The annual Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has finished, having taken place from November 16-24 in The Hague, Netherlands. IntLawGrrls had a team of bloggers at the ASP, whose work in contributing a series of nine posts has now wrapped up.
These posts began with a discussion of the statements by States Parties at the opening of the ASP, in which many states expressed regret regarding the announced withdrawals of South Africa, Burundi and Gambia from the Rome Statute, and of support for the ICC and the anti-impunity project of international criminal law. This post noted that the feared mass withdrawal of African states did not materialize: rather, a number of African states – including Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – reiterated their support for the work of the ICC.
The posts that followed ranged from a discussion of the reasons behind Burundi’s announced withdrawal, the Prosecutor’s preliminary examinations into crimes in Afghanistan and Guinea, the reality of the work of the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims, the Prosecutor’s Policy on Children and complementary efforts to eliminate the use of child soldiers, an interview with Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch (a key nongovernmental figure on international criminal law issues for over two decades), and women on the ICC’s bench.
This last issue will be one – among many – to watch between now and the opening of the next ASP. In 2017, the ASP will elect six new judges. These judges will replace judges whose terms are expiring, five of whom are female (including the current ICC President, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi). With the ICC’s bench currently the most balanced between male and female judges of any international criminal tribunal, the stakes will be high in 2017 in order to maintain this momentum toward gender balance. Another issue to watch will be the ICC’s annual programme budget, which was approved at this ASP at just under €144.6 million (€141.6 million plus Host State Loan), representing a slight increase over the 2016 programme budget of €137.39 million.
Our IntLawGrrls bloggers had several memorable experiences at the ASP, including:
- Attending a session on the protection of human rights defenders and witnessing Gladwell Otieno, director of the Africa Centre for Open Governance, being publicly threatened at the ASP by a senior Kenyan government official for critiquing the Kenyan government’s intimidation of civil society organisations:
- Meeting with representatives of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor and the Canadian section of Avocats sans frontières/Lawyers Without Borders to discuss international criminal justice issues in Colombia. More generally, observing diplomacy through the interactions of different actors: civil society, state representatives and the organs of the Court:
- Attending an event titled “Child Soldiers: Prevention and Accountability” with LGen (Ret’d) Roméo Dallaire, former Commander of the UN Mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide: and
- Discovering the disconnect between the rhetoric of states around victims, and the relative lack of economic and other support by the same states for the Trust Fund for Victims.
We hope that IntLawGrrls readers have enjoyed this symposium on the ICC ASP. Join us again next year for more ASP analysis!
The participation of the IntLawGrrls bloggers to the 15th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through the project “Strengthening Justice for International Crimes: A Canadian Partnership.”