ASP 15 Day Two - Stand united for justice, urges civil society

Chino Obiagwi of the Nigerian national Coalition for the ICC called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic, and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African states in the ICC system

The second day of the annual Assembly of States Parties continued in The Hague today, with the continuation of general debate statements by governments and civil society, along with several side events.

Throughout the Assembly we bring you daily summaries the plenary sessions, side events, and other key developments, as well as related news coverage, documents, and websites.

Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #ASP15 for real time updates from the Assembly.

See our curated Twitter collection for highlights from ASP Day 2

 

PLENARY SESSION

General debate - morning session
Today, the general debate continued with both statements from states and civil society, focusing on the independence of the ICC, cooperation, the issue of withdrawals, and its functioning, among other matters.

There was an overwhelming show of support among ICC member states for the key role of the ICC in the fight against impunity, with many calling for more constructive dialogue to address challenges and criticisms the Court is facing, including cooperation. A number of states highlighted the need for great attention to the investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes around the world, including in Iraq and Syria, while acknowledging the positive developments at the ICC this year in this regard, adding that a lack of cooperation has hampered greater progress. States illustrated their commitment to victims’ rights at the ICC as Japan and Sweden announced upcoming voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims. Spain, meanwhile, noted that it has enacted a domestic immunities law that does not conflict with its international obligations under the Rome Statute. Andorra and Vanuatu underscored that all states have an equal voice in the Rome Statute system, while the latter also called for ICC outreach to expand into the Pacific region and for ICC jurisdiction over environmental crimes.

El Salvador was welcomed as the 124th state to ratify the Rome Statute, with the state itself expressing gratitude to the Court and the efforts by the Coalition to bring the country into the international justice process.

The majority of states expressed their concern about the recent withdrawals and urged one another to recognize and improve the functioning of the ICC from within the Rome Statute system. Most African states reiterated their support for the ICC and the Rome Statute system. Nigeria called for impunity to be challenged without discrimination, and this support was matched by states like Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Lesotho, the latter calling on states to take advantage of the major African representation in the ASP to preserve their original resolve to establish the ICC, and stating it would itself nominate a candidate for ICC judicial elections at next year’s ASP session. Uganda and Namibia meanwhile reaffirmed their commitment to the ICC while raising concerns, with Uganda emphasizing that recent withdrawals were avoidable. As one of the three withdrawing states, Burundi justified its decision with alternative narrative for the post-elections violence in the country as well as for why its cooperation with the ICC Prosecutor failed.

See our curated Twitter collection for highlights from ASP Day 2

General debate - afternoon session
During this continuation of the general debate, ICC member states concluded their statements, followed by observer states, international organizations, and civil society, including the Coalition.

While generally supportive, Brazil expressed concern over the potential of the ICC prosecutor’s new policy on case selection to expand the Court’s jurisdiction to cover environmental crimes. The Philippines meanwhile noted that while well-intended, a recent statement by the ICC prosecutor on the situation in the country was premature given what he called ongoing investigations into alleged extra-judicial killings and systematic attacks against civilians. The Philippines noted it would await further instructions from its president on the country’s future relationship with the ICC. Kenya, meanwhile, used its general debate statement largely to condemn UN Human Rights head Prince Zeid’s statement at the opening of the ASP session yesterday.

The following civil society organizations delivered statements following international organizations the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF):

  • William Pace – Coalition for the International Criminal Court
  • Mohamed Ndifuna – Uganda national Coalition for the ICC
  • Emery Okundji Ndjovu - PGA
  • Brigitte Chelebian – Justice Without Frontiers
  • Netsanet Belay - Amnesty International
  • Ali Ouattara – Ivorian national Coalition for the ICC
  • Guissou Jahangiri – FIDH
  • Chino Obiagwu – Nigeria national Coalition for the ICC
  • Gladwell Otieno – Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice
  • Elizabeth Evenson – Human Right Watch

They covered a range of issues, including civil society's commitment to the ICC, the protection of human rights workers, the need for States Parties to make strong statements to support the ICC, and the need for justice for victims. 

All full statements of will be available on our website in the coming days. 

