On 23 November the Assembly of States Parties (the Assembly) elected Mr. Geoffrey A. Henderson (Trinidad and Tobago) as judge of the ICC, with a term that will run until 10 March 2021.
At the same meeting the Assembly also elected by consensus the following six experts of the Committee of Budget and Finance: Mr. Juhani Lemmik (Estonia), Mr. David Banyanka (Burundi), Ms. Carolina María Fernández Opazo (Mexico), Mr. Gilles Finkelstein (France), Mr. Gerd Saupe (Germany) and Ms. Helen Louise Warren (United Kingdom). The terms of office of the members will commence on 21 April 2014.
In her opening statement, the President of the Assembly, Ambassador Tiina Intelmannn (Estonia), noted that there are now 122 States Parties to the Rome Statute, with Côte d’Ivoire having joined during the past year, which evidenced the support of the international community to the Court as the cornerstone of international criminal justice. Ambassador Intelmann stressed that the Assembly should address the challenges faced by the Court and by the whole Rome Statute system, especially the ones related to universality, cooperation and financial constraints.
At the opening session, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, emphasized that we live in an age of accountability where ”international criminal justice has become an integral part of the architecture of international relations; and the International Criminal Court is its centerpiece”. The message continued with the affirmation of the UN Secretary General’s “commitment to the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, to the Assembly and to the Court and the invaluable work it has done in the fight against impunity”.
For his part, the Secretary-General of l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, Mr. Abdou Diouf, recalled that 54 out of 74 of its member States had become parties to the Rome Statute and that the OIF support, inter alia, to the ICC is given via high level training seminars and in the process of dialogue and discussions with the African Union. He argued for the respect of legal cultures and the gains in efficiency that could be attained by drawing inspiration from the best of different legal systems.
In her remarks, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, highlighted that “achieving the universal ratification of the Rome Treaty is necessary to broaden the reach of the ICC, turn the Court into a truly universal one, and ensure that there is accountability for all”. She also reminded the Assembly that “failure to secure accountability for victims of human rights violations and other international crimes does critical harm not only to the victims, but also to society at large”.
The President of the Court, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, observed that the Assembly was the proper forum for all stakeholders to consider the challenges being faced by the system of international criminal justice. He also reported that the Court had been efficient and rigorous in implementing its budget and noted that the budget recommendations of the Committee on Budget and Finance would provide the Court with an appropriate minimum of resources necessary to discharge its mandate next year without compromising essential prosecutorial and judicial work.
The Prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, inter alia, reaffirmed that her office will continue “to act solely upon the evidence and the applicable legal principles, within the framework of the Rome Statute, with sensitivity to the interests of victims and witnesses, fairness toward accused persons” and respect for the Court’s obligations to the international community.
The Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims, Mr. Motoo Noguchi, noted that the Trust Fund had expanded the beneficiaries under the assistance mandate from 80,000 to over 110,000 and that most of the projects have incorporated both gender and child-specific interventions to support the special vulnerability of women and children.
During the general debate 65 States, as well as the Organization of American States, the Council of Europe and NGOs addressed the Assembly. A number of States referred to concrete progress achieved in the domestic implementation of the Rome Statute crimes. States also widely underscored their primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes under international law. States also reaffirmed their commitment to fight against impunity for Rome Statute crimes, to protecting the integrity of the Statute, and highlighted the importance of cooperation with the Court, witness protection, the execution of outstanding arrest warrants, the need to achieve universality of the Rome Statute and the need for the Assembly to discuss and seek the way forward on the concerns which had been voiced by members of the African Union. Pledges totalling over €5,9 million were made for the Trust Fund for Victims: €4 million by Sweden, €1 million by the Netherlands and €900,000 by Germany.
On 21 November during a five and a half hour session, the Assembly considered an item entitled “Special Segment as requested by the African Union: ‘Indictment of sitting Heads of State and Government and its consequences on peace and stability and reconciliation’”. The special segment, which was moderated by the first President of the Assembly, H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein (Jordan) had panel presentations by Amb. Rolf Einar Fife (Norway), by Ms. Djeneba Diarra, African Union Commission Legal Counsel, Honorable Mr. Githu Muigai, Attorney General of Kenya, Prof. Cherif Bassiouni, Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the 1998 Rome UN Diplomatic Conference which established the ICC, and assistant professor Charles C. Jalloh, an academic expert on ICC-Africa issues.
On 22 November, the Assembly also held for the first time since the 2010 Review Conference, a plenary session dedicated to victims, focusing on participation, reparation and communication. At another plenary session on cooperation, the Assembly discussed means to strengthen State support to witness protection.
The Assembly’s twelfth session is being held in The Hague, Netherlands, from 20 to 28 November 2013.
For additional information please contact Ms. Kristina Csiki Helg at +31 6 46448731 or via email at [email protected].