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Informal Daily Summary from the ASP: Thursday, 19 November 2009
19 Nov 2009
Please find below an informal summary of the second day of the eighth session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) (I); as well as related new articles, including pieces quoting CICC Convenor and member organization HRW (II).
Please note that official ASP documents can be found on the ICC website at: http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/Sessions/Documentation/8th+Session/Eighth+session+of+the+Assembly+of+States+Parties.htm
All documents produced by the CICC are available on the CICC website at: http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/?mod=asp8
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need further information.
I. INFORMAL SUMMARY OF SECOND ASP DAY
Today, the plenary session of the ASP was dedicated to the general debate in which statements were made by 38 States Parties, including Sweden on behalf of the European Union. Furthermore, a non-State Party, the ICRC, the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission and 8 NGOs delivered statements. A number of States have requested to deliver on their statement on Friday 20 November.
During the session, the following States Parties made statements. Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, DRC, Ecuador , Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, South Africa, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, as well as Sweden on behalf of the European Union. The United States, as an observer state, made a statement.
During the afternoon session, the following NGOs delivered statements: the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, REDRESS, Amnesty International, No Peace Without Justice, Parliamentarians for Global Action, Fédération internationale de la Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, and Human Rights Network Uganda - HURINET. These statements will be posted on the CICC website at: http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/?mod=asp8
Issues raised by States Parties included, among others, budget, cooperation, the review conference (in particular the definition of the crime of aggression and the stocktaking exercise), the establishment of an oversight mechanism, issues related to victims, ICC communications, universality, complementarity and the recognition for the role of NGOs.
Issues raised by NGOs included the importance of justice over expediency, cooperation and universality, prosecutorial policy, field presence, outreach, the Review Conference, legal aid and legal representation of victims, the work of the Trust Fund for Victims and the principle of complementarity.
b. SIDE EVENTS
In the morning, the CICC held a briefing with the media on pressing issues debated at the ASP. William Pace, Convenor of the CICC, presented the views of the Coalition on some of the central issues being discussed at the eighth ASP including preparation for the 2010 review conference, the importance of cooperation and the creation of an ICC/AU office. Mohammed Ndifuna, Executive Director of Human Rights Network –Uganda, discussed prospects for the review conference, including HURIDOC’s project. (See: http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/NPWJ-HURINETU-UCICCStatementReviewConfProjectFINAL.pdf ) Elizabeth M. Evenson, Counsel for the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, addressed the issue of increasing support for the ICC, the crucial importance of improved cooperation with the Court and the necessity for the Court to raise its public profile. Journalists asked questions about the crime of aggression, the US delegation participation in this ASP, article 16 of the Rome Statute, cooperation, in particular how to secure arrest of ICC suspects, and budget issues including the question of parallel vs. consecutive trials.
>From 1 to 3 p.m., a lunch meeting gathered NGOs and government representatives of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Discussions focused on the issue of ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute in the region. Sudan and Palestine were two major areas of discussion.
A lunch of the Justice Rapid Response (JRR) Policy Group was organized to update Policy Group members on developments since the last Policy Group meeting held in November 2008 and to seek approval of the plan of action for JRR for coming months. More information on the JRR is available at: http://www.justicerapidresponse.org/
Kristin Kalla, Acting Director of the Trust Fund Secretariat and Eduardo Pizarro Leon Gomez, a newly elected Member of the Trust Fund’s Board, held an open discussion on issues surrounding the Trust Fund for Victims.
A meeting at lunchtime was organised by the ICC to discuss its witness protection programme and the new modalities for Relocation Agreement of the Trust Fund for Third States Relocation.
In the evening, the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice launched its 2009 Gender Report Card 2008 on the International Criminal Court. The report will be made available at: http://www.iccwomen.org/
II. MEDIA COVERAGE
i. “U.S. Makes Debut Attendance At Hague War Crimes Court,” by Aaron Gray-Block (REUTERS), 19 November 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE5AI3G220091119
“ U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues Stephen Rapp made a debut appearance for the United States at the world's war crimes court Thursday and said the U.S. remained wary of politically driven prosecutions.
… ‘Our view has been and remains that should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred,’ he said.
… William Pace, one of the conveners of a coalition of groups supporting the ICC, said although the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama was not calling Rapp's attendance at the ICC meeting a policy change, he welcomed what was ‘essentially a constructive speech of re-engagement.’
‘We are not surprised that every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council wants to keep as much control over the power to determine whether an act of aggression has occurred as they interpret the U.N. charter to give them,’ he said.
But Pace said most other countries do not believe the Security Council's permanent members should have sole control over determining whether an act of aggression has occurred.
… Elizabeth Evenson, counsel at the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, dismissed the United States' concerns, stressing the independence of the prosecution and ICC judges.
‘We are hoping the U.S. will see that there is nothing in the experience of the ICC that would give them the hesitation to think that this is a politically motivated court,’ she said….”
ii. “Not a member, US envoy attends international court,” by MIKE CORDER (AP), 19 November 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hXEDeYokPsE9f1WDen0SImG9S62QD9C2MI481
“The American war crimes ambassador said Thursday the U.S. is committed to ending impunity for crimes against humanity, in a speech signaling a softening of hostility toward the International Criminal Court.
Stephen Rapp's brief remarks marked the first time a U.S. diplomat has addressed the 110-nation Assembly of State Parties, which oversees the court's work and budget.
He also held a string of bilateral meetings and told delegates he was there to listen and learn.
… Rapp also signaled that Washington wants a role in drafting a definition of the crime of aggression for inclusion in the court's statutes.
Diplomats and lawyers have been haggling for years over a definition of aggression, and a way of referring those responsible it to the court. The debate is expected to come to a head next year at a conference in Uganda to discuss changes to the Rome Statute.
Rapp said the decision to prosecute a crime of aggression should rest with the Security Council — where the U.S. has a veto, as do Britain, France, Russia and China.
Other countries argue the U.N. General Assembly or the International Court of Justice should have that power.
… "We very much welcome their presence," Elizabeth Evenson of New York-based Human Rights Watch said of Rapp and his team. But she acknowledged that American ratification of the court was likely still years away.”
iii. "Una argentina será jueza de la Corte Penal Internacional," Clarin (Argentina), 18 November 2009
http://www.clarin.com/diario/2009/11/18/um/m-02043711.htm (Informal translation)
“The argentine Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, current general director for Human Rights Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was elected to serve at the International Criminal Court (ICC), a tribunal created 11 years ago after the adoption of the Rome Statute.
… The Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Taiana highlighted ‘the election acknowledged her credentials and her expertise, and also demonstrates the commitment of the Argentine government in the struggle against humanity and in the promotion of human rights.’…"
iv. “US war crimes envoy appears at International Court,” BBC News, 19 November 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8369164.stm
v. “Japan's Ozaki elected as judge of International Criminal Court,” Kyodo News, 18 November 2009, http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=471431
vi. “Ozaki elected judge of International Criminal Court,”19 November 2009, http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/ozaki-elected-judge-of-international-criminal-court
vii. “Eduardo Pizarro, nuevo miembro del fondo de víctimas de la CPI,” El Pais, 19 November 2009, http://www.elpais.com.co/paisonline/notas/Noviembre182009/eduardopizarro.html