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IAP: Bringing World Prosecutors Together to Fight Common Problems

Chris Toth, NAAG Deputy Executive Director and NAGTRI Director

Technological advances over the past several decades have made the world a much smaller place. Often, airfares to international destinations are cheaper than to many places in the United States. Increasingly, world cities now share many commonalities. It’s as easy to find a Starbucks in Taipei as New York City, and you can stay in the same chain of hotels just about anywhere you travel.

As the world shrinks, criminals have also increasingly taken great advantage of the ability to easily commit crimes across borders. And even when crimes do not cross borders, the commonalities facilitated by the Internet age have resulted in many similarities in the crimes committed wholly within specific nations. Accordingly, prosecutors around the world have increasingly found that they do not exist within a vacuum in their own countries. While national laws and rules of evidence can and do vary greatly from nation to nation, sound investigatory and prosecutorial techniques translate remarkably well across international borders as they apply to common problems.

Faced with an increasing need for a forum to bring the world’s prosecutors together, the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) was formed in 1995 as the first and only world association of prosecutors. The IAP vision is to be an organization “committed to setting and raising standards of professional conduct and ethics for prosecutors worldwide; promoting the rule of law, fairness, impartiality and respect for human rights; and improving international cooperation to combat crime.” IAP has now grown into an organization that includes individual and organizational members from over 170 countries. In the United States, organizational members include the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA). As the number of nations participating in IAP attests, it has a very robust international presence. While IAP membership has also been quite extensive in common-law nations such as Canada and Australia and most civil law nations, participation by American prosecutors has lagged a bit behind, largely because of historically active U.S. organizations like USDOJ, NAAG, APA, and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) that have provided a host of benefits to their members.

The passing of time, however, combined with the porousness of borders and increasingly common patterns of crime across all nations, has made it clear that there are many benefits to the level of international cooperation provided by IAP.

Services Provided by IAP to Its Members

Specialty Working Networks: IAP continues to expand the number of specialty networks available to its members. These networks provide a number of different resources, but perhaps most important of these are the ability to establish relationships and glean best practices with prosecutors from around the world. Such networks include:

  • Global Prosecutors E-Network (GPEN): GPEN’s goal is to improve the level of international cooperation among cybercrime prosecutors. GPEN resources include a monthly newsletter, a discussion forum, learning resources to include an on-line library, various trainings, and a yearly meeting held as part of the IAP annual meeting. GPEN is perhaps the most evolved and developed of the IAP specialty networks. NAAG staff are active participants and collaborators in this effort.
  • Trafficking in Persons Platform (TIPP): The problem of human trafficking has profound international dimensions. Both labor and sex trafficking operations routinely cross borders and international cooperation is essential to battling this scourge. TIPP’s goals include providing a forum where prosecutors can communicate regarding trends and patterns and share best practices.
  • Network of Anti-Corruption Prosecutors (NACP): The NACP network concentrates on the issues of bribery and corruption, money laundering, and asset recovery. While law enforcement tactics in this area vary widely across nations, the NACP endeavors to provide transferable best practices and lessons learned.
  • Forum for International Criminal Justice (FICJ): FICJ facilitates global cooperation in the areas of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
  • Counter Terrorism Prosecutors Network (CTPN): The CTPN provides access to various resources to include an e-bulletin, contacts, and a discussion board.

Annual and Regional Meetings: IAP holds an annual meeting each year and a regional meeting specific to each continent or major international region approximately every one and one half years. These meetings are used to focus on a particular issue of importance to prosecutors. They provide both an important opportunity to increase professional expertise and a chance to develop extended networks that inure to the benefit of the participants’ offices.

The next annual meeting of the IAP will be held Sept. 11-15, 2016, in Dublin, Ireland. The theme for the conference will be “The Prosecutor and Investigator.” Sessions will include discussions on the relationship between the prosecutor and the investigator, governance, and case management from investigation to conclusion of trial. Previous conference themes have included “White Collar Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering” during the 2015 annual meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, and “Good Prosecution Practices: Learning from Each Other,” during the 2014 annual meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The last IAP North American-Caribbean regional meeting was hosted by NAAG in Providence, R.I., in August 2013. Upcoming regional meetings will occur Nov. 2-4, 2016, in Jamaica and May 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

How Can You Become Involved in IAP?

Through NAAG’s organization membership in IAP, attorneys and investigators in attorneys general offices can participate in any of the specialty working groups or attend annual and regional meetings. Please contact NAGTRI Deputy Director Judy McKee at for more information on specialty working groups. Please register here for IAP annual or regional meetings. Note that the maximum capacity for registrations for the annual meeting is usually reached around two months before the meeting dates. If you are interested in attending the September annual meeting in Dublin, it is best to register as soon as possible.

Individual IAP memberships are also available. Annual dues are 50 Euros – about $56.00.

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