Elections' finale, General Debate commences

Assembly of States Parties 2017

6 December 2017

Final judge elected, General Debate kicks off

Elections finale

Day three of ASP 16 began with the election of  Mr. Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Italy, List A) as ICC judge, the sixth and final judicial candidate to be elected at this ASP session. Mr. Aitala joins Ms. Akane (Japan), Ms. Bossa (Uganda), Ms. Ibanez Carranza (Peru), Ms. Prost (Canada) and Ms. Alapini-Gansou (Benin) as the 6 new ICC judges to be sworn in for a nine year term in March 2018.

The plenary meeting continued with the election of ASP Bureau members to fill the four seats allocated to the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC). While the ASP Bureau members are usually elected by acclamation after consensus is reached within the respective regional groups, the GRULAC was unable to reach consensus by the opening of ASP16 on Monday when the other 14 new ASP Bureau members were elected. One round of voting today saw Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, and Colombia become the newest four members of the Bureau for the next three years.

With the next ASP President and the ASP Bureau members elected, the only election left is that for the two ASP Vice-Presidents, scheduled to take place on a later date in this session.


General debate begins with high-level shows of support

The traditional General Debate segment kicked off on Wednesday of ASP16 with an encouraging number of high-level government representatives taking the floor to present their states' positions on various issues within the Rome Statute system. As the Coalition reminded ICC member states in its recommendations to ASP16, entering its 20th year the Rome Statute system can greatly enhance its reach through high-level reminders of the central and unique role of the Court in building peaceful and inclusive societies.

General Debate statements began with the Minister of Justice of Belgium calling for simple activation of the crime of aggression and adoption of the state’s proposal to insert four new war crimes into the Rome Statute. The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa reaffirmed the government’s intent to withdraw from the ICC and announced that it would start the national procedure in that respect, including repealing national implementing legislation. This declaration stood in stark contrast to the subsequent statement by the Gambian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who referenced his government’s decision to stay with the ICC in early 2017 on the grounds of their staunch support for international justice.

The Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia meanwhile acknowledged the work of the national civil society and the Coalition for the ICC in an address that highlighted, among others, the importance of the ICC investigation in Georgia, the need for entry into force of the Rome Statute amendment on the crime of aggression, and Georgia’s contribution to the Trust Fund for Victims.

After a number of other governments took the floor on 6 December, the General Debate will pick up again at 10:00 am EST on Day 7.

Side event spotlight: Trust Fund for Victims

The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), Finland, Ireland, and Uruguay co-organized an event on Reparative justice for victims, making reparations a reality to take stock of the TFV's implementation of the Court's reparative justice mandate and to generate financial, political, and moral support. Governments and members of civil society attending the event heard from TFV Executive Director, Pieter de Baan, as well as from general assistance-implementing partner in northern Uganda, the Center for Victims of Torture. The event also allowed participants to hear perspectives on reparative justice from the TFV Board of Directors, and for governments to engage with the TFV and implementing partners on how to translate reparations and general assistance from a legal tenet into a tangible reality for victims. During the event, Finland announced a new €800,000 ear-marked donation for victims of sexual and gender-based crimes, while Ireland described plans to raise the visibility and awareness of the TFV and its activities in northern Uganda.

Numerous side events top off ASP day three

Today, numerous side events occupied many of the United Nations conference rooms as well as several outside venues.

One side event on day three of ASP16 considered Peace in the DRC: MONUSCO from a Multi-stakeholder Perspective, co-hosted by World Federation United Nations Associations (WFUNA), the United Nations Association of Sweden and the United Nations Association of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Challenge of Effective Cooperation:The Case of Côte d'Ivoire was meanwhile addressed in an event co-hosted by Trust Africa, Observatoire Ivoirien des Droits de l’Homme, and American Jewish World Service.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, MADRE and Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ), together with Switzerland, presented An examination of gender justice crimes and current conflicts (Central African Republic and Iraq) and reflections on progress over the past 15 years. The event also featured the launch of WIGJ's new publication "The Compendium."

On topics of complementarity, universality, and prevention, Belgium and Senegal held an event on Fighting impunity for the most serious crimes – Strengthening the central role of National Jurisdictions; Parliamentarians for Global Action joined with Denmark and Germany to organize the event Universality of the Rome Statute within the broader Human Rights Agenda - The Role of Parliamentarians; and Lawyers for Justice in Libya and The Netherlands presented The Importance of Deterrance and the ICC’s Role in Current Violations.

REDRESS Trust and Avocats Sans Frontières, under the auspices of the NGO Victims' Rights Working Group and with the support of Finland and the United Kingdom, organized an event around the topical issue of Legal Representation of Victims at the ICC and Beyond.

Finally the topic of Climate Ecocide: A Crime of Our Time was addressed in a side event organized by the Institute of Environmental Security and Ecological Defence Integrity.

The Tweets From Day 3

Tomorrow at ASP

The ASP continues tomorrow, Thursday 7 December, with the continuation of the General Debate at 10 am.

Civil society will deliver statements during the General Debate, raising key positions to inform the decision-making process of states for the remainder of the ASP session. NGOs will also raise concerns that are not prominently featured - if at all - on the ASP program. All statements will be made available on the website of the ASP.

A second round of informal consultations on the activation of the crime of aggression will wrap up the day. 

Thursday boasts another full day of side events including:

Global Civil Society & European States: How to advance International Justice?, co-hosted by Estonia, European Union and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

Global Launch of the Gender Justice Legacy Wall, co-hosted by New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice

The Need for International Criminal Court Intervention in Extrajudicial Killings for Drug Offenses, hosted by Help Not Handcuffs, Inc. and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Augmented Funding for the ICC, co-hosted by Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

The MLA-initiative: Towards a new Multilateral Treaty for Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition for Domestic Prosecution of the Most Serious International Crimes, co-hosted by Argentina, Belgium, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Senegal, and Slovenia.

International Nuremberg Principles Academy, co-hosted by Germany and the International Nuremberg Principles Academy.

Victims of Hissène Habré: the struggle for reparations continues, co-hosted by Switzerland, Africa Legal Aid, Association tchadienne pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l’Homme, Human Rights Watch, and REDRESS.

Weaving the Strands - Domestic, Regional, Hybrid, and ICC Justice, co-hosted by Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Wayamo Foundation, and the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability.

Options for Justice: Designing Accountability Mechanisms for Grave Crimes, co-hosted by Liechtenstein and the Open Society Justice Initiative.