UN Secretary General, ICC President and Prosecutor call for global justice effort

Assembly of States Parties 2017

4 December 2017

Opening Statements

Opening Session

On 4 December, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) President Sidiki Kaba of Senegal opened the 16th ASP session. In his last opening address to the ICC member states and other stakeholders in the Rome Statute system, including civil society in attendence, the ASP President painted a broad picture of discussions in the two weeks ahead: around financial support to make ICC investigations; reiterating the role of the ICC as a Court-of-last-resort (complementarity); calling on states to act wisely and to activate the Court's exercise of jurisdiction over the crime of aggression; and noting that crimes continue around the world at an alarming rate, with international security at stake. In his address to the 16th ASP session, which precedes the year of the Rome Statute's 20th anniversary, President Kaba commended the Coalition for the ICC and its Convenor for work since 1995 to make the ICC happen in the first place.


UN Secretary-General

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres followed the ASP President by pointing out the UN's shared goals with the ICC and Rome Statute, and in particular the importance of international justice as an essential tool in its own right to achieve peace, security and human rights worldwide. The Secretary-General specifically issued an appeal for states to achieve universal ratification of the Rome Statute, highlighted the role of civil society in the Rome Statute system, and reminded participants of the challenging and complicated nature of the ICC's mandates in approaching discussions around the future of this unique institution on the world stage.


ICC President 

The ICC President, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, reflected on some of the achievements of the judges under her presidency. The ICC President's remarks touched on, among others, the "One-Court" principle developments under her term toward the most effective implementation possible of the Court's various mandates. Judge Fernández also noted the establishment of the Independent Oversight Mechanism to improve accountability and transparency of the Court's organs. 


ICC Prosecutor 

In her opening address to the 16th ASP session, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reflected on some of the biggest achievements in the work of the Office of the Prosecutor since 2016, from the issuing of two new arrest warrants, to convictions, to the opening of the OTP investigation in Burundi prior to the government's withdrawal from the Rome Statute. The Prosecutor also laid out the critical decisions before the ICC member states this year that will have potential to shape the direction of the Court both strategically and administratively: the election of judges; the election of new ASP expert budget committee members; and the decision on a new ASP President and Vice-Presidents, to name a few. The Prosecutor noted that the OTP has an interest in all these decisions, but that her office will be most affected by states' decisions on the ICC budget as well as their exchanges on cooperation.

The Prosecutor highlighted that the ICC is a firmly rooted but still evolving institution, and incomparable in its potential with respect to addressing grave crimes. She thus called on all stakeholders to stay with the ICC on this forward path to foster a culture of accountability and protection under international criminal law.


Chairperson of the Board of Director of the Trust Fund For Victims

Mr. Motoo Nguchi of Japan, the Chairman of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), highlighted the work of TFV Board of Directors in 2017, as well as the activities of the TFV Secretariat. Specifically, the Chairman broadly described the TFV's planned comprehensive assistance throughout Côte d'Ivoire; plans and missions to Georgia to develop assistance in that situation; and high-level visits by the Court and TFV board to situation countries to better understand the impact of ICC processes on affected communities. With hundreds of victims waiting for assistance from the TFV, and due to findings of indigence in all of the ICC convictions thus far, the Chairman noted that the TFV has agreed to complement Court-ordered reparations in several cases. He reminded, however, that with the Jean-Pierre Bemba case expected to enter the reparations stage next year with its over 5000 participating victims, it will be more important than ever to bolster ICC member states' voluntary contributions to the TFV in 2018.

Side Events

The Coalition for the ICC held its traditional reception during the lunch hour on the first day of ASP16. The event was co-hosted by Senegal and the Republic of Korea, and brought together everyone from ICC member state delegations to civil society representatives and representatives from all three organs of the Court. Mr. William Pace, the Coalition Convenor, together with ICC President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi and ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, honored both current ASP President Mr. Sidiki Kaba and incoming President Mr. O-Gon Kwon. Current Registrar Mr. Herman von Hebel also took the stage to honor and address the attendees.

In other side events, participants in ICTY Commemoration: Reflections on 24 Years of Fighting Impunity Through International Court and Tribunals heard remarks from Mr. Sebastiano Cardi, the permanent representative of Italy to the UN, and a keynote speech from Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel. Mr. Stephen Mathias, the Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, moderated a panel discussion with ICTY President Judge Carmel Agius, ICTY/MICT Prosecutor Mr. Serge Brammertz and ICTY Registrar Mr. John Hocking. Mr. Elbio Rosselli, Security Council Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, and Ambassador of the Netherlands to the UN Mr. Karel van Oosterom also addressed the room. Speakers reflected on the contributions that the Tribunal has made to the development of international criminal law. The ICTY will close its doors at the end of this year.

