ASP 13 Day Three: General debate begins as elections continue

A government representative speaks during the general debate at the Assembly of States Parties. © CICC/Gabriella Chamberland

A government representative speaks during the general debate at the Assembly of States Parties. © CICC/Gabriella Chamberland

The 13th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) continued today at the United Nations in New York. The Assembly will run until 17 December.

We bring you a summary of today’s ASP plenary, elections and side events, as well as news coverage, documents and websites.

Advocacy papers produced by Coalition teams, as well as individual members’ recommendations to the ASP are available on the our website. Official ASP documents and journals can be found on theICC-ASP website.

Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #ASP13 for real time updates and view images from the Assembly on Flickr.

Plenary session
The third day of the ASP commenced with the general debate, giving states parties, non-states parties, as well as regional and international organizations the opportunity to address topical issues in relation to the Assembly’s work and the Rome Statute system, as well as their own contribution in this regard. During the morning’s session, the following states parties took the floor: Slovenia, South Africa, Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Mexico, Ghana, Samoa, Poland, Malawi, Australia, Canada, Namibia, Italy (speaking on behalf of the European Union), Republic of Korea, Finland, Germany, Zambia, Switzerland, Georgia and Uganda.

In the afternoon, judicial elections continued with the fifth round of balloting. No judges were elected in the fifth round. Following the fifth round, Lithuania withdrew its candidate. In the sixth round of voting, Bertram Schmitt of Germany was elected wth 79 votes, and Marc Perrin de Brichambaut was elected with 87 votes.

No judges were elected in the seventh round of voting. The Assembly must still elect two more judges.

Find out more about our campaign to ensure the election of the highest qualified ICC judges

Side events
In the afternoon a number of side events took place.

Liechtenstein and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) organized an event on First Responders and Digital Evidence. Panelists included Stefan Barriga, deputy permanent representative of Liechtenstein to the UN; James Stewart, deputy prosecutor of the ICC; James Goldston, executive director of OSJI; Alison Cole, OSJI, Scott Edwards, Amnesty International; Alexa Koenig, Berkeley Center for Human Rights; Sucharita Varanasi, Physicians for Human Rights; and Tanya Karanasios, WITNESS. Deputy Prosecutor Stewart discussed how the Office of the Prosecutor is increasing its capabilities to use digital evidence. Koenig elaborated on how documentary evidence can be more effective than witnesses, and stressed the need for NGO assistance and support. Cole further discussed how digitial evidence might be used, and noted that legal rules might need to be adapted. Karanasios spoke about WITNESS’ work with crowd-sourced imagery as evidence, including an ongoing project to develop a field guide to using video as evidence. She also discussed the limitations of digital evidence. Varanasi discussed Physicians for Human Rights’ work with medical evidence, including the development of a mobile forensic app for documentation of evidence. Edwards elaborated on Amnesty International’s use of satellite andn video evidence in Darfur, noting the challenges and limitations involved.

Finland, the Institute for Security Studies and REDRESS organized an event on the Participatory Rights of Victims of International Crimes in National Criminal Justice Systems: Prospects for Effective Complementarity. Panelists included Allan Nagri, REDRESS; Amanda Rawls, American Bar Association; Nurin Sakaraty, Center for Justice and Accountability; and Jane Adong, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. Ambassador to the Netherlands Liisa Talonpoika of Finland welcomed participants, after which Ngari offered an introduction, setting out that there is a vast array of participatory rights for victims of the gravest crimes in trials at the international level. However, these rights are often very limited or non-existent at the national level. Before turning the floor to the panelists, Gaelle Carayon of REDRESS continued by giving context and background on victims participation at the international and national levels. Rawls set out victims participation rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including in national proceedings and the role of the American Bar Association in this regard. Sarkarati set out the many challenges victims face to participate in criminal proceedings for the gravest crimes in the United States. Adong discussed the obstacles of victims rights in proceedings in Uganda. ASP President Sidiki Kaba took a place on the panel to stress the importance of the right of victims to participate in criminal proceedings for the gravest crimes, and noted the importance of the Hissene Habré case.

