To commemorate the Day of International Criminal Justice, H.E. Mr. Sidiki Kaba, President of the Assembly of States Parties (the "President") convened, on 17 July 2017, a high-level conference in Dakar, Senegal, on the "Challenges and Opportunities for the ICC on the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute". The event was organized with the financial support of the European Union and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Panellists included the Ministers of Justice of Gambia, Guinea and Togo, representatives of the Ministries of Justice of Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau and Zambia, a former President of the International Criminal Court (the "ICC"), the Prosecutor of the ICC, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly of States Parties (the "Assembly"), the Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Residual Mechanism, a representative of the Defence Office of the ICC and the Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims. Lawyers, members of the judiciary and members of the academic community, representatives from diplomatic missions and from civil society groups from Africa and elsewhere also took part in the event.
In the context of the discussions on the ICC's future challenges and opportunities, the debates focused on four main themes: the relationship between Africa and the ICC, cooperation with the ICC, complementarity and the universality of the Rome Statute.
Mr. Cheick Sako, Minister of Justice of Guinea, advocated fighting against preconceived ideas and for the improvement in the functioning of the Court so as to strengthen relations between African States and the ICC in the future. On the question of cooperation, Mr. Philippe Kirsch, former President of the ICC, recalled that the Court cannot fulfil its mandate in an effective way unless it can count on the cooperation of all stakeholders as well as on sufficient funding.
Mr. Aboubacar Tambadou, Minister of Justice of Gambia, shared the experience of his country in terms of complementarity. Ms. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the ICC, for her part, recalled that the ICC does not play a subsidiary role vis-à-vis national and regional jurisdictions, but rather a complementary one, and urged all States Parties to renew their support for and commitment towards the Court.
On the topic of universality, Ambassador Ugalde (Costa Rica), Vice-President of the Assembly, underscored the factors that had held back the progress made in terms of ratification, and invited non-Party States to ratify or adhere to the Rome Statute of the ICC. Mr. Pieter de Baan, Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims, for his part, called for more States to make voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund in order to provide support to victims.
At the close of the conference, President Kaba welcomed the constructive dialogue and exchanges that had resulted from the debates and encouraged all stakeholders to work together to enable the Court to fulfil its mandate in the face of its many current and future challenges. President Kaba concluded with the following words: "Let us recall that the creation of the International Criminal Court arose from a universal need to provide justice to victims of crimes that offend the conscience of humanity, and that in a world where impunity for such crimes persists, the Court remains more relevant than ever and thus needs everyone's support".