Also taking place Monday was a meeting organized by the government of Georgia to discuss the main issues and the key challenges confronting the ICC investigation in Georgia (Situation in Georgia: Progress and Challenges of Investigation). Topics covered by the side event included the ICC Prosecutor's request for authorization of an investigation in Georgia, the Pre-Trial decision authorizing the investigation in 2016, the alleged crimes and public outreach activities for affected communities. Mr. Gocha Lordkipanidze, the Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia, delivered a presentation during the event.

Also taking place on day one was an event organized by Finland and Uganda together with Justice Rapid Response on the topic of the professionalization of the investigation of international crimes, while Amnesty International held a reception to launch its Human Rights in International Justice Project.

News: Elections at ASP 16

Election of six new ICC judges

Prior to the first round of voting to elect six new judges to the ICC bench for nine-year terms, outgoing ASP Vice-President Sergio Ugalde (Costa Rica) laid out the status of arrears, or outstanding assessed contributions, among the ICC member states, pointing out that five, because they requested special exceptions, would be eligible to vote for the judicial candidates despite their level of arrears. Venezuela, Vanuatu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), meanwhile, would be ineligible having failed to submit requests of their own. After the first voting round, the DRC requested and was granted an exception allowing it to vote moving forward.

After one round of voting, two judicial candidates - Ms. Tomoko Akane (Japan, List A) and Ms. Luz del Carmen Ibánez Carranza (Peru, List A) - were elected to the ICC bench having each been marked on the ballots of over 2/3 of the ICC member states present and voting. Following the first round, states were left with a minimum voting requirement (MVR) for three female candidates, one candidate from Africa and one 'List B' candidate.

During the second round of voting, no additional candidates received the required majority - meaning judicial elections would pick up again on Tuesday, 5 December with the MVRs following round one intact. The MVRs for gender and geography only apply through four rounds of voting.


Decision on new ASP Bureau and ASP Presidency

Judge O-Gon Kwon (Republic of Korea) was appointed by consensus as the new ASP President, taking the helm from Mr. Sidiki Kaba (Senegal) after the completion of his three-year term. In his opening address to the ICC member states, Judge Kwon promised that under his stewardship he would look to take the ICC in a direction of greater cooperation from states, universality of the Rome Statute and continuing collaboration with civil society toward these goals.

In the election of 18 new ASP Bureau members, ICC member states appointed the following states by consensus: Estonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Palestine, Japan, Australia, Austria, Denmark, France and The Netherlands. For two seats remaining for the group of Latin American and Caribbean states, the group was unable to reach consensus during the opening session and deferred completion of the election of the Bureau until a later date during the 16th ASP session. The appointment of two new ASP Vice-Presidents, one to coordinate the Bureau working group in The Hague, the other for that in New York, was similarly postponed until a later time.


Election of Committee on Budget and Finance members

Elections took place on day one to fill six vacant seats on the geographically representative 12-member Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), a body charged with giving the ICC member states technical financial expertise toward its decisions on the annual ICC budget. Canada's candidate Ms. Neelu Shankar withdrew her candidacy while Sweden's candidate Ms. Ingrid Eiken Holmgren took the seat reserved for an expert from western Europe, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

For three candidates vying for two seats from Asia-Pacific, the group of states devised the following system to share the two seats between the three candidates: from April 2018 to April 2019, Mr. Hitoshi Kozaki (Japan) and Mr. Fawzi A. Gharaibeh (Jordan) would occupy the seats; from April 2019 to April 2020, Mr. Kozaki and Ms. Janet Braganza Abuel (Philippines); and from April 2020 to April 2021, Mr. Gharaibeh and Ms. Abuel. Meanwhile Ms. Margaret Wambui Ngugi Shava (Kenya), Ms. Mónica Sánchez Izquierdo (Ecuador) and Ms. Elena Sopková (Slovakia) were appointed as consensus candidates from their respective regions.

Tomorrow at the ASP 

Looking ahead to the second day of the 16th ASP session, the member states will pick up where they left off after two rounds of voting on Monday, 4 December for six new judges. Meanwhile, the first meeting of ASP16 to discuss activation of the Court's exercise of jurisdiction over the crime of aggression will take place from 5:00 to 6:00 pm.

View the full ASP Agenda 2017

All ASP 2017 information and documents.