Kuniko Ozaki

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Kuniko Ozaki
2nd Vice-President of the International Criminal Court
In office
11 March 2015 – 2018
Preceded byCuno Tarfusser
Judge of the International Criminal Court
In office
2009 – 2018
Nominated byJapan
Preceded byFumiko Saiga
Personal details
Born (1956-02-20) 20 February 1956 (age 63)
Hiroshima, Japan

Kuniko Ozaki (尾崎久仁子, Ozaki Kuniko), (born 1956[1]) is a Japanese lawyer who served as judge of the International Criminal Court and the Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber V, constituted to try the cases against four Kenyan nationals.

Early life and career[edit]

Ozaki graduated from Tokyo University in 1978 and, in 1982, was awarded an M. Phil. in International Relations at Oxford University.[1]

Afterwards, Ozaki worked in several positions for the Japanese Foreign Ministry.[1] From 2006 to 2009, she worked for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) where she was a Director for Treaty Affairs.[1] In addiiton to her role in the diplomatic service, she has worked as a professor of international law at Tohoku University and at other universities. She also has written on international criminal law and other fields of law.[1]

Judge of the International Criminal Court, 2009-2018[edit]

On 20 January 2010, Ozaki assumed her position as a judge in the Trial Division of the International Criminal Court. While she is no qualified lawyer, she had stressed her experience in lecturing in international law and her time at Japan’s Ministry of Justice in responses to a CICC questionnaire at the time of her 2009 election.[2] She was elected for a term that lasts until 11 March 2018.[1]

Ozaki was assigned to Trial Chamber V which is to try four Kenyan nationals for crimes against humanity. She was elected Presiding Judge.[3][4] Until 2016, she also served as member of Trial Chamber III for the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba,[5] the first case in which the ICC has found a high official directly responsible for the crimes of his subordinates, as well as the first to focus primarily on crimes of sexual violence committed in war.[6]

In October 2013, Ozaki notably gave a dissenting opinion on the court’s majority ruling that conditionally excused President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya from attending all the sittings of his trial in The Hague, criticizing the decision of going against the provisions of the Rome Statute.[7] In a September 2014 ruling, the Chamber presided by Ozaki ordered that Kenyatta should physically appear before the court, making him the first head of state to do so.[8]

Later career[edit]

In February, 2019, Ozaki was appointed Japan's Ambassador to Estonia and accordingly requested a transfer to part-time status with the ICC.[9] Her decision to continue hearing cases while serving ambassador was criticized as a violation of the ICC's code of ethics, which states that "[j]udges shall not exercise any political function."[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Judge Kuniko OZAKI (Japan). ICC. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  2. ^ Caroline Binham (September 14, 2011), Election shines light on war crimes court Financial Times.
  3. ^ Decision notifying the election of the Presiding Judge. ICC Trial Chamber V. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  4. ^ Decision notifying the election of the Presiding Judge. ICC Trial Chamber V. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  5. ^ Thomas Escritt (February 14, 2013), Kenyatta, running for president, wants Hague trial postponed Reuters.
  6. ^ Thomas Escritt (March 22, 2016), Congo ex-vice president guilty in landmark ICC war rape ruling Reuters.
  7. ^ Fatou Bensouda mulls over appeal against Uhuru Kenyatta excusal ruling Daily Nation, October 21, 2013.
  8. ^ Wahome Thuku (September 20, 2014), ICC judges summon President Uhuru Kenyatta, will he go to The Hague? The Standard.
  9. ^ Wairagala Wakabi (March 26, 2019), Judge Ozaki to Complete Ntaganda Trial While Serving as Japan’s Ambassador to Estonia, International Justice Monitor.
  10. ^ Kevin Jon Heller (March 29, 2019) Judge Ozaki Must Resign -- Or be Removed, Opinio Juris.
  11. ^ Kevin Jon Heller (April 1, 2019) Ntaganda Defence Reacts to the Judge Ozaki Revelations, Opinio Juris.