All you need to know about the 22nd session of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC

The 22nd session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP or Assembly) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC or the Court) took place from 4 - 14 December 2023, at United Nations Headquarters (UN), in New York, USA. The 22nd session benefitted from robust participation by States Parties, non-States Parties, international and regional organizations, and nearly 150 individual civil society representatives.  Meeting in plenary once a year, the Assembly is responsible for taking decisions related to the effective functioning of the Court and its Assembly. These decisions have political, financial, and other implications and are essential for the independent and efficient functioning of the Court.     


ASP22 General Debate 

The General Debate segment of the Assembly session provides the opportunity for participants, including States Parties to the ICC Rome Statute, non-States Parties, observer States and organizations, and civil society to address the wider plenary on key topics related to the work of the Court and international justice. A non-exhaustive list of topics this year included: the importance of the implementation of recommendations by the Independent Expert Review Mechanism; enhanced cooperation and political support to the Court; the ICC’s budgetary and resource needs; the crucial role that civil society and human rights defenders play in the pursuit of the Court's mandate, and the need to protect them from threats, intimidation and reprisals. Many States further condemned the recent attacks and threats against the Court and its officials, and referenced the continued goal of reaching universal ratification of the ICC Statute. In this context, many States welcomed the ratification of the ICC Rome Statute by Armenia, which became the 124th ICC State Party on 1 February 2024.  Armenia took the floor during the General Debate as an incoming state party, underscoring their commitment to upholding justice, fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for Rome Statute crimes.  

Finally, the majority of States welcomed the ICC judges elected at ASP22 and underscored the necessity of electing only the most highly qualified officials in merit-based processes.  



Nearly 150 civil society representatives attended the 22nd session of the Assembly. As customary, civil society had speaking slots in the General Debate segment. Civil society representatives highlighted the situations in Afghanistan, Burundi, Libya, Palestine, the Philippines, Venezuela and Ukraine; key issues such as the ICC’s resource needs; ICC elections; civil society space and the challenges faced by human rights defenders; as well as the need to guarantee adequate outreach to affected communities and ensure meaningful victim participation. The Coalition for the ICC also spoke during the closing session of the ASP22 highlight several issues including the need to protect and defend civil society space and human rights defenders who are at risk because of their engagement with the ASP and the Court, recalling States’ obligations and duties to support and cooperate with the Court, and noting with regret the lack of sufficient resources for the Court which has an impact on victims’ access to justice and the optimal functioning of the Court.  


2024 ICC annual budget 

Each year, after the presentation of the proposed budget, States Parties begin negotiations which last until the annual Assembly session. While in recent years, States have moved away from recommending zero nominal growth, negotiations on the Court’s annual budget remained difficult until the very last day of the ASP22 session.  

The Court faced a limited increase in resources in 2023, including a budget increase and an influx of voluntary contributions since 2022 to the Prosecutor’s trust funds. With this and a global trend of high inflation, several States were resolute in their positions to keep the budget increase as limited as possible, while others acknowledged the Court’s needs and agreed to a budget that more closely aligned with the Court’s request. Throughout the process, civil society called on States Parties to move away from past practice of micro-managing the Court’s budget and rather adopt a budget that would allow the Court to respond to its increased workload and demands upon it, enabling it to act effectively and independently across all situations before it.  

In July 2023, the ICC presented a budget of €200,412,100 for 2024 to States Parties representing an increase of 15.7% over the approved 2023 budget. After assessing the Court’s request, the Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), the Assembly’s independent expert body tasked with reviewing documents with financial implications on the work of the Court, recommended that States Parties adopt a budget of €188,386,100 (or +8.7%). The CBF recommended significant reductions in staff resources, particularly for many of the new positions proposed by the Court in its proposal. The Assembly considers the CBF’s recommendations during its negotiations on the budget.  

Following a long night of closed negotiations, on the 9th day of ASP22, ICC States Parties adopted a programme budget of €187,084,300 for the Court for 2024. This figure reflects an increase of €13,850,000 or 7.99% over the budget adopted for 2023. The approved budget includes the annual contribution to the host state and interest accrued for the ICC premises amounting to €3.58 million. While an increase of 7.99% seemingly represents one of the higher increases adopted by States Parties in the last several years, inflation has distorted the figure, and in real terms represents an increase of only a few points over last year’s approved budget.  

