|The ICC's Assembly of States Parties meeting, in The Hague.|
Plenary Session on Complementarity: Inspired by the interest in the issue of complementarity - the preference for and deference to domestic criminal prosecutions for atrocity crimes - following the 2010 Review Conference, the ASP scheduled a special plenary session featuring contributions from experts, Court officials, governments and representatives from NGOs. The ASP held a similar session on the issue of cooperation on Friday, November 16. Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand and current administrator of the UN Development Program, delivered delivered a keynote address about the role international development agencies, such as UNDP and others, can contribute to domestic capacity for dealing with ICC crimes. While recognizing the expectations for justice raised by the ICC as well as its limited capacity, Ms. Clark urged governments to take responsibility to deliver justice. The attorney general of Guatemala, a judge from the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the president of the International Center for Transitional Justice also made expert interventions.
Among the statements made by governments, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Stephen J. Rapp spoke on behalf of the United States. He lauded the ASP's crucial discussion on both the policy and practice of complementarity. Ambassador Rapp highlighted the importance to governments - States Parties and non-States Parties alike - to strengthen domestic capacity in a manner that is both concerted and coordinated. Using the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an example, he emphasized that the US supports ICC prosecutions as well as national justice, in particular through:
- Funding support of complementarity;
- Using the tools of diplomacy to support complementarity;
- Providing technical and legal assistance to national systems; and
- Improving fugitive tracking efforts.
Ambassador Rapp also cited the establishment by the White House of the US government's inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) which will ensure more accountability in US courts for atrocity crimes.
Working Group on Amendments: On Monday afternoon, the Working Group on Amendments - the ASP's standing body established to deal with proposed amendments to the Rome Statute - agreed to recommend that the ASP adopt an amendment to the Court's Rules and Procedure and Evidence. Once it is adopted tomorrow, the new Rule 132 bis will permit a single judge to perform the functions of a Trial Chamber for the purposes of trial preparation. The amendment was agreed by consensus and is expected to expedite ICC trial preparation.
2013 ICC Budget: The ASP's budget working group met this morning to finalize the agreement reached Friday on the Court's 2013 budget and to transmit the resolution and report to the ASP as a whole. Despite an effort by one government to change some language in one of the annexes of the budget, States Parties held firmly to the compromise budget of approximately 115 million Euros and refused to reopen any text for negotiation. The ASP will approve the budget at tomorrow afternoon's final plenary session.
Other Resolutions: The ASP will also adopt by consensus other resolutions, including on cooperation, complementarity, victims and the Independent Oversight Mechanism, a matter which has been deferred again until the next session. The omnibus resolution, which covers many subjects, has been pared down this year because some issues are now covered by stand-alone resolutions. According to the latest draft of the omnibus, the next ASP will be held November 20-28, 2013 in The Hague.
NGO Events and Activities: The ambitious ASP agenda has included many substantive and helpful contributions by civil society to the work of the ICC's governing body, including facilitating dialogue between NGOs and governments, and highlighting important issues such as the relationship between the ICC and the UN Security Council and a new initiative to adopt an international crimes against humanity treaty. AMICC attended and participated in many of these meetings, most of which drew significant interest and substantive discussion. In addition, several AMICC members have also been active at this ASP, including Human Rights Watch, CASIN (especially on Twitter) and the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights' ICC Project (and its delegate's article on funding international justice).
AMICC's reporting from The Hague ends today but will culminate in a final report, to be released on our website in early December.