Day 9 (14 December) was the final day of the 2017 International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties (ASP) session. It ended in the very early morning hours of 15 December with the consensus adoption of a resolution activating the crime of aggression in the Rome Statute effective 17 July 2018, the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute. Under the compromise adopted by the ASP, the ICC’s exercise of jurisdiction over the crime of aggression only applies to nationals of ICC Member States that have ratified the amendments:
Confirms that, in accordance with the Rome Statute, the amendments to the Statute regarding the crime of aggression adopted at the Kampala Review Conference enter into force for those States Parties which have accepted the amendments one year after the deposit of their instruments of ratification or acceptance and that in the case of a State referral or propio motu investigation the Court shall not exercise its jurisdiction regarding a crime of aggression when committed by a national or on the territory of a State Party that has not ratified or accepted these amendments
However, ICC judges maintain their independence in ruling on jurisdictional matters (see para 3). As well, referrals from the UN Security Council have no jurisdictional limitations.
The negotiations and country positions on the aggression compromise are discussed in more detail here by Silviana Cocan as part of this Symposium. As well, see the always excellent Dapo Akande over at EJIL Talk!.
The final day also included the adoption of a number of other resolutions on cooperation (see Milena Sterio’s excellent IntLawGrrls post on this topic), victims, legal aid (launching a consultation process for revision) and the 2018 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute.
The 2017 ASP was productive and a watershed year. Six new judges were elected, five of whom are female. Kirsten Meersschaert, Director of Programs at the Coalition for the ICC commended this outcome: “Having balanced gender representation on the ICC bench is not only conducive, but essential to ensuring more representative justice.” As well, a new ASP President was chosen, and two new Vice-Presidents.
The ASP also adopted amendments to the Rome Statute proposed by Belgium, adding to the list of war crimes:
- Employing weapons, which use microbial or other biological agents, or toxins, whatever their origin or method of production;
- Employing weapons the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays; and
- Employing laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices.
However, states did not include landmines in the list of prohibited weapons.
The ASP adopted a 2018 ICC budget of €147,431.5 million, representing a small increase of 1.47% over 2017. This gives rise to concerns that the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor is not being provided with sufficient resources to increase its investigation load in line with both need and demand.
In sum, the 16th session of the ASP set the Court forward on a number of matters, but also clearly identified the challenges for 2018.
It has been a pleasure working with a team of people on this IntLawGrrls ICC ASP Symposium. Thanks are extended to IntLawGrrls Milena Sterio, Sara Wharton and Rosemary Grey for their posts. As well, I am grateful for the many blog posts prepared by the members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ): Silviana Cocan, Sophie Gagné, Geneviève Geneau, Jenny Poon, Isabelle Jacovella Rémillard, Catherine Savard, Nicole Tuczynski and Annika Weikinnis. I wish to thank Erick Sullivan of the CPIJ for his behind-the-scenes coordination.