The protection of the rule of law requires that the international criminal justice system focus on two key elements: (i) the substantive objective of ending impunity by bringing war criminals to justice, and (ii) the procedural objective of ensuring a fair trial. The prosecutorial bias inherent in the institutional designs of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and the International Criminal Court (ICC), poses a serious challenge to the individual’s right to a fair trial. In addition to an independent judiciary and prosecution, the international criminal justice system requires an independent legal profession (including both defence and victims’ counsel). The incorporation of a “third pillar” will help to legitimize the new justice system and strengthen the rule of law by providing a formal voice for lawyers and enabling the protection of individual rights. In the same vein, the international community’s commitment to democracy in post-conflict states should include strong measures to protect the institutional, legal and political independence of lawyers.