State cooperation crucial for an effective ICC

Assembly of States Parties 2017

11 December 2017

Cooperation in assets recovery: A crucial step

Cooperation between states and the ICC has been a central topic weaving into the majority of discussions taking place at ASP16. Day six at ASP16 picked up discussions from week one in a dedicated plenary meeting on cooperation. The meeting was divided into two segments, the first to follow-up on a year of discussions on the topic of state cooperation with the ICC in the recovery of financial assets.

The ASP panel took place a little over a month after the October Paris Seminar, arranged by the Bureau’s cooperation co-facilitators from France and Senegal to garner political support for a declaration on both ICC member states’ and the Court’s objectives—within their respective mandates—in relation to the tracking, freezing, and recovery of assets.

During the panel it was emphasized that financial investigations conducted by states, for example with respect to illegal money laundering, is not only vital to making reparations following conviction possible, but may also produce evidence that can be used to identify perpetrators and bolster witness testimonies before the ICC. The ASP has identified the tracking, freezing, and recovery of financial assets as one of the key current cooperation recommendations to ICC member states.

During the panel, the Assembly heard from the ICC Prosecutor, the ICC Registrar, outgoing ASP Vice-President Sergio Ugalde, and representatives from the Organization of American States and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on topics including the role for inter-agency networks—for example within the UNODC framework—to fill gaps in states’ capacity to conduct financial investigations.

A second panel took place during the session on the future of cooperation with the International Criminal Court. The four person panel, featuring Mr. O-Gon Kwon, President-elect of the ASP, Mr. Francois Molins, Prosecutor of Paris, Mr. Xavier-Jean Keita from the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence (OPCD), and Coalition Convenor Mr. Bill Pace made interventions stating the challenges and opportunites related to cooperation.

Cooperation spotlight: NGOs deliver joint statement

During the open debate section of the second cooperation panel (on the future of cooperation with the International Criminal Court) Stella Ndirangu of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice delivered a joint NGO statement to the plenary session participants. In the statement - signed by the following 11 NGOs: Al-Haq, Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Institute for Security Studies, International Justice Project, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, the Moroccan Coalition for the ICC, the Nigerian Coalition for the ICC, No Peace Without Justice, and REDRESS - NGOs voiced their concerns regarding non-cooperation on behalf of States Parties and the lack of attention paid to the issue by the Assembly.

"When states do not cooperate with the Court, victims are denied justice. Women, men and children who look to the Court for justice are denied that opportunity. We regret, therefore, the Assembly’s limited attention to addressing non-cooperation."

Read the full statement

News: Non-cooperation a live concern

Cooperation in areas such as the recovery of financial assets is, like cooperation with enforcement of sentences, witness relocation, and hosting of persons released by the ICC, voluntary under the Rome Statute; although as ASP participants have highlighted this session, the ramifications of failing to provide such forms of voluntary cooperation can be massive, for example with respect to the Court’s ability to effectively grant reparation for victims.

As developments and a side event on day six highlighted, other forms of cooperation, however, are legally binding on ICC member states, and failures to comply with related requests for cooperation from the Court can result in judicial and diplomatic consequences.

On 11 December, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II found that the government of Jordan failed to comply with an existing obligation to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the territory for the Arab League Summit in March 2017—and referred the matter to the ASP and the UN Security Council. Such referrals were the subject of a side event on day six organized by Norway, the Netherlands, and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and called How the Security Council and ASP can improve States cooperation with the ICC.

Allan Ngari, senior research at ISS, moderated the panel discussion, during which Dr. Marx du Plessis (research associate at ISS), Julian Nicholls (senior trial lawyer with the ICC OTP), Dapo Akande (professor of international law at Oxford), and James Kingston (legal advisor with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) presented on topics from ensuring cooperation in Security Council resolutions referring situations for ICC investigation, to challenges posed by diplomatic immunity arguments.

Side event central: Day six

On the first day of ASP week two, a number of side events took place including one related to cooperation, the theme of the morning plenary session. The event, How the Security Council and ASP can improve States' cooperation with the ICC was co-hosted by Ireland, Norway and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

Another side event related to today's afternoon discussion on the crime of agression, took place during the lunch hour. Hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein, From Nuremberg to New York: The historic activation of the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in 2017.  

Several other side events took place later in the day including:

The Role of the ICC in Promoting Accountability for Grave Crimes Committed in Ukraine, co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the UN, the International Renaissance Foundation, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), the Regional Centre for Human Rights, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Crimea-SOS, and Truth Hounds.

Progress in Drafting a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity, co-hosted by Chilie, Germany, Jordan, the Republic of Lorea, Sierra Leone and the International Law Commission (ILC).

Cinq ans après la crise de 2012: quelles avancées dans la lutte contre l'impunité au Mali, co-hosted by Canada, Association malienne des droits de l’Homme (AMDH), Coalition malienne pour la Cour pénale internationale, Fédération internationale des ligues de droits de l’Homme (FIDH) and Lawyers Without Borders Canada.

The Situation of Palestine: A test for the ICC, co-hosted by the State of Palestine, Al Haq, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Sharing Experience from a Francophone West African Journalist Training on ICJ, co-hosted by Senegal, the Netherlands, and TrustAfrica.

The Tweets From Day 6

Tomorrow at ASP

On day seven, 12 December, GQUAL Campaign, together with the Coalition for the ICC and Estonia, will be hosting a side event on Better Balance, Better Justice: Improving Gender Equality at the International Criminal Court. The event will feature a panel with the ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel; ICC Judge-elect Kim Prost (current Chef de Cabinet to the ICC President); Center for Justice and International Law Executive Director Viviana Krsticevic on behalf of the GQUAL Campaign; TFV Board Member and Mali Coalition for the ICC President Mama Koité Doumbia; and Coalition Deputy Executive Director Jelena Pia-Comella (10:00-12:00, CR6).

More on the event


Day seven will see a number of additional events take place:

  • A briefing by the ICC Prosecutor to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Darfur (11:00-13:00, Security Council)
  • Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Crimes: Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, co-hosted by Norway, the United Kingdom, and Centre for International Law Research and Policy (13:15-14:30, CR2)
  • Challenges of the Colombian Peace Process: Guaranteeing victims’ rights under the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, co-hosted by Canada Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, Corporación Humanas, and Lawyers Without Borders Canada (13:15-14:30, CR12)
  • War Against Women and the Pursuit of Peace and Justice, co-hosted by Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the Darfur Women Action Group (13:15-15:00, CR6)
  • A panel session on West-Papua: Forensic Mapping and Ecocide,” co-hosted by Vanuatu and Institute for Environmental Security (18:30-20:30, CR7)