Ahead of ASP 14 next week, governments are negotiating the International Criminal Court budget for 2016. So what is is the ICC asking for and what is it likely to get?
ICC budget basics
ICC member states pay a yearly contribution to the ICC based on their gross national income. The ICC Registrar coordinates the initial drafting of the Court’s budget in conjunction with other Court organs. The proposed budget is then submitted to the Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), an independent subsidiary expert body of the ASP.
Evaluating the budgetary needs of a unique international criminal justice institution like the ICC is a very complicated undertaking.
The CBF is an independent expert body responsible for the technical examination of any document, submitted to the Assembly, containing financial or budgetary implications. The Assembly may also entrust to the CBF any other matter of a financial, budgetary or administrative nature. During its bi-annual meetings, the CBF considers and recommend the resources that the Court requires to fulfill its various prosecutorial, judicial, and organizational requirements, as well as its obligations to defendants and victims. The CBF is made up of 12 ASP members, nominated and selected by the ASP based on equitable geographic representation. Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean are allocated two Committee members each. Western Europe and ‘other states’ have four spots between them. At the conclusion of its Fall meeting, the CBF issues recommendations on the ICC’s proposed budget for the next year.
Final approval of the Court’s budget is then given by the ASP at its annual session.
Civil society has long advocated for states to provide the ICC with the resources it needs to fulfil its mandate.
ICC 2016 budget request
The ICC’s proposed 2016 budget amounts to €153.32 million. This represents a €22.66 million or 17.3% increase on the 2015 approved budget and include funds to cover additional investigations and prosecutions.
- The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) requested a €6.47m (16.4%) increase, covering a new active investigation (€3.4m) and the case against Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen (€1.2m).
- The Registry requested a €16.91m (26%) increase, to cover:
- Sustained quality and level of services required by parties to proceedings (€5.6m, including €2.7m for field operations and €2.1m for witness protection and support),
- Support of courtroom activities for live trials (€2.5m),
- Legal aid for indigent defendants and participating witnesses (€3m),
- Maintenance and support functions for the new premises (€3.5m),
- Growing staff costs (€1.2m) and support of the Ongwen confirmation of charges hearing (€600,000).
- The Judiciary requested a €670,000m (5.6%) increase.
- The Trust Fund for Victims requested a €663,400 (36.5%) increase, mainly related to reparations activities.
However, following negative reactions to the 17% budget increase by states, the Court was asked to put forward an alternative proposal for delivery of its mandated activities in a more ‘cost-effective way’. Subsequently, the Court submitted a proposal that was considered by the CBF, based upon which the CBF recommended that the ASP approve a budget of €139.96 million for 2016, representing an increase of 7% compared to the Court’s approved 2015 budget. This is substantially lower than the 17.3% increase requested by the Court.
CBF recommendations for the ICC 2016 budget
The CBF recommends the ASP to approve a €139.96 million for 2016 shows a €9,295,000 increase compared to 2015 approved budget breaks down as follows:
- The Office of the Prosecutor: CBF recommends a €3,839,400 increase
- The Registry: CBF recommends a €7,635,100 increase
- The Judiciary: CBF recommends a €429,900 increase
- The TFV: CBF recommends a €72,600 increase
While the Coalition takes no position on the specific amount of resources that should be allocated to the ICC in any given year, it urges States Parties to treat the CBF’s review and recommendations as the bare minimum approach in their 2016 budget discussions. States Parties should oppose arbitrarily limiting the Court’s 2016 budget which would undermine the ICC’s ability to deliver justice. A lack of resources is a severe impediment to the optimal functioning of the Court.
States in arrears
The issue of states in arrears – or states that have not yet paid in full their contribution to the Court budget – has an impact on the Court’s work when it cannot access its full allocated budget. The ASP discusses this issue throughout the year in a separate facilitation within the New York Working Group, let by Mr. Slavomir Kantor (Slovakia). In the draft Bureau report on the states in arrears, it was set out that by October of 2015, the Court had not yet received €38m or 30% of its contributions for 2015. In comparison, the outstanding contributions around the same time last year ‘only’ stood at €9.5m. In addition, the total outstanding contributions by all States Parties since 2002 amount to an additional €8,151,645.
Discussion on setting a financial envelope
The Coalition’s Team on Budget and Finance expressed in 2014 already extreme concern at the CBF’s recommendation that “states parties consider whether a financial target or envelope should be set at each Assembly meeting that would define the anticipated outer limits of the budget for the year following the one immediately thereafter.” This recommendation allows for a risk that the ICC’s budget process would be driven not by the resource needs of the ICC but by how much States Parties are willing to pay. This approach is entirely inappropriate given the fluctuating workload of the ICC and inconsistent with the Assembly’s important practice of deciding the budget as near as possible to the start of the financial year.
If states parties adopted the recommended approach, it would consider the financial envelope more than a year in advance of the budget period. Moreover, there is a real danger that it would be used to strengthen efforts by a minority of states to impose zero growth on the ICC budget and that the ICC will be denied the flexibility it needs to expand its work when required to respond to impunity. Indeed, if such an envelope were adopted and the ICC decided to request greater resources for further activities in its proposal, states parties that may be politically opposed to such activities could seek to use the envelope as a justification to block the new activities. The Team calls on states parties in The Hague Working Group to expressly reject this recommendation and to continue to decide the annual budget based on the budgetary needs of the ICC in a transparent process with effective safeguards against politicization of the process.
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