The Netherlands and Norway organized an event on Cooperation. Jan Luca Van Hoorn, permanent representative of the Netherlands to international organizations in The Hague, chaired the meeting. Speakers included Anniken Krutnes, ambassador of Norway to the Netherlands and facilitator for cooperation; Herman von Hebel, ICC registrar; Nigel Verrill, chief of the ICC Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU); Denise Neves Abade, Brazilian federal prosecutor and member of Brazil’s executive board of the General Prosecutor’s Office for International Cooperation; and Charity Kagwi, program manager officer for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Ambassador Krutnes discussed her role as facilitator for cooperation, stating that she has held meetings with 40 states to discuss witness protection. Von Hebel stressed the need for ICC states parties to sign witness relocation agreements, noting that 60 witnesses were relocated this year, four times the number of states that have signed agreements. Verrill further discussed the need for relocation agreements, mentioning major challenges his office faces when relocating witnesses and their families, such as providing education and health services. Neves Abade discussed Brazil’s experience with witness protection and international relocation, noting the need for increased cooperation between states. Kagwi elaborated on the UNODC’s experience with witness protection and its work with the ICC. She highlighted the training and support the UNODC provided to the Kenyan government following the 2007-08 post-election violence.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) held an event to celebrate its 20th anniversary and launch its new website. A number of ICTR judges, the ICTR prosecutor and the permanent representative of Rwanda to the UN reflected on the tribunal and its legacy. ICC President Sang-Hyun Song spoke about the impact the ICTR and other ad hoc tribunals have had on the ICC.

Italy and No Peace Without Justice organized an event on Accountability for Syria: Options and Preparations. The panel included Christian Wenaweser, permanent representative of Liechtenstein to the UN; Radwan Ziadeh, Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies; and William Spencer, founder and director of Institute for International Law and Human Rights. Ambassador Wenaweser discussed the effort to refer Syria to ICC. Ziadeh discussed the creation of a database of alleged human rights violations and stressed the need for the justice process to be led by Syrians. He also spoke on his organization’s support for the creation of an ad hoc tribunal. Spencer compared the situations in Syria and Iraq.

In the evening the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice launched its 2014 Gender Report Card on the ICC 2014.

Lastly an event on the Promotion of Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Forging Effective and Efficient Litigation of International Atrocity Crimes was organized by The Netherlands together with the International Criminal Justice Consortium.

Tomorrow at the ASP
Tomorrow the ASP will continue in the morning with a plenary session on cooperation. The first segment of the session will be focussed on sexual and gender based violence, whereas the second segment will be open to discussions on other issues relating to cooperation. The general debate will continue in the afternoon.

The Coalition will be organizing two regional meetings during day four of the ASP. In the morning, civil society will meet with European governments, while in the afternoon, a meeting between African governments and civil society will be held.

A number of other side events will also be held tomorrow, including one on The  OTP’s  Policy  Paper  on  Sexual  and  Gender – Based  Crimes  –  Putting Words into Action, which will be organized by Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK) and the Office of the Prosecutor. In the evening, Finland, the UK and the Trust Fund for Victims will organize an event and reception on the Trust Fund for Victims Strategic Plan and Report on Sexual and Gender-Based (SGBV) Victims. Switzerland, Croatia, Germany and the UK will host Promoting the Effectivness of Proceedings of the ICC. The Institute for Security Studies and Estonia are organizing an event on Cooperation and Complementarity: Instruments for Universalizing International Criminal Justice. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH),CCL, IPHR and Lithuania will hold an event entitled, Ukraine: Addressing Impunity, and the ICC. FIDH and CMDPDH will also hold an event on Mexico and the ICC.

The Coalition celebrated Human Rights Day, calling on states to join the ICC.

Following its approval as an observer state at the ASP, Amnesty International called on Palestine tojoin the ICC.

Israel downplayed the significance of Palestine participating at the ASP as an observer state.

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice released “Kenya’s 7-Step Formula for Impunity,” detailing how the Kenyan government obstructed ICC investigations.

In the Saif Gaddafi case, ICC judges issued a finding of non-compliance for the Libyan government and referred the matter to the UN Security Council.

The ICC president issued a statement on Human Rights Day, stating that the Rome Statute reflects the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICC serves to defend some of those rights.

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