Saturday, December 24, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #55

This week the ICC dismissed its first suspect from charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Pre-Trial judges found the prosecution had provided insignificant evidence to warrant a trial and ordered former Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana's release. Mbarushimana was arrested in France and extradited to the Court this past January. The Prosecutor appealed the decision, which was rejected earlier this week. Mbarushimana's release is currently being delayed due to a U.N. Travel Ban against him. Earlier this week the Office of the Prosecutor said it will review Libyan authorities' investigation of the death of Gaddafi to ensure that a genuine and effective investigation meeting international standards is taking place. The Prosecutor has decided to postpone a decision regarding launching its own investigation into the matter until next year. In other news, last week the ICC referred Kenya, Chad, Malawi and Djibouti to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest President Bashir of Sudan while visiting the states' territories.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tenth Session of ICC Assembly of States Parties Meeting in New York Concludes

The tenth session of the ICC's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), concluded yesterday with the adoption of the Court's budget for 2012 as well as the adoption of a major resolution dealing with the Court's work. This meeting, held at UN Headquarters in New York, was largely defined by changes in the leadership of the ASP as well as Court officials. The United States participated extensively in almost all of the formal sessions and side events, including co-sponsoring a side event on the protection of witnesses and making a very positive statement in the General Debate.

The AMICC delegation, as part of the broad representation and participation of NGOs at the ASP, attended all of the sessions and side events, including on such issues as complementarity, gender justice, cooperation and universality. Using our social media outlets, we provided extensive live-updates to our constituents on important developments. These included:
- The election of six judges who will take office in March 2012;
- The election of a new Chief Prosecutor who will take office in June 2012;
- The adoption of a program budget for the Court for 2012;
- The adoption of an omnibus resolution and other resolutions relevant to the work of the Court;
- The establishment of an Advisory Committee on nominations to assess future judicial candidates;
This annual session came at a critical time for the development of the Court. It dealt with many issues which will shape the future course of the ICC. It also put on display many of the challenges the Court faces as it moves toward its tenth anniversary and the completion of its first trials. The session provided the first opportunity for the ICC community to observe the ASP's new president, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann of Estonia in action as she presided over the meetings. She will be the first ASP President to serve the position full-time since her government has decided to support her to do that without any other responsibilities.

The session succeeded in agreeing by consensus on both an omnibus resolution on strengthening the Court, and the program budget for 2012 through prolonged, contentious and painful negotiations. The most important part of the omnibus resolution for our advocacy had to do with the independent oversight mechanism (IOM). The final section on this urged the bureau and the Court and a working group to speed up their work on the IOM so as to get a final decision at the 11th Assembly of States Parties and bring the IOM into operation as soon as possible. The question of the effect of the IOM on the independence of the prosecutor was resolved after a long wrangle only by reference to the provisions of the Rome Statute. The outcome on the budget showed that states parties at least now will not give the Court the full resources it would need to act on all the cases likely to be suitable for it. States parties, as stated by the ASP President in her closing remarks, seemed to want the Court to fill the resulting "impunity gap" by assisting countries to conduct their own trials of such cases. If this vision of the future Court is realized, the ICC will be substantially less attractive to the United States and its potential American supporters.
AMICC will issue an extensive report in January, to be published at, on these and other important developments at the ASP.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reflects from International Criminal Court Student Network (ICCSN) Delegates to ASP in New York

Erica Maylee (Junior Majoring in Political Science and International Relations)

December 12 – 21 marks the Tenth Session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) – the governing body of the International Criminal Court. As an American undergraduate student at Central Michigan University, and a member of the International Criminal Court Student Network (ICCSN), I attended part of the Tenth Session to continue my education on the Court, and witness first-hand another facet of the Court’s work, after several months spent blogging about the ASP on

On December 12 I attended the first day of ASP activities – which are being held at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC. This first day was moving because not only was I present at the United Nations – a place I have dreamt about and admired for many years as a young adult – but also because I was in the presence of some of the world’s most creative, brilliant, and powerful individuals. Individuals attending the ASP from NGOs and countries all around the world, are the movers and shakers of our day. Most share a common vision of a better, stronger International Criminal Court that will continue to grow and evolve as 2012 marks its ten-year anniversary. As an American, a citizen of a country not party to the Rome Statute, I really made an effort to listen and take in all the remarks made by speakers from other countries that belong to the Rome Statute system.  As a member of the ICCSN, I support the Court and wish the United States would ratify and implement the Rome Statute.

On day one of the Tenth Session the election of the ICC’s next chief prosecutor took place. Current chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, will finish his term in June of 2012, and his newly elected successor will be Fatou Bensouda of the Gambia. Her election by consensus was a beautiful moment to witness, and I was inspired by her strong presence. This election is not only an accomplishment and new chapter for the ICC, but it is also a tremendous step forward for Africa, and for women. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Bensouda mentioned starting her path to international law as an intern at a local court in Gambia.  Her start was the same as almost anyone’s -- if you can dream it, you can do it.

Lastly, I feel I should elaborate on the experience of the ASP’s Tenth Session from the perspective of an American student. As I mentioned earlier, the United States is not party to the Rome Statute (for a variety of reasons, including the difficulty in ratifying the document, which requires a 2/3 vote of approval from the Senate), but it is important for the world to know that the U.S. was definitely present at the Tenth Session. A United States’ delegation was there every day I attended – December 12 – 14. The United States also hosted a side event on the ICC and victims’ protection, which was well attended. Also important to note is the fact that several Americans were present at the ASP with NGOs or as individuals. Americans from the American Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC) and from IJCentral attended, as well as students from the ICCSN and American professors. It is important for people to know that even though America is not party to the Rome Statute, there are still concerned and engaged Americans with an interest in the Court and a strong desire to see the United States becoming a member.

