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Nina Tavakoli

Nina Tavakoli

Call: 2014

Nina specialises in international and domestic criminal and human rights law.  She is recognised in Chambers and Partners 2018 for her international criminal law work.

“Very bright and extremely committed to her cases and clients, she will go the extra mile to ensure the delivery of exceptionally high-quality work.  She is a barrister who confronts challenges.” Chambers and Partners 2018

Nina has extensive experience in genocide and war crimes prosecutions and has been engaged on some of the most high profile cases of recent times. At the Special Court for Sierra Leone Nina was prosecution appeals counsel on the case of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia who was convicted of war crimes. At the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Nina was a legal adviser to international judges on numerous trials of senior Rwandan government and political figures for genocide. She also worked in the defence office of the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the UK, Nina defends and prosecutes in the Crown Court. She brings her wealth of experience internationally to bear on her UK cases.

Alongside court work Nina provides specialist advice and training on international criminal and human rights law to clients including governments, international and multilateral organisations and NGOs.

Before transferring to the Bar, Nina qualified as a solicitor at Hogan Lovells in 2003, and worked both in private practice and for the United Nations.



Despite 14 years’ experience as a lawyer including at international courts and tribunals (see below), Nina was only called to the UK Bar in 2014.  However, that background gives her experience and maturity which goes well beyond her call.

Nina already appears regularly in the Crown Courts, defending and prosecuting.  She covers the gamut of crime and her work includes offences of serious violence; sexual offences; arson; perverting the course of justice; fraud; dishonesty; weapons; drugs; robbery; and road traffic. She has also assisted in preparing the successful defence of the first ever FGM case to be tried in the UK.

A significant number of her cases involved representing young and/or vulnerable clients with mental health issues: her maturity and experience enables her to interact with and re-assure them.

Publications, Lectures and Training


Blackstone’s International Criminal Practice, chapter author, OUP,  (forthcoming, 2018).

A crime that offends the conscience of humanity: a proposal to reclassify trafficking in women as an international crime, International Criminal Law Review 9 (2009).

2015 – Participant and speaker at Expert Meeting on Customary International Law, Geneva Academy of International Law and Human Rights, Geneva.
2014 – Expert participant at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, London.
2014 – Guest speaker and panellist at United Nations Symposium on the Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Tanzania.
2013 – Guest speaker at the 2013 Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Conference on combatting sexual violence crimes in the Arab world in the context of the ‘Arab Spring’, Amman, Jordan.
2013 – Lecturer at American University of Paris on international criminal law.

Training Middle Eastern NGOs on the establishment of national mechanisms to combat impunity for sexual violence crimes committed in conflict.

Assisting the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in Abuja, to train Nigerian lawyers from the Nigerian National Police Force and Department of State Security on the successful prosecution of terrorism.



International Representation

Nina has practiced extensively at several of the international criminal tribunals as a prosecutor and legal adviser, specifically at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on a number of high profile and ground-breaking cases. Nina holds a masters’ degree in international public law from the London School of Economics. She is a contributor to the forthcoming edition of the leading practitioner textbook on international criminal law Blackstone’s International Criminal Practice, (OUP).

Nina is recognised as an expert on sexual and gender based violence crimes by the UK government which has appointed her a member of its team of independent experts on preventing sexual violence in conflict. She has also been appointed by the UK government as a member of its team of independent justice experts in post-conflict and fragile states.

Nina is consulted by a range of institutions and non-governmental organisations to advise and provide training on a wide range of international criminal law and human rights issues within her expertise including torture, sexual and gender based violence, human trafficking and terrorism.

International Courts

  • Special Court for Sierra Leone (2011-2013), Charles Taylor. Prosecution appeals counsel in the case of the former president of Liberia. Taylor was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity including the use of child soldiers, murder, rape and torture committed by rebel forces in the Sierra Leonean civil war.                  Press Links: BBC 
  • United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (2007-2011) Legal adviser to international judges including the Tribunal President and Vice President in numerous trials including:
    • Bizimungu et. al. Four ministers in the Rwandan Government acquitted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
    • Nchamihigo, a deputy prosecutor, was convicted of instigating, ordering and aiding and abetting genocide, and crimes against humanity.
    • Bikindi, a Rwandan singer, was convicted of direct and public incitement to genocide arising from hate speech.   Press Links: New York Times
    • Ntawukuliyayo, a regional politician, was convicted of aiding and abetting and ordering genocide.
    • Gatete, a regional politician, was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity.
    • Munyakazi  & Kayishema, two cases where the Chamber denied the prosecution’s application to extradite the accused to Rwanda on the basis that they would not face a fair trial. These decisions were subsequently relied on by the English High Court in extradition proceedings in Bajinya et. al v. The Government of Rwanda and the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWHC 770.
  • War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, BiH (2005) Legal advisor in the defence office.

Recommendations and Rankings

A “hard-working team player” with “exceptional legal skills” who attracts plaudits for her “ability to quickly identify key components of issues and prepare clear and concise written submissions.”  Chambers and Partners 2018

“Very bright and extremely committed to her cases and clients, she will go the extra mile to ensure the delivery of exceptionally high-quality work. She is a barrister who confronts challenges.” Chambers and Partners 2018

“Bright, articulate and unrelenting in getting the best result for her client.” Chambers and Partners 2018

“She has excellent interpersonal skills reflected in her capacity to listen closely to her clients. Nina helps them to talk about topics which they find confusing or painful, or which they feel ashamed about.” Chambers and Partners 2018


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LLM Public International Law  – London School of Economics

BA History (Hons) – University of Birmingham


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Bar Human Rights Committee

Criminal Bar Association

South Eastern Circuit


Professional Appointments

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Member of UK government’s team of independent experts on preventing sexual violence in conflict, 2012 (PSVI); and a justice expert in post-conflict and fragile states, 2014 (DCE)

CPS Panel Advocate (Grade 2)


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