1. Does IAD itself organize international events?
Yes, the IAD organizes and hosts several international events a year ranging from conferences to capacity building workshops. This is part of the IAD’s commitment to achieving the AGC vision to be a World Class Public Legal Organisation by 2012. The organization of world and regional level international conferences, meetings, seminars and workshops increases the AGC’s international profile and visibility as a respected and significant player in the international legal field. Further the cost-benefit analysis of the opportunities obtained to attend important international legal discussions within the AGC’s own premises cannot be gainsaid. In addition, the IAD is the Secretariat for the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (among like-minded ASEAN Member Countries). IAD took on this role as it had been at the forefront of Malaysia’s negotiation on the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (among like-minded ASEAN Member Countries) and because Malaysia is the Depository State for the said Treaty. As part of its’ duties, the Secretariat assists the Treaty Parties to further the harmonized implementation of the Treaty. This is achieved through the organisation of the Meetings of the Attorneys General/ Ministers of Justice, the annual Meetings of Senior Officials as well as capacity-building Workshops either in Malaysia or one of the Treaty Parties. The IAD has taken on this role and responsibility since the adoption of the Treaty on 29 November 2004.
2. What is it like to be a delegate at an international meeting?
An IAD officer attending an international meeting must first of all be very well informed of and be fully conversant with the issues to be discussed – it’s a duty and responsibility when you represent the nation’s flag. Next, regardless of the nature on the meeting, that is whether it is a negotiation or conference, it is crucial for the attending officer to be clear of his/her mandate. The officer must also be prepared to work beyond his/her normal working hours as countries and delegations often take the opportunity at these meetings to discuss and resolve as many issues as possible, and thus may meet into the late hours, or in some cases, even to the early hours of the next day! Therefore, it is very important for the attending officer to be in good physical health and to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the tasks at hand.
3. How does IAD prepare for international meetings?
Nothing helps like solid preparation. One of the key preparations for attending international meetings is the Position Paper. The Position Paper would contain the background and purpose of the meeting, identification and analysis of the key legal issues, Malaysia/AGC’s legal position on the matters to be discussed, the justification for participation and financial implications of participation. Usually a Position Paper is prepared by the officer assigned to attend the meeting. Once the Position Paper is prepared, it is submitted to the Attorney General for his approval. AGC’s internal policy of focussing its attendance and participation at meetings where legal issues are on the agenda generally means IAD’s officers are kept fully occupied throughout the proceedings.
4. What is it like working in IAD?
Working in IAD is like working anywhere else except for the area of practice. The practice of international law requires IAD officers to be constantly up to date with current events and developments in international law related matters. Awareness of the state-of-play on international relations is also useful. Additionally, officers have to also be well informed of the various national policies and laws and have a clear understanding of the country’s position on the array of international law related matters. A clear difference with ordinary legal practice is that practising international law sometimes requires IAD officers to travel for meetings, conferences and negotiations. Hence, IAD officers would often find themselves shouldering the responsibility of dealing with international perspectives in order to provide accurate and timely views and advice on legal issues as well as engaging with counterparts from all over the world.
5. Travelling for work: all Glitz and Glamour?
Travelling for work is not all the glitz and glamour it’s made out to be. More often than not IAD officers find their “overseas trips” consisting of the “lovely sights” of the meeting rooms, hotel rooms and airports of the foreign country visited and the only “locals” they meet are the host country’s organizing staff. It also depends on where the officer is travelling to. Travelling to a developed country is less unnerving than travelling to a least developed country where no one speaks English. Riding a tiny Fokker aircraft with chickens because the meeting is set at a small rural town in a least developed country makes the travel certainly an eye-opening experience, and a far cry from the advertised “glitz and glamour” of London, Paris, Monaco and New York.
6. What do IAD officers do?
The basic daily work of an IAD officer would include the following: • preparing legal opinions • drafting and vetting international legal instruments such as conventions, treaties, agreements, memoranda of understanding and declarations • attending international and domestic meetings and negotiations on international legal instruments • drafting and providing legal advice on domestic legislation for the implementation of Malaysia’s international obligations in particular the international legal obligations undertaken under a treaty.
7. What is the key role of IAD?
The IAD is the centralized one-stop centre for all international legal matters. Although the AGC places its Legal Advisers at all federal Ministries and most federal agencies and also as State Legal Advisers, all international law related matters from the Ministries, agencies and States are handled by the IAD. In addition, the IAD assists the Attorney General, as Malaysia’s designated Central Authority, on all requests for mutual assistance in criminal matters made under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2002. A dedicated Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Unit has been established at the IAD for this purpose since 1 September 2005. The Unit is responsible for preparing all Malaysia’s outgoing requests for mutual assistance in criminal matters as well as processing and executing all incoming requests from other countries. Further a dedicated Extradition Unit has also been established since 1 September 2005 to assist the Ministry of Home Affairs in dealing with all extradition requests made to or by Malaysia under the Extradition Act 1992. In addition to handling extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters requests, the IAD also leads the Malaysian delegations that negotiate all Malaysia’s extradition treaties and mutual assistance in criminal matters treaties. A third key component of IAD’s centralized international law role is to advise on and handle all international legal disputes ranging from territorial and boundary disputes to international arbitration cases.
8. What are the functions of the officers in the IAD?
There are eight Units in the IAD which handle specific subject-matters in international law. The core function of the officers in each Unit is to provide legal advice to the Government of Malaysia and its agencies on all aspects relating to international law. The officers also represent the Attorney General's Chambers and the Government of Malaysia in international meetings and work with the Ministries and agencies to harmonize Malaysia's domestic laws with Malaysia's existing obligations under international law. In this regard, the officers provide specific legal advice to Ministries and agencies on the implementation of various international instruments to which Malaysia has become a party, and assists in the drafting of relevant implementing laws. The officers also carry out research on matters pertaining to international law. Besides the above general functions, the officers in certain IAD Units also appear before both domestic and international courts to represent Malaysia in criminal matters, specifically those related to extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters requests, as well as in civil litigation and international disputes. In the international arena, officers from this Division have appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and at other international arbitral tribunals, as required. What does the International Affairs Division (IAD) do?
9. What does the International Affairs Division (IAD) do?
The IAD is the Division in the Attorney General's Chambers which specializes on issues relating to international law. Its objectives include protecting and safeguarding Malaysia's rights and interests in the international arena as well as giving legal advice and views to the Government of Malaysia in accordance with international law and principles taking into account domestic laws and policies and public interest. Further, the Division is also responsible to ensure that Malaysia's international obligations under any agreements, treaties and conventions which have been signed, agreed upon, ratified, acceded to or participated in by the Government of Malaysia are carried out in accordance with constitutional provisions and domestic laws, regulations and policies.