See our curated tweet list for highlights of the NGO statements 

 

SIDE EVENTS

NGO and Court wide meeting on ICC and Africa
Speakers:
Stephen Lamony - AU, UN & Africa Situations CICC
Amadi Ba - Head of International Cooperation ICC (OTP)
Matias Hellman - External Relations Advisor at the Presidency of the ICC
Angela Mudukuti - Lawyer with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre

Civil society and ICC representatives exchanged on the ICC-Africa relationship, efforts to establish an African Task Force Group and a liaison office at the seat of the AU, South Africa’s failure to arrest ICC suspect Omar al-Bashir, the need for enhanced outreach by the Court around the recent withdrawal announcements and the necessity for dialogue.

Host: Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia: A Discussion  
Speakers:
David Scheffer - Special Expert to Extraordinary Chamber in Courts of Cambodia
Michael Bliss - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

During this discussion, the speakers focused on the challenges for a voluntarily funded tribunal within an international justice framework, the impact of the tribunal on civil society, the importance of international governmental funding, and the positive lessons that can be learned from the ECCC for the ICC and reparations processes there.

Hosts: Australia and the ECCC

ICC Prosecutor meets with civil society
Speakers:
Fatou Bensouda - Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
William R. Pace - Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court 
Various civil society members

Topics addressed included the recent withdrawals of the three African states, the need for better communication around political rhetoric, the role for civil society to play, informing states of the Court’s benefits, the important impact of the ICC budget on prosecutor’s capacity to investigate, cooperation from Russia in the recently opened Georgia situation, the possibility of a full investigation in Burundi before its official withdrawal comes into effect, accountability for victims in Mali, DRC, and other ICC situations around the world, and the need to put justice for victims first and ensure fair examinations and investigations.

 

STATEMENTS AND NEWS

Mayor Jozias van Aartsen supports the ICC: “The world community needs to give the relatively young International Criminal Court the time to settle and spread its wings.”

PGA - Latin American efforts to enhance ICC effectiveness through cooperation
PGA has actively been working in target countries within Latin America. This region of the world constitutes the second largest one represented in the Rome Statute’s membership. The Latin American States Parties have been strong advocates for the Court and the PGA’s goal in the region is to ensure universal ratifications and full implementations of the Rome Statute.

U.S. forces may have committed war crimes, says ICC
The prosecutor’s office said in a report released on Monday that there is a “reasonable basis to believe” that prisoners held by U.S. forces were tortured in Afghanistan and at CIA detention facilities in Poland, Lithuania and Romania in 2003 and 2004.

Opinion: Is Africa attempting to undermine the credibility of the ICC?
Member states of the International Criminal Court are beginning their annual meeting in The Hague. Three African states are leaving the court, but it is still needed writes Tanzanian analyst Anaclet Rwegayura.

Philippines may withdraw from the ICC, says President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippines President Rodigro Duterte has said he might withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Other statements
Regret & Support: Speeches on the Court
Symposium: ICC Assembly of States Parties

 

TOMORROW AT THE ASP

The ASP will pick up again tomorrow with a panel discussion on cooperation, an Open Bureau meeting on the relationship between Africa and the ICC and the joined fight against impunity, and the Working Group on Amendments.

The Coalition will host events tomorrow. In collaboration with Liechtenstein, we will host a side event on the role of international criminal justice in the fight against modern slavery. The Coalition will also bring together state, ICC, and civil society actors for our reception, co-hosted with the city of The Hague, to celebrate the occasion of the 15th ASP session.

Have a look at some other side events of our members and civil society taking place tomorrow:

  • Crimes Against Humanity, Sex Crimes, and Command Responsibility: developments and boundaries in core international crimes practice (co-hosted by Norway, the UK and Center for International Law Research and Policy)
  • Child Soldier: Prevention and Accountability (co-hosted by Canada, OTP, Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and JRR)
  • National jurisdiction in the frontline of fighting impunity (hosted by the European Union Network for investigation and prosecution)
  • Building or breaking international criminal justice in Africa? (co-hosted by France, the Netherlands, and the Institute for Security Studies)

Please find ASP material, information, updates on our newly launched website.

Find out more about how the ASP works here and here
Find all ASP materials and documents on the ASP 2016 webpage
Read more on the Annual Assembly
Read more about civil society and the Rome Statute
 

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