The fifth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“the Assembly”) opened on 23 November at the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague. The President of the Assembly, H.E. Mr. Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, opened the session, which will last until 1 December 2006.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Stagno Ugarte welcomed the fact that since the fourth resumed session in January 2006 four States, namely Chad, Comoros, Montenegro and Saint Kitts and Nevis had become Parties to the Rome Statute, bringing the total number of States Parties to 104.
The Assembly adopted its agenda for the session and agreed on the organization of work. The main issues for consideration by the Assembly include: adoption of the budget of the Court for 2007; discussion of the crime of aggression; the draft headquarters agreement between the Court and the Netherlands; the Strategic Plan of the Court; the permanent premises of the Court; election of the members of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims; and a preliminary discussion on the Review Conference of the Rome Statute.
The Assembly was addressed by the President of the Court, Judge Philippe Kirsch, by the Prosecutor of the Court, Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and by the Registrar, Mr. Bruno Cathala. Madame Simone Veil, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims also presented a report on the activities of the Board to the Assembly.
For the first time, this session includes a two-day segment devoted to a general debate in which States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations address the Assembly. At the beginning of the debate, the President of the Assembly delivered a message on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, emphasizing the Court’s substantial progress and rapid development into the centrepiece of a truly international system of criminal justice.
During the first and second meetings of the general debate held on 23 November, the following States took the floor: Serbia, Australia (on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand), Finland (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Spain, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Jordan, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Uganda, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Poland, Trinidad and Tobago, Hungary, Benin, Italy, Peru, Sierra Leone, Republic of Korea, Barbados, Belgium, Mexico, Paraguay, Japan and Guatemala.
At the second meeting of the general debate, the following intergovernmental organizations addressed the Assembly: ICPO-Interpol, International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Assembly of States Parties is the management oversight and legislative body of the International Criminal Court. It is composed of representatives of the States that have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute. The Assembly has a Bureau, consisting of a President, two Vice-Presidents and 18 members, elected for a three-year term. The Assembly held its first and second sessions at United Nations Headquarters, while the third and fourth sessions were held in The Hague.
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