CICC Asia-Pacific Regional Strategy Meeting 2019

Coalition for the ICC
Regions: 
Asia-Pacific
Civil Society urges states to show greater commitment to strengthening the ICC and ending impunity for mass atrocities.

The Coalition for the ICC organizes semi-annual regional strategy meetings to help develop national and regional actions and campaigns, and define priorities and targets. Civil society representatives are invited to the meetings to discuss the Coalition’s regional campaign objectives, to coordinate plans, and to exchange best strategies and lessons learned in ICC advocacy.

The Asia-Pacific gathering offered an invaluable opportunity to discuss grounds for cooperation among civil society organizations towards the elimination of impunity in the region, focusing on the strengthening of the ICC and Rome Statute System as well as on the justice issues specific to each country. The meeting has also proved effective in strengthening the links among the International Secretariat of the Coalition and its local members in the field.

Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia- Following the conclusion of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) Regional Strategy Meeting for the Asia-Pacific, CICC members across the region have urged states to show greater commitment towards the strengthening of the ICC and ending impunity for the gravest international crimes. On 10-12 April 2019, 40 representatives from national and international civil society organizations working in the Asia-Pacific region, representing over 15 states, agreed-upon strategies and recommendations to bolster the fight against impunity for crimes under international law.

 “The Regional Strategy Meeting helped us understand, with greater depth, various aspects related to the ICC and related processes. It was successful because it brought together experts on the ICC - with experience in various country situations and investigations - with civil society from the region. Connecting international experts on the ICC with communities affected by atrocity crimes and their allies on the ground has been an immensely powerful experience, and we hope to see more coming out of it in the days ahead,” reflected Debbie Stothard, Founder and Coordinator of ALTSEAN-Burma and Secretary-General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

During the meeting, which featured a dedicated strategy session with ICC officials, participants agreed to ramp up national and regional campaigns for the ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute, to increase general awareness on the ICC while countering misinformation, and to build the capacity of stakeholders—government officials, parliamentarians, civil society and the media—to advocate for and support international justice.

Additionally, participants provided updates and exchange experiences and lessons learnt from their actions and advocacy – both at the local and at the regional level – for the implementation of Rome Statute provisions and the strengthening of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute system.

Over the course of the three-day sessions, civil society representatives reviewed developments and setbacks of ICC Preliminary Examinations in the region, including the Preliminary Examinations in Afghanistan, Myanmar / Bangladesh, and The Philippines; analyzed some of the latest developments regarding ICC case law, domestic implementation and application of the Statute under the principle of complementarity; and discussed current issues facing the Court, such as the challenges regarding cooperation, the upcoming judicial and prosecutorial elections in 2020, and the political challenges facing multilateralism more in general.

Discussions were also held over the recent withdrawal of The Philippines, as well as the decision of Malaysia to revert its accession to the Statute, and participants expressed their concerns over the possible setbacks for the Rome Statute system they could produce in the region. “We are saddened that the Philippines has withdrawn as a state party to the Rome Statute. We aim to keep informing the public on the nature of the ICC as a fair and impartial court," stated Dr. Aurora Parong, Co-Chair of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC.  “We must have effective domestic courts and other mechanisms for justice. But we should not be deprived of access to a court of last resort such as the ICC, when States are unwilling and unable to investigate and deliver justice for victims of grave international crimes,” added Dr. Parong.

During the CICC Asia-Pacific Regional Strategy Meeting, civil society participants drafted a set of recommendations to states in the region, to regional organizations, to the ICC, and to the international community at large. The importance for all states to improve their cooperation with the ICC – in the execution of arrest warrants, the protection of victims and witnesses, the collection and sharing of evidence – were highlighted.

Exchange and solidarity among stakeholders involved in the fight against impunity have been highlighted as a crucial means of advancing the Rome Statute system in the region: “Regional level exchange and solidarity is crucial for our call for universality. I am very glad that the Coalition for the ICC provided us this chance to make this a reality. We shall continue to take advantage of the outcomes of this workshop in the years to come,” concluded Yiqiang (Michael) Liu, Executive Director for the Chinese Initiative on International Law.

In his closing statement, and in one of his last official missions before stepping down as the Coalition’s Convenor, William R. Pace underlined the importance of having these discussions in the Asia-Pacific Region. “No region will have a greater impact on the fate of major challenges confronting the international legal order than the Asia-Pacific region. The faith in the Rule of Law and the Rome Statute system in this region is, therefore, crucial,” concluded William Pace, Convenor for the Coalition for the ICC 1995-2019.

The RSM was preceded by a High-Level Seminar organized by the Coalition for the ICC in partnership with the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights and the Malaysian national Coalition for the ICC. The seminar was particularly well-timed, taking place just four days after the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir announced a reversal of the decision to access the ICC Rome Statute, formally announced only a month earlier. During the seminar, civil society representatives from Malaysia illustrated the actual legal and political framework for the ratification of the Rome Statute, countering some of the arguments that led to the reversal of the decision to accede the Rome Statute. The seminar was enriched by the participation of Mr. Kula Segaran, the Malaysian Minister of Human Resources, who reiterated some of the arguments in favor of Malaysia accession.

Following the Regional Strategy Meeting, the Coalition for the ICC took part in a “Regional Consultation on Creating Common Platform for Expediting International Justice Mechanism for Rohingya victims of Genocide”, organized by the Asian Legal Resource Center and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), organizations active on the protection of human rights in the region. Human Rights groups present, developed key strategies targeting the Rohingya population in order to expedite the delivery of justice and to enable the community to engage with international justice mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), and with states that exercise universal jurisdiction.

Read the recommendations adopted by Coalition members and partners in the region HERE

Background

About the ICC
The ICC is the world’s first permanent international court to have jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Central to the Court’s mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
There are currently twelve active investigations before the ICC: Burundi; the Central African Republic I & II; Democratic Republic of Congo; Darfur, Sudan; Kenya; Libya; Uganda; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali, Bangladesh/Myanmar and Georgia. The ICC has publicly issued 34 arrest warrants and nine summonses to appear. Three trials are ongoing. There have been three convictions and three acquittals. Nine preliminary examinations currently ongoing, including into situations in Afghanistan, Philippines, Colombia, Guinea, Iraq/UK, Palestine, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The OTP has concluded preliminary examinations relating to Gabon, Honduras, the Republic of Korea and the Comoros referral, declining in each case to open an investigation.

About us
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a global network of over 2500 civil society organizations in 150 countries campaigning for an effective, independent, resilient and standard-setting ICC and fighting for justice for victims of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression through national courts and the ICC. It is housed in and is a program of the World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy and is headquartered in The Hague, The Netherlands.