Monday, May 31, 2010

Review Conference begins with UN Secretaries-General; US suggestions on cooperation

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the presidents of the ICC, its Assembly of States Parties and the host government of Uganda today opened the ICC Review Conference in Kampala. The ICC Prosecutor and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also participated in the opening high-level segment.

In his opening address, the UN Secretary Ban declared the birth of the "age of accountability," and that peace and justice and complementary and must go hand-in-hand.

The ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, reported on his investigations and stated that LRA leader Joseph Kony must be arrested.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who convened the Rome Conference in 1998 which established the ICC, recalled the ultimate purpose of its creation: to end impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. He called for the conference, taking place in the heart of Africa, to celebrate all that the ICC has achieved. Annan said, “Justice is the partner, not the enemy, of peace.”

[Review Conference speeches are available here.]

Later, at a meeting with NGOs, Ban praised Annan:

The US delegation is one of the largest, between 14 and 20 delegates, representing all stakeholders in the ICC policy process. While the US has not yet made its statement in the general debate, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp made some informal remarks at an NGO meeting on the cooperation of countries with the ICC. In particular, he highlighted the ways in which a non-State Party to the ICC could assist the Court, including through political and diplomatic support, sharing of information and witness assistance. He reiterated the US interest in seeing justice done and with cooperating with the current cases before the ICC.

Secretary-General opens Review Conference - Hopeful that US will join the ICC

Opening the Review Conference today in Kampala, UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon called on national delegates to ensure universal support for the Court in the fight against impunity.

Speaking in front of reporters afterwards, Secretary-General Ban specifically welcomed the attendance of the United States as an observer to the conference and expressed his hope that the US would join the ICC:

“Under the leadership of President Obama, I understand the United States is very seriously reviewing all of its policies and I do hope the U.S. will join the ICC as soon as possible”

AMICC has a team in Kampala and will give regular updates through our blog, facebook, and twitter. Photo Credit: apakistannews

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Victims' Football Game on Eve of Review Conference in Kampala

On the afternoon before the opening day of the Review Conference, the AMICC team joined other NGOs, government diplomats and people from communities affected by ICC crimes for the War Victims Day Football Game at Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Kampala, Uganda. President Museveni of Uganda and UN Secretary-General Ban both played in the match. Check out a short clip:

The event was open to the public and one of the few opportunities for ICC delegates to interact directly with the people of Kampala as well as victims of serious atrocity crimes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

[Watch] US policy towards ICC pre-Kampala

The American Society of International Law (ASIL) recently held an event on U.S. policy towards the upcoming International Criminal Court Review Conference. Among the speakers were Ambassador Stephen Rapp, Harold Koh and Rosa Brooks. See the whole briefing here, and make sure to watch at 55 minutes for a discussion on aggression by Ben Ferencz.

Secretary-General declares 'Age of Accountability'

The UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon announced today that a new ‘age of accountability’ has replaced an older ‘age of impunity’ with the successful establishment of the ICC. The Secretary-General is currently preparing to convene the Review Conference of the ICC in Uganda, but found time to issue a statement strongly reaffirming his support for the Court and its central role within the international system of justice. Furthermore, he called on all countries to join the ICC in its ongoing campaign against impunity.

In regards to his role as Convener of the Review Conference [which AMICC is attending and will be reporting on], the Secretary-General pledged that he will do everything in his power “to help advance the fight against impunity and usher in the new age of accountability.” Photo Credit: AFP Don Emmert

[In the News] Sudanese government referred to Security Council

This week, the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC referred the Sudanese government to the UN Security Council for non-cooperation. At issue is the refusal by Sudan to arrest two individuals wanted by the Court for numerous alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Darfur region.

In addition to the two men, the President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir is subject to an ICC arrest warrant for alleged atrocity crimes, however that case has no direct connection to the current referral to the Security Council.

Thus far the Sudanese government has steadfastly refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. Nevertheless, although Sudan is not a member of the ICC, it must comply with all Court requests under the terms of a 2005 Security Council resolution. Now, the Security Council must decide what action to take to compel the Sudanese government to fulfill its international obligations, and to bring justice to Darfur. Photo Credit: daedalus169

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

[In the News] President signs Anti-LRA Act

President Obama signed into law yesterday the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. The law commits the U.S. government to work with the multilateral campaign to bring the LRA to justice and to achieve a lasting peace in the region. In his signing statement, the President mentioned the role of the ICC:

“The Lord’s Resistance Army preys on civilians – killing, raping, and mutilating the people of central Africa; stealing and brutalizing their children; and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Its leadership, indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, has no agenda and no purpose other than its own survival…by any measure, its actions are an affront to human dignity.”

