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Informal Daily Summary from the ASP: Wednesday, 18 November 2009
18 Nov 2009
I. ASP PLENARY AND SIDE- EVENTS DAILY SUMMARY
a. ASP PLENARY
The Plenary Session opened with an introductory statement by Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, followed by a minute of silence, and finally the adoption of the agenda for the ASP session.
ICC President Judge Song, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and ICC Registrar Silvana Arbia delivered speeches to report on their activities over the past year. Issues tackled by President Song encompassed the most recent development in the activities of the Court and the priorities for his Presidency: independence, effectiveness of the Court and a model of public administration.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo highlighted the important role of States in the Rome Statute system and announced his intention to use his proprio motu powers in the situation of Kenya among many other issues.
Finally, issues raised by Registrar Silvana Arbia included the importance of the creation of an African Union Liaison office, legal aid, family visits to indigent detainees and emphasized the importance of victims participation and protection.
In the morning, an informal session was held to discuss the draft of the omnibus resolution i.e. the resolution “Strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of States Parties”, chaired by Emmanuel Bichet of Switzerland.
The election of the members of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims concluded the morning Plenary Session. Bulgaa ALTANGEREL (Mongolia), Betty Kaari MURUNGI (Kenya), Eduardo PIZARRO LEONGÓMEZ (Colombia) Elisabeth REHN (Finland) and Vaira VĪĶE-FREIBERGA (Latvia) were elected as Directors, starting on December 1st 2009 for a three year-term.
In the afternoon, the plenary session resumed with the Judicial Elections, electing Kuniko OZAKI (Japan) and Silvia FERNÁNDEZ DE GURMENDI (Argentina) to serve as ICC judges. For more information, see: http://coalitionfortheicc.
c. SIDE EVENTS
>From 1 to 3 pm, the CICC organized a lunch meeting on the Review Conference with NGOs, ICC officials and Governments Officials. Many participants emphasized the necessity during this ASP to identify the issues to be dealt with during the stocktaking exercise as well as to decide on necessary preparations to the Kampala conference.
In the afternoon, Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, President of the ASP gave a press conference on the opening of the ASP Session. Issues raised included the crime of aggression, the US participation as an observer to the ASP and potentially to the Review Conference, and the role of the Trust Fund for Victims.
In the evening, the CICC facilitated a meeting of NGOs with three of the five newly elected Directors of the Trust fund for Victims: Bulgaa ALTANGEREL (Mongolia), Eduardo PIZARRO LEON GÓMEZ (Colombia) and Elisabeth REHN (Finland).
The same evening, Elizabeth Evenson, Counsel of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch delivered a lecture on “Selling Justice Short: Why Accountability Matters for Peace” at the Asser Institute in The Hague. The Supranational Criminal Law Lectures series are by the CICC in collaboration with the T.M.C Asser Institute and the Grotius Centre.
II. MEDIA RELEASES AND REPORTS
a. MEDIA RELEASES
i. “CICC Press Briefing at eighth annual ASP meeting -- NGOs to Present Key Issues at Stake; Assembly Will Have Significant Impact on ICC Operations and 2010 Review Conference,” CICC Media Advisory, 11 November 2009, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.
“WHAT: The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) — a global network of civil society organizations in 150 countries advocating for a fair, effective and independent ICC — will brief members of the media on pressing issues to be debated at the upcoming session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and in particular on preparations for the 2010 Review Conference.
WHEN: Thursday, 19 November 2009 at 11 a.m.
WHERE: Antarctica Room, World Forum Center, Churchillplein 10, The Hague, The Netherlands.
WHO: Panel participants will include:
- William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the ICC, who will present the views of the Coalition on some of the central issues to be discussed at the eighth ASP;
- Mohammed Ndifuna, Executive Director of Human Rights Network –Uganda, who will discuss prospects for the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute to be held in Kampala, Uganda from 31 May and 11 June 2010;
- Ms. Elizabeth M. Evenson, Counsel for the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, who will address the issue of increasing support for the ICC and strengthening international justice.
WHY: Next week, representatives from each of the now 110 ICC member states will gather in The Hague from 18 to 26 November 2009 for the eighth annual Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC.
The eighth session will be one of its most important as many of the issues before the governing body of the ICC will have considerable impact on the functioning of the Court and the future of the Rome Statute system. At the meeting, member states will adopt the Court’s 2010 budget and discuss a number of issues central to its functioning, including cooperation with the ICC, legal aid to victims and suspects, funding of family visits to indigent detainees, ICC communications and field operations. The session will also serve as the preparatory meeting for next year’s Review Conference of the Rome Statute. Finally, States will elect two new ICC judges and five directors of the board of the Trust Fund for Victims.
Each year, the ASP is a pivotal event for the more than 200 NGOs attending as observers. Through advocacy meetings, thematic hearings, regional lunches, position papers and a media briefing, the CICC and its 12 issue-based teams will seek to influence governments and Court officials on a wide range of issues to ensure that the Court functions in a fair, effective and independent manner….”
ii. “ICC: Promote Global Support for Court -- Use Annual Gathering of 110 Members to Confront Critics, Strengthen International Justice,” Media release, Human Rights Watch, 17 November 2009, http://www.hrw.
“International Criminal Court member countries should use their annual meeting to strengthen international support for the court's mission and independence, Human Rights Watch said today. The ICC Assembly of States Parties, which oversees court administration, will meet in The Hague for nine days beginning November 18, 2009.
