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.
Today the ASP continued in the morning with a plenary session on cooperation. The first segment of the session was focused on sexual and gender-based violence, whereas the second segment was open to discussion on other issues relating to cooperation. These statements will be made available shortly on the ASP website. Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice made a statement on cooperation as it relates to the Kenya situation. Other statements will be available on the ASP website.
The general debate continued in the afternoon with a number of states made statements in support of the ICC and Rome Statute system and made recommendations for improving the delivery of justice.
In the morning, the Coalition, along with Italy and the European External Action Service (EEAS), hosted a regional breakfast meeting with European civil society and government representatives. Kirsten Meerschaert Duchens, the Coalition’s regional coordinator for Europe and head of office in The Hague, chaired the meeting. Panellists included: Italy’s Judge Mauro Politi, chair of COJUR-ICC; Christian Berhman, EU focal point on the ICC at the EEAS; Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq general director; Olexandra Matviiychuk, chairwoman of the board of the Center for Civil Liberties Ukraine; Oby Nwankwo, Nigerian National Coalition for the ICC; Nancy J. Lopez, Comisión Mexican de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humans and Mexican National Coalition for the ICC; Indri D. Saptaningrum, ELSAM and Indonesian Coalition for the ICC; Elizabeth Rehn, member of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims; and Swiss Ambassador Markus Börlin.
Topics covered included: an update on developments in the European region over the past year, the need to protect the integrity, spirit and principle of the Rome Statute; the role of civil society in promoting the universality and implementation of the Statute; the EU’s role in supporting the ICC system; the need for the EU to work with governments and civil society to raise awareness of the ICC and promote ratification and accountability around the world, including in Indonesia, Mexico, Ukraine and Palestine; the need for EU to support the prosecution of gender based crimes; the role of non-EU European states in the Rome Statute system, such as Switzerland (which announced plans to ratify the Kampala Amendments mid-2015); the importance of the work of the Trust Fund for Victims the UN Human Rights Council.
In the afternoon, a meeting between African governments and civil society was held. The Coalition’s Stephen Lamony chaired the meeting, with statements made by Clément Capo Chichi, Coalition for ICC; Ali Ouattara, Ivoirian Coalition for the ICC; and Stella Ndirangu, Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists. ASP President Sidiki Kaba made an opening address. Government representatives from Nigeria, the DRC and Kenya made interventions. NGOs from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire and the DRC made statements in support of strengthening the Rome Statute and the prioritization of victims’ rights and redress over immunity for heads of state. The need for cooperation from governments and the importance of domestic proceedings for grave crimes was also stressed.
A number of other side events were also held, including one on The OTP’s Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes – Putting Words into Action, which was organized by Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK) and the Office of the Prosecutor. The event was moderated by Brigid Inder in her role as Special Gender Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Panelists included Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the ICC; Baroness Joyce Anelay, UK minister of State; Anders Rönquist, Swedish director-general for legal affairs; and Joan Kagezi, head of the Prosecution Division, War Crimes Unit, High Court of Uganda. Bensouda stated that the policy’s success now depends on its implementation. Baroness Anelay stressed that the OTP and the ICC can set a powerful benchmark for national courts and send a strong political message to governments. As part of its campaign to end sexual violence in conflict and among many initiatives, the UK is lobbying a group of target countries to domestically implement the Rome Statute, including its sexual and gender-based provisions, and another target group to accede to the Statute. Rönquist stressed that it is imperative that all states reinforce national policy commitments and implement laws against sexual and gender-based violence at the domestic level. Kagezi provided a firsthand account of the need for national laws to face many challenges, such as the lack of witness protection provisions in Uganda and the lack of neutral and effective interpreters.
Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands and Slovenia hosted an event on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and the Crime of Genocide – Initiative for a Multilateral Treaty. Bogdan Benko, state secretary of the Slovenian ministry of foreign affairs, introduced an initiative to create a treaty for legal assistance and extradition for domestic prosecution of the most serious international crimes, which would provide a legal framework for states to cooperate on the investigation and prosecution of international crimes in national courts. A number of government representatives, as well as Adama Dieng, UN special advisor on genocide prevention, lent their support to the initiative. Coalition Convenor William Pace expressed the Coalition’s support, underlining the need for cooperation between states.
The Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) and the Human Rights Center at UC Berkley School of Law held organized an Informal Workshop on ICC Intermediaries Guidelines and Proposed NGO Guidelines. Panelists included Alpha Sesay, OSJI, Alexa Koenig, UC Berkley Human Rights Center; and Olivia Bueno, IRRI. Sesay described some of the issues NGOs face when providing assistance to the Court. Bueno discussed IRRI’s work with Court intermediaries, emphasizing the challenges involved and the need for guidelines. Koenig described her organization’s work to improve the working relationship between NGOs working with or as intermediaries and the Office of the Prosecutor.
