitarian and Criminal Law and heightened interest in International Law issues more generally. To build on this interest and create a vehicle through which the interest of Sierra Leone and others in the sub-region can be further explored, on 24 April 2009 we established a Sierra Leone Institute of International Law. The Institute would be a center for academic excellence on international law in Sierra Leone and the sub-region. It would focus on the promotion of fundamental principles of international law in Sierra Leone and the sub-region.

The Sierra Leone Institute of International Law seeks to co-operate with all branches of government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, the Judiciary and the Attorney-General’s Office, in discharging Sierra Leone’s international obligations, bilaterally and multilaterally, within the West African sub-region and beyond.
The Institute has experts on all areas of International Law and is willing and able to provide advice on all issues of International Law.
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