States also decided to replenish the Court’s Contingency Fund to a total of €5,800,000. The Contingency Fund was established to provide the Court with to deal with costs unforeseen at the time the annual budget is adopted. The Contingency Fund allows the Court to address urgent needs and react to developments.  


Permanent vetting and Elections at ASP22 

Following the establishment of ad-hoc due diligence procedures for recent ICC elections, and due in part to  sustained civil society advocacy on the topic in recent years, the Assembly adopted a permanent vetting process for ICC elections. The historic development puts a process into place which seeks to evaluate whether candidates possess “a high moral character”, as required in the Rome Statute. The process will apply to future candidates for the positions of Judges, Prosecutor, Deputy Prosecutor(s), Registrar and Deputy Registrar.  

The Assembly elected six new judges to replace a third of the total of 18 judges on the ICC bench. Following eleven rounds of voting over two days, the following judges were elected, having received the required two-thirds majority of votes:  Haykel Ben Mahfoudh (Tunisia); Erdenebalsuren Damdin (Mongolia); Nicolas Guillou (France); Beti Hohler (Slovenia); Iulia Antoanella Motoc (Romania); Keebong Paek (Republic of Korea). The Judges were sworn in on 8 March 2024. Read more about the new judges here.  

The newly composed bench of judges elected the following Presidency on 11 March 2024, to serve a three-year mandate: Judge Tomoko Akane (Japan), President; Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Italy), First Vice-President; Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou (Benin), Second Vice-President. 

Several ASP elections took place during the 22nd session of the ASP, including 18 members of the Bureau, an ASP President and two Vice-Presidents, and six members of the Committee on Budget and Finance. The Assembly elected the following 18 members of the Bureau: Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Cyprus, Ecuador, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, New Zealand,  Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, and Uganda. From these 18 Bureau members, the Assembly elected the following members of the ASP Presidency by acclamation: Ambassador Päivi Kaukoranta (Finland), President of the ASP; Ambassador Michael Kanu (Sierra Leone), ASP Vice President in New York; and Ambassador Margareta Kassangana (Poland), ASP Vice President in The Hague, granting seats to Finland, Poland and Sierra Leone on the Bureau. The Bureau and Presidency started their mandates at the end of ASP22 and will preside over the twenty-third through twenty-fifth sessions (2024 – 2026).  

The Assembly also elected the following six members of the Committee on Budget and Finance for three-year terms: Ms. Sanyu Diana Awori (Kenya); Mr. Werner Druml (Austria); Mr. Fawzi Gharaibeh (Jordan); Ms. Mónica Sánchez Izquierdo (Ecuador); Ms. Elena Sopková (Slovakia); Mr. Jun Yamada (Japan). Mr. Yamada was the only candidate elected for a first term; all other candidates are existing members of the CBF, eligible for a second term.  


Protection of space for civil society and human rights defenders 

Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and civil society often face threats and reprisals for their work on international justice, and specifically with the ICC.  For several years, Rome Statute system actors including States have recognised the critical role of human rights defenders and civil society in the Rome Statute system, and the need to support them when threatened or at risk of reprisals for their work on the Court or for engaging with the Assembly. This was particularly the case during the 21st session of the ASP in December 2022, with the ASP President reiterating that the Assembly and the Court have a shared responsibility to protect from any threat or attack against its officials and those cooperating with it.  The ASP President at the time further expressed her intention to identify appropriate measures to enhance the security of those participating in subsequent ASP sessions, including by offering a secure space where risks and reprisals against participants are minimized.   

Following discussions and consultations held throughout 2023, ICC States Parties endorsed the “Guidelines for enhancing the security of participants in the work of the Assembly” (adopted by the Bureau on 4 October 2023). The Assembly also adopted the following new language in the Omnibus resolution:  “Call[ing] upon all States to refrain from any acts constituting attacks, threats, intimidation or reprisals against participants in the work of the Assembly” and it tasked its Bureau “to continue developing measures to this effect in consultation with States Parties, the Court and civil society, and to report to the Assembly at its twenty-third session" (in December 2024). 