The ICC made important progress this year, including the start of its first trial, Human Rights Watch said. But the court faces significant challenges, including outstanding arrest warrants in three of the four countries in which it has investigations and efforts to undermine the court by allies of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, who is being sought for crimes against humanity in Darfur.
‘The ICC has made mistakes that need to be tackled,’ said Elizabeth Evenson, counsel in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. ‘But the ICC's 110 member countries should step up their efforts to uphold its critical role as a court of last resort and to respond vigorously to the court's unprincipled opponents.’
Many ICC members, including African members, are working to reaffirm their commitment to international justice. For example, at least two African ICC members - South Africa and Botswana - rejected an African Union decision in July to withhold cooperation to arrest President al-Bashir. Human Rights Watch called on ICC members to use the annual meeting to speak out forcefully on the ICC's crucial function and to encourage the court to strengthen its own public information activities.
ICC members will also gather next May in Kampala, Uganda for a review conference mandated by the Rome Statute, which created the court and entered into force in 2002. At the meeting, member countries will take stock of the state of international criminal justice and consider amendments to the Rome Statute. Extending the reach of international justice and assessing its impact on communities affected by crimes within the ICC's jurisdiction are among the topics states should address at that conference, Human Rights Watch said.
‘Taking stock of the achievements and shortcomings of international justice at the review conference will help to identify and meet challenges in the years ahead,’ Evenson said. ‘ICC member countries should ensure that careful preparation for the review conference is made now to deliver results in Kampala.’
Increased international cooperation is essential to the success of the court, Human Rights Watch said. ICC member countries should bolster these efforts by creating a permanent working group to address such issues as concluding witness relocation and sentence enforcement agreements.
In reviewing the court's annual budget at the meeting, member countries should ensure that the court has the resources it needs in The Hague and through its presence in countries where it is conducting investigations, as well as in key capitals including New York and Addis Ababa. The ICC prosecutor recently announced he would seek authorization to open a fifth ICC investigation, in Kenya.
‘Increasing ICC activities and fulfilling higher expectations of justice mean that governments will need to continue to invest in the court,’ said Evenson.
In a memorandum sent to governments last week, Human Rights Watch called attention to a number of other issues likely to be under discussion during the meeting. These include the need to set a policy for court-paid family visits for indigent ICC detainees, make certain that two judges to be elected during the meeting are the most highly qualified candidates, and prepare to elect the next ICC prosecutor. Human Rights Watch also reiterated the need for court officials to continue to make progress in building an effective, fair, and credible institution….”
iii. “8TH ASSEMBLY OF STATE PARTIES TO THE ICC: NPWJ CALLS FOR A STRONGER INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, THROUGH IMPLEMENTATION, COOPERATION AND AN INTENSIFIED ICC FIELD PRESENCE,” Media release, No Peace Without Justice, 18 November 2008, http://coalitionfortheicc.
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) is participating in the Eighth Session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court, to be held in The Hague on 18 – 26 November 2008.
NPWJ, which is a founding member of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) and which has been one of the organisations at the forefront of promoting the establishment and entry into force of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) and continues to work for its universal ratification, has participated in every session of the ASP since its first session in 2002, the year the ICC was established.
At the Eighth Session of the ASP, NPWJ's delegation will be headed by Secretary-General Niccolo’ Figa’-Talamanca, who will also address the Assembly during the General Debate on Thursday, 19 November 2008.
Eleven years after the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the 8th ASP is a good opportunity for State parties to reaffirm their strong commitment to peace and justice and to promotion of universal ratification and full implementation of the Rome Statute. NPWJ therefore urges States Parties who have not done so to fulfill their obligations to enact implementing legislation as soon as possible. NPWJ also calls on all States Parties to cooperate fully with the ICC in its investigations and judicial actions, especially in ensuring the prompt arrest and surrender of any person, regardless of their status, who is the subject of a Court arrest warrant, in particular those currently evading justice in relation to events in Darfur and Uganda.
NPWJ also considers that the ICC Review Conference, to be held in Kampala (Uganda) in June 2010, provides an unprecedented opportunity to conduct a stock-taking that can set the policy tone and direction for the Court in the years to come as well as to enhance ICC States Parties’ understanding of the justice needs and experiences of communities affected by the Court’s work. We call on State Parties to the ICC to give their full support to the Uganda-wide initiative launched by NPWJ, the Human Rights Network - Uganda (HURINET-U) and the Ugandan Coalition on the International Criminal Court (UCICC), with the support of the Government of Uganda, aimed at ensuring engagement between ICC States Parties and the people affected by their work.
The 8th ASP will also see the third meeting of the Policy Group of the Justice Rapid Response (JRR), currently chaired by Canada, with the support of NPWJ in its capacity as the Interim JRR Secretariat. JRR is a multilateral cooperative mechanism for the supply of expertise and assistance responding to a request of a State or international institution, where the identification, collection and preservation of information would assist a wide range of international and transitional justice options. NPWJ encourages all States Parties to attend this meeting and support the JRR, as a practical mechanism designed to support efforts to end impunity worldwide.
Finally, NPWJ welcomes the ongoing efforts made by the ICC to increase its field presence and urges States Parties to support the Court on this matter, in order to maximise its impact on local populations and strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of its work….”
iv. “Eighth session of the Assembly of States Parties,” ICC Media Advisory ICC-ASP-20091116-