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The MLA Initiative is an initiative led by Slovenia, Argentina, Belgium, Mongolia, the Netherlands and Senegal for the adoption of the Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes and other International Crimes.

Introductory video on the MLA Initiative

About the MLA Initiative

The MLA Initiative advocates for the adoption of a multilateral treaty that would provide inter-State cooperation mechanisms for the investigation and prosecution of the most serious international crimes.

The MLA Initiative emerged after the expert meeting organized by the Netherlands, Belgium and Slovenia in the Hague in November 2011 had confirmed a legal gap in the mutual legal assistance and extradition between States for the national adjudication of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The core group of States leading the MLA Initiative was later enlarged with Argentina, Senegal and Mongolia.

Given the nature of atrocity crimes, with suspects, victims, witnesses and evidence often crossing the States' borders, it is paramount to ensure effective international legal cooperation at the global level.

Some of the existing multilateral treaties contain modern provisions on mutual legal assistance and extradition, e.g. the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption. The MLA Initiative advocates for the adoption of a multilateral treaty that would provide similar inter-State cooperation mechanisms for investigating and prosecuting the most serious international crimes. The Initiative therefore addresses the primary responsibility of States to prosecute atrocity crimes and the need to improve the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of these crimes at the national level.

The MLA Initiative operates as a stand-alone process, outside of the UN forum.

The MLA Initiative is open to all States. Since it has no relation to the work of the International Criminal Court, both States Parties to the Rome Statute and States not parties can join. Today, the MLA initiative is supported by 77 States from regions all over the world. More information about the aim of the MLA Initiative and the list of supporting countries can be found in the documents section below.

Process to date

Since 2011, the MLA Initiative Core Group has been focused on enlisting support for the Initiative among States, both bilaterally and within the multilateral fora.

A crucial step forward was made at the First Preparatory Conference, which took place in Doorn, the Netherlands, on 16-19 October 2017. During the Conference, more than one hundred participants representing over forty supporting States and the civil society discussed the substantive elements of the planned treaty and also its procedural aspects, including the forum for negotiations. The Doorn discussions provided the basis for the Core Group's work on the MLA Preliminary Draft Convention.

The draft MLA Convention was discussed by the participants at the Second Preparatory Conference, which was held in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on 11-14 March 2019. The comments received were incorporated into the draft MLA Convention by the Core Group.

The Diplomatic Conference planned for June 2020 to formally negotiate the text of the Convention has been postponed due to the pandemic.

During the pandemic, the initiative did not stand still, but virtual consultations were organised to prepare a comprehensive draft that will serve as a basis for negotiations at the Conference.

The Draft Convention in English, French and Spanish, which will constitute the initial draft text for the work of the Conference, is available among the documents.

The new draft text of the Convention is the result of three rounds of virtual consultations in June and November 2021 and in June 2022. The English reference version among the documents contains the changes in the form of track changes.

We expect that work on the initiative will be successfully completed with the adoption of a Convention at a Diplomatic Conference in May 2023.

Way forward

Having obtained extensive support for the MLA Initiative and with the preparatory work completed, the Initiative is now entering the phase of negotiations.

The Diplomatic Conference to conduct formal negotiations of the Convention will take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 15 to 26 May 2023.

The supporting States will be able to participate fully in the Conference, thereby actively co-shaping the future MLA treaty. Other States will be able to join as observer States. The invitation will also be extended to the relevant international/regional organizations as well as the civil society.

How can States join the MLA Initiative?

In order to become a supporting State, States are invited to sign an official note verbale expressing their support for the MLA Initiative and for opening negotiations for a procedural multilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance and extradition aimed at covering the gap in the international legal framework for investigating and prosecuting core international crimes. The note verbale can be submitted to any of the MLA leading States.