Civil society addresses the ICC Assembly of States Parties on ASP day two

Assembly of States Parties 2019 

3 December 2019

General Debate

On 3 December 2019, the General Debate continued in the ASP plenary with statements by States Parties to the ICC Rome Statute. A number of states, including Nigeria, The Gambia, Greece, Spain and Liechtenstein expressed concerns about the threats and challenges that the ICC has been facing. Throughout the session, repeated calls were made for all States Parties to step up their diplomatic support and take action to strengthen the Court and the Rome Statute system.

States Parties to the ICC Rome Statute also welcomed the efforts to review the performance of the Court. Particularly, several States Parties welcomed the initiative to implement an independent expert review composed by highly qualified experts. Nigeria, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, Bulgaria, Australia, Japan, Greece, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Poland, Peru, Portugal, New Zealand, Spain, Romania, Malta, Brazil, Ghana, and Chile made reference to these efforts.

Some States welcomed efforts by the Court in assessing its own performance, including through an external expert review regarding the Kenya situation.

Kiribati’s accession to the Rome Statute was welcomed by numerous States, including Australia, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil, Estonia, Canada, and Chile. Numerous States re-stated their commitment to promote the universality of the Rome Statute, and several expressed concern regarding the possibility of further withdrawals from the Rome Statute.

Several States Parties stated their support for the proposed amendments to article 8 of the Rome Statute, currently being considered by the ASP, to include the war crime of starvation as a method of warfare in non-international armed conflict, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Australia, El Salvador, Switzerland, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Portugal, New Zealand, Spain, Estonia, Canada.

Various States stressed the importance of nominating and electing the most highly qualified individuals to serve as ICC judges in next year’s judicial elections.

After the conclusion of the statements by States Parties, Observer States and international organizations and other entities spoke, including China, Iran, Cuba, the African Union, the Council of Europe, the ICRC, IDLO, the Sovereign Order of Malta, and the ICC Bar Association (ICCBA).

The General Debate of the 18th ASP session concluded with the interventions by Non-Governmental Organizations. The Coalition for the ICC Acting Convenor, Melinda Reed, reiterated civil society’s belief in the Court, the Rome Statute system and what it stands for, while also acknowledging the imperfection and evolving nature of current international justice efforts.

Nine Coalition members also addressed the ASP from all regions of the world, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Libya, Sudan and Ukraine, touching on the challenges they face in their fight against impunity, their expectations towards the Court and States Parties, including on the need to implement pending arrest warrants and recommendations to ensure victims’ access to justice and redress.

Side Events

The Association Française pour la Promotion de la Compétence Universelle (AFPCU) hosted "The prosecution of economic and financial crimes: Towards an extension of the ICC’s jurisdiction”.

Costa Rica, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Sierra Leone, Spain and Human Rights Watch organized a side-event titled "Strengthening the ICC while upholding its Independence and Safeguarding the Integrity of the Rome Statute."

Germany hosted an event on the "Draft Convention on Crimes against Humanity".

The Coalition for the ICC and Uruguay hosted a side event on "Strengthening the ICC and the Rome Statute system: perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean". During the event, participants talked about the support of the States in the region to the ICC, the “ICC review” process, cooperation with the Court, ICC elections and the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV).

Democracia Global and the Embassy of Argentina held an event entitled “Towards the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court against transnational organized crime”.

Impunity Watch, PAX & the Violations Documentation Centre held a side event on "ISIS prosecutions: putting Iraqi and Syrian victims’ rights first."

Argentina, Belgium, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Senegal and Slovenia held an event on their joint Mutual Legal Assistance Initiative entitled “Towards the convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of the Crime of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes.” 

Uganda, the United Kingdom and Justice Rapid Response (JRR)  organized a side event on "Realizing the Promise of Complementarity in Uganda: Challenges and Opportunities in delivering justice to victims."

Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the Wayamo Foundation held an event on revisiting the timing and duration of decision making at the ICC.

Italy and Japan hosted a side-event “Realising expediting criminal proceedings".

Lawyers for Justice in Libya and FIDH organized a side event titled, "Towards Ethical and Equitable Engagement: Formalising a mutual guided relationship between the Court and intermediaries".

Czech Republic, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and the Open Society Justice Initiative launched their recent report: “Raising the Bar: Improving the Nomination and Election of Judges to the ICC.”'s event was called “Alternative values, Alternative Facts: Media manipulation and disinformation in Duterte’s Philippine Drug War”. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo held a book launch on “La défense devant les jurisdictions pénales internationales."  

The Netherlands and the International Bar Association hosted "State Cooperation and Respect for Human Rights - Finding Solutions in Cases of (interim) Release”.

Liechtenstein, Berkeley Human Rights Center and Global Rights Compliance organized a side-event titled, "Technology and 21st Century Fact-Finding: Setting and Standardizing Processes for International Criminal Investigations.”

Missed something? Catch up on the action with all of our ASP18 Daily Summaries.

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