Major changeover in leadership of Rome Statute system: ASP 13 elections must be fair, transparent and merit-based

Delegates cast their ballots during elections held at the 12th session of the Assembly of States Parties. © CICC

Delegates cast their ballots during elections held at the 12th session of the Assembly of States Parties. © CICC

For any institution to be efficient and effective, it needs to employ the most highly qualified people. That’s why ICC member states meeting in New York next week must elect the best candidates to the numerous leadership positions in the Rome Statute system of international justice.

Fair, transparent and merit-based elections crucial to ICC system
From 8-17 December, governments will meet for the 13th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP)—the ICC’s governing body. Among the many responsibilities of the Assembly is the election of ASP and ICC officials, including judges.

As the ICC enters a new stage of development, it faces heightened scrutiny and demands that it be fair, independent and effective. It is more important than ever that the election of Court officials be fair, transparent and merit-based.

Wanted: the most qualified judges
This year, six new judges will be elected.

We’ve been urging states to nominate and elect the most highly qualified candidates to the judges’ bench. The 17 candidates this year have each responded to Coalition questionnaires detailing their qualifications, and the majority participated in panel discussions we held for governments and civil society.

The ASP’s own Advisory Committee on Nominations issued a report providing an impartial assessment of the nominees, which states must carefully consider.

The ICC is entering its second decade, with its first batch of trials coming to an end. In order to deal with particularly complex legal processes and make the Court’s proceedings as efficient as possible, it is incumbent upon member states to cast their votes next week for those candidates they believe most qualified for the bench.

Senegalese justice minister set to become next ASP president
On the first day of the 13th ASP session, the Assembly will elect a new ASP President, two ASP Vice-Presidents and 18 members of the ASP’s Bureau, the inter-sessional decision-making body of the Assembly.

The consensus choice to be the next leader of the Assembly is Senegal’s minister of justice Sidiki Kaba. With the backing of 34 African states parties, as well as the Bureau of the ASP, Kaba was identified as the consensus candidate after much consultation within the States Parties. He will replace current ASP President Ambassador Tiina Intelmann (Estonia).

Kaba’s term, which starts immediately on the first day of the ASP and runs until 2017, will focus on four key areas:

  • Relations between the ICC and Africa;
  • Cooperation with the Court;
  • Complementarity; and
  • Universality of the Rome.

Ambassador Álvaro Moertzinger of Uruguay has been designated as the vice president of the Assembly and coordinator of The Hague Working Group for the next triennium and will also be elected on the first day of the ASP. The vice president based in New York still has to be designated.

Budget committee election features few candidates
The Assembly will also elect six new members of the Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF)—the body responsible for issuing recommendations for the ICC’s annual budget.

The ability of the Court and its organs to carry out its work—and ultimately to remain an independent international justice mechanism—is based on the Committee’s findings. Unfortunately, the elections for this important oversight body have proven to be uncompetitive.

Only seven candidates are vying for the six open spots.

This lack of choice is of serious concern to civil society. The CBF role is crucial to the ICC’s effectiveness, and deserves more competitive elections to find the best people for the job.

Read the Coalition’s Team on Elections’ comments and recommendations to the ASP

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