The president also praised the ongoing commitment from NGOs and others in civil society to mobilize American’s moral conscience in response to the crisis. Photo Credit: Human Rights First

Thursday, May 20, 2010

AMICC delegation in Kampala

The ICC's first Review Conference will be held in Kampala, Uganda, May 31 - June 11, 2010. The AMICC Team in Kampala will carefully monitor developments on stocktaking, amendments, the crime of aggression and more. Check back for updates here,  Facebook and Twitter to see what's happening in Kampala.
Photo Credit: Nations Online.

Take a Stand for Justice

AMICC invites you to join celebrations across the country for International Justice Day 2010 on July 17th. Check out our blog to learn how you and your community can join the movement for U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court.

Monday, May 17, 2010

[Looking Ahead] Sri Lanka and the ICC?

The International Crisis Group today released its study into the final months of the prolonged Sri Lankan Civil War that ended last May. The report used Rome Statute definitions to determine if any atrocity crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes – had been committed by either the Sri Lankan government or the Tamil Tigers organization. Ultimately, the report concludes that both sides had individuals who went beyond international law at times, and in doing so committed horrific crimes against civilian populations. Sri Lanka is a non-member of the ICC, and therefore the ICC does not possess jurisdiction absent a Security Council referral. Nevertheless, the goal of the wider ICC system is an end to impunity for those who commit the worst crimes, so it is entirely possible for this case or others like it to be subject to the ICC in the future. Check out the full story and report here. Photo credit: Welt Online.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Justice Richard Goldstone on the US and the ICC

US passes bill to combat LRA

Congress passed a historic bill yesterday committed to leading the international efforts to end the LRA's reign of terror over Uganda and surrounding areas. The legislation calls for the development of a strategy to fight the LRA by disarming and disbanding the militia, as well as apprehending those responsible. Top officials of the LRA, such as Joseph Kony, are wanted by the ICC, so this recent legislation can be seen as a sign of the US' increasing alignment with the goals of the Court. Whether this American call to action will result in the arrest of wanted individuals by the ICC remains to be seen, but this is a promising step towards cooperation between the US and the ICC. To read more about this story click here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

[In the News] Ocampo's Kenya visit comes to an end

ICC Prosecutor Ocampo ends his investigatory visit into Kenya's 2007-2008 post-election violence with a meeting with the current President, Mwai Kibaki. During his five days Ocampo spent time with many victims, particularly in the slums and countryside where the violence was concentrated. He has stated that he will pursue the worst perpetrators on both sides of the violent conflict, up to a total of six individuals, and hopes to present his cases against them to the Court late this year. This process will be aided by Kenya's vow to protect the victims and witnesses of the violence during a meeting Ocampo held with the Cabinet. To find out more about the ICC's decision to investigate the Kenya situation, check out our summary here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

[In the News] Critics argue that the ICC is anti-American

Last week we hosted a live-tweet commenting on the Heritage Foundation's ICC panel lecture, whose opinions against the ICC were strong (click here to follow us on Twitter). The Washington Times also tuned in and wrote an article entitled "ICC anti-Americanism is here to stay" outlining the anti-ICC arguments put forward by the panelists. You can find the full article here. Do you find their arguments convincing? Check out this article on our website that addresses arguments like those made by the Heritage Foundation, and attempts to refute them.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

[In the News] Ocampo set to visit Kenya to hear victims' stories

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo will be touching down in Kenya this Saturday for a five day visit. He expects to spend his time touring the scenes of the crimes committed during the 2008 post-election violence, and hearing the stories of its victims. It is hoped that this visit will allow him to gather evidence which may be used by the court to prosecute the individuals responsible, in order to prevent similar tragedies in the future. To read more about this story click here.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Two new reports on U.S. participation at Kampala: CFR and UCLA

This Council Special Report, authored by Vijay Padmanabhan, examines how the United States should advance its interests at the ICC’s 2010 review conference, scheduled for May and June in Kampala, Uganda. After outlining the history of U.S. policy toward the court, the report analyzes the principal items on the review conference agenda, most notably the debate over the crime of aggression. The conference faces the task of deciding whether to adopt a definition of aggression and, should it do so, whether and how to activate the court’s jurisdiction over this crime. Padmanabhan explains the important questions this debate raises.

The International Justice Clinic at UCLA School of Law is pleased to announce the release of The Road to Kampala: U.S. Participation in the Review Conference of the International Criminal Court. The Road to Kampala outlines key issues at stake in the upcoming ICC conference, the most significant diplomatic conference on international justice since the conclusion of the Rome Statute in 1998. The report makes substantive recommendations for the Obama Administration's participation in a conference that will touch on major issues, such as the crime of aggression, the Court's ability to enforce arrest warrants, State cooperation with the Court, and the interplay of national legal system with the Court's jurisdiction.