On 7 December 2023, the Coalition for the ICC together with Al Haq, Defiende Venezuela, FIDH, and Lawyers for Justice in Libya held a side event on the topic of “Protecting and Defending Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society: What role for the ICC States Parties and the Court?”. The event was cosponsored by Finland, Chile, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa.  Then ASP President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi provided the keynote speech, underscoring the collective responsibility of all Rome Statute system actors in providing a safe space for civil society engagement and HRDs. The panel was comprised of three HRDs from ICC situation countries who reflected on challenges facing HRDs worldwide, the need for support in the face of increased attacks and threats, and the role that the ICC, the ASP, and the international community can play to support and protect their work to advance justice. The event concluded with remarks from ASP President Päivi Kaukoranta committing to continuing the work in 2024 and throughout her mandate.  


Amendments to the Rome Statute and other texts 

The Assembly adopted three amendments during the session geared at strengthening the institutional framework and efficiency of the Court. The first amended the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, relating to the possibility of judicial notice of adjudicated facts in final judgments. The Rules of Procedure and Evidence were also amended in relation to the continuation of proceedings in the case of a permanent absence of a judge. Lastly, Article 39 of the Rome Statute was amended to reflect the latter, in the case of a permanent absence of a judge. 

Omnibus Resolution 

The Assembly adopted its annual resolution on “Strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of States Parties” (referred to as “Omnibus” resolution) which includes language and commitments on topics of relevance to the work of the Court and its Assembly and mandates various actors to advance on topics and activities throughout the following year. The Omnibus resolution provides direction to States Parties on specific topics for the following year and includes reporting guidelines in order to advance discussions in a timely fashion. After the 21st ASP session, States Parties agreed that the document had become quite lengthy since it was first adopted in 2002, and agreed to streamline the content of the resolution as a means towards more efficient negotiations and a stronger focus on the most important updates and concrete actions included each year.  

The resolution this year included a number of decisions on key issues. On cooperation, the Assembly requested that the Registry engage with States Parties on the issue of security of the ICC, including safety and protection measures in the face of threats and attacks against Court officials, staff, counsel, and the institution itself. On elections, the Assembly requested the Bureau to report at its next session on possible amendments to other mandates and procedures which may be necessary to implement the newly adopted due diligence procedure for elected officials at the Court. On working methods, the Assembly agreed that its annual sessions would have a duration of up to six working days, with the addition of up to three working days in years where judicial elections take place. The Assembly also adopted a new Legal Aid policy.  


Legal Aid Policy 

After several  attempts failed in the last decade, the 22nd ASP session adopted a revised Legal Aid Policy for external defence and victims’ teams at the Court, replacing the previous policy that entered into force in 2013.  The new legal aid system includes substantive improvements, including the extension of basic labor rights and employment protection to support members of external teams, the definition of a core team composition which better reflects the representation needs of defence and victims’ teams, and a more efficient management of the legal aid system with increased budgetary predictability.  

Some key issues remain to be resolved and will be discussed in 2024 through the ASP Legal Aid facilitation, in particular the issue of income taxation for defence and victims’ teams which contributes to the disparity between the remuneration of external counsel and team members and ICC staff members.  


Composition of the Committee on Budget and Finance 

At the 21st session of the Assembly of States Parties in 2022, States decided to assess the allocation of seats on the Committee on Budget and Finance, with an aim to improve its geographical representation. Several options were proposed by the facilitator on the topic, Mosammat Shahanara Monica (Bangladesh), which would either amend the composition of the CBF while retaining the existing number of seats (12), or expand the number of seats. The latter emerged as the consensus position following several consultations before and during the 22nd Assembly session. The Assembly ultimately decided to expand the number of seats of the CBF to 17, with the following allocation: African States: four seats (increased by two); Asian-Pacific States: three seats (increased by one); Eastern European States: three seats (increased by one); Group of Latin American and Caribbean States: three seats (increased by one); Western European and Other States: four seats (no increase). 


Other discussions at ASP22 

Cooperation with the ICC 

Cooperation was a major topic on the agenda for ASP22. Unlike in previous years, during the Assembly session the co-facilitators on Cooperation, the Ambassadors of France and Senegal to the Netherlands, convened a number of closed, informal consultations on the cooperation resolution, which was adopted by consensus

The annual plenary session on cooperation was held on 8 December 2023 with a high level panel on the 25th anniversary of the ICC Rome Statute, and a technical segment on arrests of ICC fugitives. Beatriz Borges of the Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ) delivered a statement during the first segment, calling on States to make full use of the Assembly strategy to defend and condemn threats and attacks against civil society organizations and human rights defenders who are targeted for their work to advance justice in the Rome Statute system and take steps to strengthen national frameworks for the protection of human rights defenders.  

