On September 20, 2013 the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (“the President”), Tiina Intelmann, sent a letter to the Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
In the letter, the President made reference to a previous exchange of letters between the Chairperson of the African Union and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on one side and the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, on the other. These letters regarded the decision of the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held from May 26-27, 2013, and concerns surrounding proceedings currently underway at the International Criminal Court.
In her letter, the President of the Assembly wrote:
“The Assembly of States Parties, where all 122 States Parties are equally represented, carries out essential functions for the overall [Rome Statute] system which include, inter alia, providing a forum for an exchange of views of issues of concern to States”.
Stating her continued openness and availability to all States Parties, and referring to the Assembly of States Parties annual meeting due to take place in The Hague, Netherlands, from November 20-28, 2013, the President wrote:
“The Assembly session provides an important opportunity to have political discussion[s] of issues concerning the Rome Statute, and it is also a place where decisions within the mandate of the Assembly, including the legal framework [of the ICC], are taken. I hope that any meetings of the African Union or of African States Parties [to the Rome Statute] prior to 20 November would focus on consolidating suggestions to be presented to all States Parties, bringing forward ideas and concrete proposals for action to the Assembly.”
In her letter President Intelmann noted that the Rome Statute was the result of thorough and intense negotiations between State representatives. It constitutes a major achievement in the field of international law in the second half of the twentieth century, a monumental endeavor made possible with key contributions from African States.
Furthermore, speaking in New York on September 30, the President stressed that statements during the UN General Assembly high-level week had amply demonstrated the need to engage in a dialogue amongst all 122 States Parties to the Rome Statute – the stakeholders in the International Criminal Court.
The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.