Cooperation and Review of the ICC and Rome Statute system take center stage in dedicated plenary sessions

Assembly of States Parties 2021 

8 December 2021

Plenary on Cooperation

ASP20 opened on Wednesday 8 December with a plenary meeting dedicated to the topic of cooperation, a standing agenda item. This year’s plenary was entitled “Meeting the challenges of cooperation: a common and continuous responsibility for the effective implementation of the Rome Statute”. The discussion was organized in two segments.  

The first was a series of high-level interventions on voluntary cooperation, in which the various organs of the Court raised crucial issues of concern related to cooperation, including strengthening State Party cooperation with the ICC, the conclusion of cooperation agreements or arrangements, as well as measures to protect victims, witnesses and their families. Speakers also expressed their needs and expectations in reference to the challenges of voluntary cooperation. 

Speakers in this segment included: Ambassador Luis Vassy (France) and Ambassador Momar Guèye (Senegal), co-facilitators on cooperation, ASP President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, ICC President Judge Piotr Hofmański, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, ICC Registrar Peter Lewis. All speakers underlined the importance of cooperation for the Court  to work, including through the enforcement of sentences, the relocation of witnesses. France and North Macedonia shared their experience regarding voluntary agreements. Other States took the floor in this session:  Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. 

The second segment focused on cooperation in the field of financial investigations, identification and freezing of assets; towards the establishment of a network of operational focal points.  Speakers included Mr Amadi Ba, Head of the International Cooperation Section in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), Ms Anne-Aurore Bertrand, External Relations and Cooperation Officer in the Registry, and Ms Alejandra Vicente, Head of Law at Redress.  

Italy and Belgium both highlighted the importance of adopting effective national frameworks to cooperate with the Court. Italy called for cooperation in the execution of arrest warrants and UN Security Council referrals. Belgium referred to its proposal to set a network of national focal points on cooperation.  

Coalition members Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International underlined the link between cooperation and complementarity, urging states parties to abide by the obligations contained in the Rome Statute and develop concrete instruments to cooperate with the Court. Speaking for Human Rights Watch, Liz Evenson noted that failure to act blocks access to justice for the victims of serious crimes. Matt Cannock, on behalf of Amnesty International, highlighted the report of the Independent Experts, who highlighted the negative impacts of a lack of states parties’ cooperation on the Court’s operations, but did not offer substantive recommendations towards improving it. 

Statements from this session will soon be available here

Plenary on Review of the ICC and Rome Statute System

The afternoon session saw a plenary session dedicated to the Review of the ICC and the Rome Statute system 

Ambassador Paul van den IJssel (Netherlands) and Ambassador Michael Kanu (Sierra Leone), the States Party representatives of the Review Mechanism, presented on their report to the Assembly and opened the floor for an interactive dialogue among stakeholders to discuss the status of assessments of the recommendations found in the “Matrix: Progress in the assessment of the IER recommendations”, dated 2 December 2021.  

Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart, one of the Court focal points on the review, noted their consistent reporting to the Mechanism and to the various facilitations done thus far. He expressed a hope that while the process has focused primarily on the Court and its activities, it will also expand to discussions on how states and civil society can do their part.  

The floor was then open for interventions from states and other participants. State interventions included: Finland, Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the African group), Australia, the United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, France, Liechtenstein and Uganda (in order of delivery).  

States took the opportunity to highlight the work done by the Review Mechanism, and the importance of keeping the momentum in the essential implementation of the recommendations. It was underscored that the review process is not simply a box-ticking exercise, but must be implemented in order to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the Court and Rome Statute system. Many states also commented on the role played by civil society throughout the review process, and the need to continue this work together as we move towards the implementation phase.  

A representative of the ICC Staff Union Council reiterated their willingness to continue engaging in the process, and highlighted a number of challenges remaining such as ending harassment and intimidation in the workplace, and the establishment of an internal conflict resolution mechanism.  

Ms Dorine Llanta intervened on behalf of the Coalition’s Review Team to highlight a number of the Team’s key priority areas, further recalling Court, acting in compliance with the Rome Statute, remains the ultimate decision-maker on issues under its purview that go to the heart of its judicial and prosecutorial independence. Ms Esti Tambay of Human Rights Watch, highlighted recommendation 363, which for the organization of a conference for key stakeholders to engage on the strategic vision for the Court for the next ten years, which could be convened on the upcoming occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rome Statute in 2023.  

Read the CICC statement here.  

Resumption of the General debate

Due to the earlier closing of Tuesday morning’s session, the general Debate continued for the ASP to hear civil society represenatives . The speakers included : 

Ms Guissou Jahangiri for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ms Graciela Rodríguez for the Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), Mr Ahmed Abofoul  on behalf of Al Haq, Palestinian Center for Human Rights & the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Mr Serge Ngabu Kilo for the Ligue pour la Paix, les Droits de l'Homme et la Justice (LIPADHOJ), Mr David Donat Cattin for Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), Ms Nadia Volkova on behalf of Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group (ULAG), Crimea Human Rights Group, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Truth Hounds, Diya Human Rights Centre & Human Rights Centre ZMINA, and Ms Katy Olivia van Tergouw for Stop Ecocide Foundation. 

Read all the statements delivered by civil society here.  

Side events

Side events on the third day of ASP20 included: 

  • When Vetoes Prevent Accountability:  a critical examination of blocking ICC referrals, Hosted by Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), Canada, The Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations 

  • Obstructing Justice and Promoting Impunity: Israel's Designation of Palestinian Civil Society Organisations as "Terrorist Organisations", Hosted by Al Haq and the State of Palestine 

  • Paths to Justice and Accountability for Venezuela. Ongoing Initiatives by the International Community, Hosted by Un Mundo Sin Mordaza, Defiende Venezuela, Organization of American States (OAS) 

  • Specialized Units for Investigating and Prosecuting International Crimes and Crimes of the Past: Efforts for Addressing Impunity for Crimes in Syria, hosted by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Australia, France, Germany and the Netherlands 

  • What you always wanted to know about reparations: an insight into reparations implementation in the DRC and Mali, co-hosted by Australia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the Trust Fund for Victims 

  • The MLA Initiative: Towards a new Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of the Crime of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, co-hosted by Argentina, Belgium, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Senegal and Slovenia 


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