Civil society addresses the ICC Assembly of States Parties during the ASP20 General Debate 

Assembly of States Parties 2021 

7 December 2021

The General Debate  

The General Debate resumed and concluded on Tuesday, with civil society taking the floor after the remainder of ICC member states, observer states, international organizations and the International Criminal Court Bar Association delivered their statements. 

The remaining states to speak touched on similar themes as heard on day one of the Debate: the Review of the ICC and Rome Statute system, the ongoing need to elect the most highly qualified officials in merit-based elections including the upcoming elections of the Deputy-Prosecutor(s), political support to the Court, the need for effective cooperation, the budget, universality and contributions to the Trust Fund of Victims, and the role of civil society and HRDs.  

Among remaining member states to speak were Costa Rica, Austria, Japan, Denmark, Nigeria, Ireland, Timor Leste, Mexico, El Salvador, Republic of Korea, Chile, Kenya, Ghana, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia and Guatemala (in order of delivery). 

There were a number of explicit mentions of the essential role of civil society in the broader Rome Statute system, and more specifically as key stakeholders in the Review process. The need for sufficient resources matching the Court’s growing workload was also raised in the course of the Debate.  

Several states took the opportunity to announce voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims, and underscore the centrality of victims in the Rome Statute system.  

The observer states of the United States (US), Iran and Cuba also made statements before the Assembly. The US reiterated their commitment to upholding the rule of law and bringing redress to victims of atrocity crimes across the globe, and noted their willingness to engage with stakeholders in this aim, including the Court and civil society. Iran welcomed the work of the Court in pursuit of accountability, while also cautioning against allowing political factors impact the pursuit of their mandate.  

The International Development Law Organization took the floor, followed by a representative of the ICC Bar Association.    

Finally, Civil society addressed the plenary at the end of the General Debate. The Coalition's Acting Convenor, Ms. Melinda Reed, opened the civil society segment by reiterating the unique consultative relationship between the Coalition’s global network and the Court, and further called on States to reiterate their strong and continued political commitment to the Rome Statute and the Court. She also underscored the challenges that civil society organizations and human rights defenders continue to face in their work with the Court. Further, she reiterated the CICC Election Team’s position on the establishment of a permanent vetting mechanism, as well as the key priorities for the CICC Review Team.   

She was followed by Mr. Lambert Nigarura, on behalf of the Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI), who raised concerns about the human rights situation in Burundi, including the condemnation of civil society organizations and human rights defenders for their essential work in the country. He was followed by Mr. Khaled Emam, on behalf of Justice Call (Egypt), who spoke on the need for accountability in the MENA region, and called for broad support for civil society and human rights defenders,  who continue to play an essential role in strengthening justice and human rights systems and contribute to the fight against impunity. 

The session drew to a close before all the civil society organizations could address the plenary, so it was announced that the remaining statements would be delivered at a plenary session later in the week. This will take place in the afternoon of Wednesday 8 December, at 16:30CET.  

There remain seven Coalition members slated to address the ASP from all regions of the world, including Afghanistan,  the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mexico 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 support and protect Human Rights Defenders at risk, implement pending arrest warrants and recommendations to ensure victims’ access to justice and redress. 

The General Debate concluded the morning session, and there were no further meetings on the formal agenda in the afternoon. 

Read the Civil Society statements delivered on Day 2: 

Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), Ms Melinda Reed, CICC Acting Convenor 

Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI), Mr Lambert Nigarura 

Justice Call, Mr Khaled Emam  

Side Events

Tuesday also saw a large number of side events: 

  1. Benchmarking in International Criminal Justice: Feasibility or Fiction? co-hosted by Germany, International Nuremberg Principles Academy and The Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law
  2. Gender Sensitive Judging in International Criminal Courts, co-hosted by Australia, the Netherlands, Uganda and Africa Legal Aid
  3. The Role of Parliamentarians in Promoting the Universality of the Rome Statute: The State of Play in Today’s ICC, co-hosted by the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea and the Parliamentarians for Global Action
  4. Trust Fund for Victims: Going into 2022, co-hosted by Dominican Republic, Ireland and the Trust Fund for Victims 
  5. Ecocide: a fifth crime defined, co-hosted by Samoa, Vanuatu, Stop Ecocide Foundation, Institute for Environmental Security and The Hague Peace Projects. 


The full list of side events can be found here.  

Other Resources

Visit our webpage on the Assembly of States Parties 2021 to read previous ASP20 daily summaries, recommendations from civil society and other ASP20 resources. Check out the following links regularly for updates:   

Twitter @ngos4justice   

Coalition letter to ICC States Parties on ASP20   

Schedule of NGO side-events   

CICC Elections Team Paper on a Permanent Vetting Mechanism