Discussions in home stretch, Rome Statute 20th a chance for action

Assembly of States Parties 2017

13 December 2017

Rome Statute 20th: Invitation to renew the fight

On Wednesday, day eight of ASP16, the ASP Bureau organized a plenary meeting to begin developing stocktaking and future-planning activities around the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute.

As Coalition for the ICC Convenor William R. Pace highlighted in his address to the Assembly, 20 years on from the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998, 2018 represents a unique opportunity to revitalize commitment to the Rome Statute system of international justice, as well as to build new partnerships between civil society, governments, international and regional organizations, the legal profession, academia, youth groups, and the media, among other stakeholders, in the fight against impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Mr. Pace noted that the Bureau's decision to organize a special session ASP16 looking ahead to the 20th anniversary is already an impressive signal of activities to come next year, and encouraged a full year of wide and diverse commemorations, convocations, and celebrations to mark the anniversary, officially celebrated on 17 July.

For its part, the Coalition for the ICC will launch commemorations on 15 February 2018 with a forum, followed by a reception at the ICC permanent premises in The Hague, which will be attended by current and former leaders of the Coalition, the ICC, and the Rome Statute negotiations, including ICC President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi.

Watch all the statements

Side event central: Day eight

Three side events took place on the penultimate day of ASP16. Each of the three events addressed distinct types of crimes within or with potential connections to the Rome Statute system.

In A World Free of Landmines, co-hosted by the governments of Belgium, Canada, and Colombia to mark the 20th anniversary of the 'Ottawa Treaty,'  attendees heard from a high-level expert panel on how the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction has enabled the clearing landmines - in particular in Colombia and the wider South American region - and the reduction of risks faced by entire communities. The use of landmines, the elimination of which panelists noted would be essential for complete and lasting peace, was one of four new proposed war crimes under the Rome Statute being considered by the Working Group on Amendments this ASP session. Relatedly, Sri Lanka acceded to the Ottawa Treaty today, 13 December.

Lessons learned from the Rome Statute system for the effective establishment of a Court to conduct regional prosecutions of transnational organized crime was meanwhile a topic of discussion in Towards the Creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court against Transnational Organized Crime, co-hosted by Democracia Global of Argentina, the World Federalist Movement, and the government of Argentina. See more in day eight's 'Side event spotlight.'

Finally, sexual and gender-based crimes under international law - on which the Rome Statute has included landmark provisions since its adoption in 1998; and on which the ICC continues to contribute jurisprudence - were the focus of Prosecuting Sexual and Gender-Based Violence at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, co-sponsored by Canada, Sierra Leone, UN Women, Western University, and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice.

Side event spotlight: Toward a comprehensive end to impunity in Latin America

The “Corte Penal Latinoamericana y del Caribe contra el Crimen Transnacional Organizado” (COPLA) as well as ongoing civil society efforts geared at the COPLA's establishment were the subject of a side event taking place on day eight of ASP16.

The event, entitled Towards the Creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court against Transnational Organized Crime, was co-sponsored by Democracia Global, World Federalist Movement, and the mission of Argentina to the UN. Speakers on the event panel included Argentina’s permanent representative to the UN, Mr. Martín García Moritán; Director of Democracia Global and Coordinator of the COPLA campaign, Ms. Camila López Badra; Coordinator of the Group of Legal Experts for COPLA, Mr. Christian Cao; and Americas Coordinator of the Coalition for the ICC, Ms. Michelle Reyes.

With a draft statute already in place, the panel discussion aimed to present the draft to would-be member states and other stakeholders, including civil society, and to hear from Democracia Global, the NGO behind the campaign for the establishment of the COPLA. Ms. Reyes of the Coalition for the ICC was on hand to present comparisons between the COPLA and the ICC, as well as to reflect on lessons learned from the drafting and adoption of the Rome Statute—with a view to maximize the potential of the process toward the establishment of a court dedicated to ending impunity for transnational crimes affecting the region.  

More on the COPLA campaign

The Tweets From Day 8

Tomorrow at ASP16: Negotiations in the home stretch

The outstanding negotiations among the states parties today continued on the Court’s 2018 budget, the catch-all ‘omnibus’ resolution, the war crimes amendment, and on the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over the Crime of Aggression, trying to find consensus on all these issues before the end of ASP16.

With tomorrow being the last day of this Assembly’s session, all resolutions and reports agreed upon in advance and during ASP16 will be adopted.

This will include a formal ASP resolution on cooperation; the 2018 Court’s budget; amendments to the Rome Statute (to be confirmed); and the omnibus resolution.

The Assembly will also formally adopt its recommendations to the Judges of the Court on the qualifications to take into account when electing the Registrar of the ICC. That election, among 12 short-listed candidates, will take place by secret ballot by the 18 ICC Judges late March 2018. Read all about the 2018 ICC Registrar election and the Coalition campaign around it on our website.