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and Estonia are held an event on Cooperation and Complementarity: Instruments for Universalizing International Criminal Justice. Jemima Kariri of ISS served as moderator for the panel, which featured Dire Tladi, professor at the University of Pretoria; Ottilia Mauganidze ISS researcher; Max du Plessis defense lawyer for International Criminal Justice, South Africa; and Marcel Bogaard, legal officer and representative of the Netherlands. The discussion centered around the need for cooperation to fill the gaps left by the Rome Statute system. Tladi focused on the need for states to incorporate the Rome Statute into domestic law to allow for national prosecutions of international crimes. Mauganidze discussed how different African states have tackled international crimes domestically, including South Africa’s universal application of the Rome Statute and the DRC’s mobile courts. Du Plessis discussed his work on the Zimbabwe torture case in South Africa, stating that the case demonstrates the importance of domestic legislation and for civil society to pressure the government to enforce the law. Bogaard elaborated on the Netherland’s experiences regarding cooperation and complementarity.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), CCL, IPHR and Lithuania hosted an event entitled, Ukraine: Addressing Impunity, and the ICC. FIDH Vice President Katherine Gallagher served as moderator. Panelists included Roman Romanov of the International Renaissance Foundation, Emeric Rogier of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), and Olexandra Matviichuk and Alexandra Delemenchuk of the Center for Civil Liberties. Matviichuk discussed the alleged crimes committed during Ukraine’s Maidan protests. Romanov discussed Ukrainian civil society’s work to collect evidence of crimes, as well as the state of domestic legal proceedings. Delemenchuk spoke about alleged crimes committed in eastern Ukraine, stressing the importance of ratifying the Rome Statute so that the ICC can have jurisdiction in that area. Rogier discussed the OTP’s preliminary examination in Ukraine, stating that a determination on the legal qualification of the Maidan crimes could be reached during the first half of 2015.
FIDH and CMDPDH also organized an event on Accountability for international crimes committed in Mexico: the ICC as a Possible Remedy for Victims.
Switzerland, Croatia, Germany and the UK organized an event Promoting the Effectiveness of Proceedings of the ICC.
In the evening, Finland, the UK and the Trust Fund for Victims hosted an event and reception on the Trust Fund for Victims’ Strategic Plan and Report on Sexual and Gender-Based Victims.
The American Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Project and the Council on Foreign Relations hosted a panel on Prosecuting Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: New Directions in International Criminal Justice, with a discussion with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and United States Ambassador David Scheffer.
Tomorrow at the ASP
Tomorrow the ASP will begin in the morning with the continuation of judicial elections, in addition to the consideration of the budget, with presentations by both Registrar Herman von Hebel and the chair of the Committee on Budget and Finance, Werner Druml. This meeting will be followed by a consideration of the audit reports.
The Working Group on the Budget will also meet in the morning.
In the afternoon the plenary will likely include the continuation of the general debate and start with informal consultations on the omnibus resolution, followed by a meeting of the Working Group on Amendments and informal consultations on the permanent premises.
A number of side events are also on the agenda.
In the morning, the Coalition is holding a meeting between civil society and Asian and Pacific governments. Guatemala and Liechtenstein will host an event on the Challenges Faced in the Conduct of Financial Criminal Investigations. Additionally, the ICC prosecutor will brief the UN Security Council on the situation in Darfur.
In the afternoon the Coalition will host a meeting between civil society and Latin American governments. Ghana, the Netherlands, Africa Legal Aid and the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists will co-host an event on Cooperation, Defense Perspectives, and Clarifying the Immunity Debate. Italy and No Peace Without Justice will hold an event on Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Libya. Canada and Lawyers Without Borders Canada are organizing an event on Implementing the Rome Statute at the Domestic Level: Exchange of Experiences. Venezuela and the Victims’ Rights Working Group are hosting an event on Victims’ Perspectives on the Role of the Rome Statute in Fulfilling Victims’ Rights and Delivering Reparative Justice.
Lastly, a three-part side event will be organized by Norway, Denmark, Georgia, Germany and the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, including book launches on the Historical Origins of International Criminal Law and the Proposed Crimes Against Humanity Convention; Complementarity in Practice: Georgia and Mexico; and an update on the ICC Legal Tools Project.
In the evening the Coalition will hold a reception in honor of the newly elected ASP president, Sidiki Kaba.
Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice launched its 2014 Gender Report Card on the ICC.
The Institute for Security Studies is holding two events at the ASP.
No Peace Without Justice is convening a side event on Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Libya.
In a Foreign Affairs article, the American Bar Association’s Kip Hale reviewed how the Kenyan government has frustrated the ICC and asked how states parties will respond to the Court’s limitations at ASP 13.
During the ASP discussion on cooperation and sexual and gender-based crimes, Physicians for Human Rights’ Susannah Sirkin stressed the need for proper investigations of difficult cases and reparations.
Judges rejected Côte d’Ivoire’s challenge to the admissibility of the Simone Gbagbo case and reminded the government of its obligation to transfer her to the ICC.
Human Rights Watch called on the Ivoirian government to transfer Gbagbo to the Court.
The case against Charles Blé Goudé was sent to trial.
The ASP Bureau rejected Kenya’s request to add an agenda item on the conduct of the ICC prosecutor and judges.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda took a tough stand against sexual and gender-based violence at the ASP.
Kenya opposed a proposal to create a special police force for the ICC.
Kenya’s UN ambassador defended his country’s cooperation with the ICC.
- CICC Campaign on ICC Elections
- Website of the Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections
- ASP-ICC Website, 13th session of the Assembly of States Parties
Sign up to receive daily ASP updates sent directly to your inbox