ASP 15 Report: Let's deepen the revolution against impunity
As the 15th session of the Assembly of States Parties in November 2016 (ASP15) approached, concerns about the challenges confronting the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the States Parties in implementing the Rome Statute were increasing. Already the threats to the ICC were being engulfed by forebodings of a larger peril.
As we prepared this important report in the first months of 2017, it became clear that the threats to the ICC reflect a much greater threat to the systems of multilateralism and world order that have been created since the end of World War II.
This report on ASP15 thus addresses the substance and the results of a meeting of more than half of the world community on not only the short-term future of the ICC but of international justice writ large in these very turbulent and troubling political times. The global community must do better.
In important ways the 15th Assembly was more constructive than recent sessions and signaled that the vast majority of states are committed to improvements. A renewed collaborative spirit is visible in this report’s descriptions of the largely open and transparent debates that took place at ASP15.
That spirit was similarly palpable from an absence of accounts of attempts to interfere with ICC cases, as happened in 2014 and 2015. However, the contradictory policies of major State Parties on funding the Court - one of the few familiar stains during this session - have reached a breaking point and can no longer sustain the real-world demands and pressures facing the Court.
During the opening debate of ASP15, the Coalition for the ICC joined the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and ICC and Assembly leaders in calling for greater unity and dialogue in the face of obstacles to the international commitment that will finally allow the ICC to become the 'Never Again Court' it was intended to be - a Court for all people.
The over 400 NGO delegates in attendance at ASP15 attested not only to the continued relevance of international justice in the face of rising occurrences of grave crimes, but also to the commitment of human rights defenders around the world in the face of increasingly overt and escalating personal security risks.
As 2017 unfolds, there are terrible conflicts where ‘ICC crimes’ are occurring outside of the Court’s jurisdiction, as well as continued political convulsions around the world driven by nationalism and xenophobia.
It is now more pressing than ever that this first and permanent International Criminal Court continues to stand for a revolution against the decades – and indeed centuries – of impunity that preceded its existence.
The Gambia’s new president affirmed as much when he revoked his predecessor’s 2016 Rome Statute withdrawal. Meanwhile, South Africa’s judiciary continues to challenge the country’s feared regression to rule by law as opposed to the post-apartheid rule of law – and the dignity, peace and security it promises.
The positive outcomes of ASP15 must now be used as a springboard to deepen dialogue and to address concerns so that the ICC and international justice system work for all.
As this report will show, we - the more than 2500 NGOs that form the Coalition for the International Criminal Court - are far from alone in this mission to achieve lasting peace through the Rome Statute system of international justice.
William R. Pace
Convenor, Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Read more about ASP 15: Annual ICC Assembly: States hold ground on ICC, but serious challenges remain