Despite the fact that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was created in 1993, the Defence Counsel were not collectively represented until September 2002.
The Judges felt that there was a need to have an association, which could first ensure a higher quality for Defence Counsel and make collective representations to the organs of the Tribunal on behalf of all Defence Counsel involved in cases. Moreover, it was necessary to have such an association in the context of the Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel Appearing Before the International Tribunal the Judges adopted and its associated Disciplinary mechanism.
The Judges adopted modifications to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, making membership of a recognised association of Counsel a necessary requirement to be put on the so-called Rule 45 List (list of qualified counsel). This requirement can be found in Rule 44 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
Ongoing discussions further shaped the form of an Association dealing with issues such as legal status, disciplinary framework, the ICTY Code of Professional Conduct for Defence Counsel and compulsory membership. These discussions resulted in a final proposal for a Statute developed by an Ad-Hoc Working Group consisting of the President of the ICTY, Judge Jorda, Judges Hunt and Orie, the then Deputy Registrar, Mr. Christian Rhode (Registry), and Mr. Tomislav Visnjic (Defence Counsel).
Further to the Judges' modifications to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the initiative to create the ADC-ICTY has developed as follows. Initially a working group of acting Defence Counsel consisting of Ms. Residovic (Sarajevo), Ms. Slokovic-Glumac (Zagreb), Mr. Visnjic (Belgrade), Mr. Morrison (Birmingham), a representative of the Dutch Bar Association and a representative from the Registry of the Tribunal developed a draft statute for an association in January of 2002.
At the Judges plenary meeting of July 2002 the Tribunal specific Association of Defence Counsel was endorsed. This resulted in an amendment to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence to require Counsel's membership in the Association of Defence Counsel, which was itself established under Dutch law on 20 September 2002 by the first General Assembly of the ADC-ICTY.
The first General Assembly adopted the Constitution and elected the first Executive Committee, consisting of Mr. John Ackerman (President), Mr. Kresimir Krsnik, Mr. Slobodan Zecevic, Mr. Stefan Kirsch and Mr. Branko Lukic.
In December 2012, the Registrar recognised the ADC-ICTY as an Association of Counsel practising before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) pursuant to Rule 42 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. This recognition was officially confirmed in August 2015.
In December 2016, the General Assembly of the ADC-ICTY voted to adopt an amended Constitution which renamed the Association as the 'Association of Defence Counsel practising before the International Courts and Tribunals' or 'ADC-ICT'. The new name was recognised by the Registrar of the IRMCT as the only official association of defence counsel practising before the IRMCT.