Costa Rica delivered a statement in the same segment, made on behalf of following 48 states: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Madagascar, Moldova, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Rumania, Sierra Leone, Samoa, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Zambia calling on the Assembly to provide the Court with political, operational and financial support across all situations before it, to conduct its work effectively and independently, and to meet the expectations of the victims and affected communities it serves.  

The second segment focused on the topic of arrests, and allowed for the Court, States Parties and civil society to share more technical observations and recommendations on promoting effective cooperation regarding arrests of ICC suspects. Following a panel of technical experts, the floor was open for interventions from States and civil society. Mehdi Ben Youssef delivered a statement on behalf of Lawyers for Justice in Libya and partner organisations in Libya, underlining challenges to effective cooperation in the Libya context specifically, and provided recommendations directed to both the Court and the Assembly to address these challenges. 

Following the work accomplished at ASP22, the Assembly will, through its Cooperation facilitation, focus this year on financial investigations, tracking and arrest of fugitives, the issue of voluntary cooperation, and threats to and the security of the Court, including cyber-attacks.  

Review of the ICC and Rome Statute system 

Leading up to the Assembly session, the Review Mechanism, the body established to oversee the assessment and implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Experts and led by two state party representatives, Ambassador Michael Kanu (Sierra Leone) and Ambassador Paul van den IJssel (The Netherlands), concluded its assessment of the recommendations to which it was tasked. During the Assembly session, two resolutions related to Review were adopted. The Review Mechanism held two informal consultations to decide upon the language for the Assembly resolution on the future of the Review process. The consultations also included discussions on the implementation of a tenure policy for staff of the Court, which emerged from one of the expert recommendations. It was agreed that a tenure policy would contribute to more fresh thinking and dynamism among the workforce, and discussions would continue in 2024. The Assembly adopted a stand-alone resolution to establish such a policy.   

While discussions throughout 2023 suggested that the Review Mechanism would conclude its work following the 22nd ASP session, the Assembly decided to extend the mandate of the Mechanism through the 23rd session (December 2024) to oversee the implementation of the tenure policy.  


On 13 December 2023, during the dedicated annual plenary session on the Review Mechanism,  Ambassador Michael Kanu (Sierra Leone) and Ambassador Paul van den IJssel (The Netherlands) provided an update on the work of the Mechanism in the past year, before turning to the Court focal points on the Review and a representative from civil society, Oumou Bah of the Guinean National Coalition for the ICC, who spoke about the impact of the Court and of the Review process in Guinea. Ms Bah highlighted the crucial role played by civil society in the Review process since its inception, focusing specifically on the issues of communication and outreach. She concluded by recommending the process remain as accessible and transparent as possible to facilitate the active participation of civil society. Finally, several states took the floor, followed by civil society representatives Yasmina Gourchane on behalf of the CICC Review Team, and Maria Elena Vignoli of Human Rights Watch.  


List of resolutions adopted at ASP22:  

  1. Resolution on amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Criminal Court (ICC-ASP/22/Res.1)
  2. Resolution on Amendment to article 39 of the Rome Statute (ICC-ASP/22/Res.2)
  3. Resolution on strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of States Parties (“Omnibus Resolution”) (ICC-ASP/22/Res.3);  
  4. Resolution of the Assembly of States Parties on the proposed programme budget for 2024, the Working Capital Fund for 2024, the scale of assessment for the apportionment of expenses of the International Criminal Court, financing appropriations for 2024 and the Contingency Fund (ICC-ASP/22/Res.4) 
  5. Resolution on cooperation (ICC-ASP/22/Res.5) 
  6. Resolution on the Review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute system (ICC-ASP/22/Res.6) 
  7. Resolution of the Assembly of States Parties regarding the implementation of the tenure policy (ICC-ASP/22/Res.7) 
  8. Resolution on the election of Members to the Committee on Budget and Finance of the International Criminal Court (ICC-ASP/22/Res.8) 


The 23rd session of the Assembly of States Parties, #ASP23, will take place from 2 – 7 December 2024 in The Hague, the Netherlands. 


More info and resources from ASP22: 


All civil society statements delivered at ASP22.  

ASP22 official webpage.