Attending the Tenth Session of the ASP was a wonderful opportunity to witness the work of the international community of the ICC and also to network with others who support the Court. There is always substantive information that can be gathered, but for me, the most critical knowledge I received from this experience revolved around the people. It is my belief that through many people’s dreams, hard work, and revolutionary ideas, the ICC will continue to evolve and grow stronger after its first ten years. The Tenth Session of the ASP is just the start of a new chapter for the Court.

Jeffrey Lambert (Senior Majoring in Philosophy and Political Science)
I am an American, undergraduate student involved in the ICCSN, and had the privilege to study and engage with the Court and the network surrounding it for the past two semesters, including a study abroad class which focused almost exclusively on the Court.  While in the Netherlands, I was able to sit in on Court proceedings, get to know some people who work with the various organs of the Court, and learn a lot about where the Court is and where it needs to go.

Some of the of the more memorable moments of the 10th session of the ASP include witnessing Prosecutor-elect Fatou Bensouda, outgoing prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and outgoing ASP President Christian Wenaweser give their historic speeches.  So much has happened in the nine years since the Court became operational, and it was unforgettable to witness the “passing of the torch”. Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo sent a message that recognised how far we need to go to establish rule of law to protect people from violation of their human rights, citing a 20th century death toll of a hundred million people.  Fatou Bensouda gave an inspirational acceptance speech that, as a student, was more than educational. She said that she knew her life’s purpose was to be a champion for human rights, and that it all started when she herself was a student interning at a local court in Africa.  She was embodying the values of the ICC before the ICC was an actual institution.  Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo’s story is similar – he thought that prosecuting generals in Argentina was his crowning moment and the apex of his career, yet it proved to be training for the larger role as Prosecutor of the ICC.  It was almost magical to witness these human rights luminaries talk about their humble beginnings and how they had no idea that what they were doing would turn into their current roles at the ICC. 

I was also struck by the way in which was the U.S. delegates interacted with the court. It became clear that although the U.S. is not a member state, it nonetheless has an active role in influencing the Court. One clear example is provided by 'side-event' entitled “Witness Protection: Lessons Learned and Ways Ahead”, which the U.S. co-sponsored with Denmark and Uganda.  One of the biggest concerns the Court has right now is how to protect witnesses and victims that testify before the Court in a way that not only protects the witness and their family, but does so in a way that does not infringe upon defence rights. The United States - ably represented by U.S. Ambassador for war Crimes, Stephen Rapp -  was able to draw on past experience to help  the Court better protect witnesses in the future.   Rapp also stressed the importance of ‘relocation agreements’,  which enable both member and non-member states to assist the ICC in its protection of witnesses.

To conclude, it was reassuring to witness numerous U.S. citizens speak about how to strengthen the Court.  If you are curious to learn more about how Americans feel about the ICC, I encourage you to look at the public opinion polls available on the website of the American Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

Hope May (Professor of Philosophy at Central Michigan University/Attorney at Law, pictured below with Jeffrey Lambert)

I am attending the 10th session of the ASP as an American philosophy professor and lawyer, deeply committed to educating American undergraduates about the ICC.  Because I believe there is too much written, too much said, and much to be done, I mark my participation in this historic session by quoting the eloquent words of three eminent men: Judge Sang-Hyun Song, Aristotle and W.H. Murray.  While I heard Judge Song’s words first hand at an ASP side event, the remarks of Aristotle and Murray have come to me repeatedly during this session.

1) The biggest obstacle to universal ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute system is sheer lack of knowledge - specifically regarding the system of complementarity

-  ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song at the  ASP 10th session side-event "Plan of    Action: Universalization and implementing legislation,  developments and resources".

2) Where there are things to be done the end is not to survey and recognize the various things, but rather to do them
   -Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

3) The moment that one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too
   -W.H. Murray

Monday, December 19, 2011

Second Week of ICC Assembly of States Parties Opens with Negotiations on Budget for 2012 and Omnibus Resolution

With the conclusion last week of high-profile elections of a new Chief Prosecutor and six new judges, the ICC Assembly of States Parties (ASP) today began its second week with the election of six new members of the ASP's Committee on Budget and Finance. Most of the rest of the day was dedicated to negotiating the so-called omnibus resolution which is the ASP's annual action on a variety of issues, and to closed-door sessions to resolve the contentious budget issue. Considerable progress was made on the budget during a session that went late into the night on Saturday; the omnibus negotiations may go late tonight.

ICC Prosecutor Reports to UN Security Council on Darfur Investigation, New Arrest Request

By Lisa Vigna

On December 15, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, outgoing Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) gave his 14th Report to the UN Security Council. The crux of his address was self-evident: he said that Sudanese President al-Bashir’s “destiny” is clear: he will face justice for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Sudan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman strongly disputed Moreno-Ocampo’s allegations of war crimes against Sudanese officials, stressing that Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, and thus does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction. However, most striking to the meeting's observers was Osman's lengthy counterargument which berated the Prosecutor for categorizing Sudanese actions as genocide.

According to Moreno-Ocampo, several ambassadors stated that “Sudan should cooperate with the court because it’s not about being a member of the ICC, but about complying with Security Council resolutions.” The United States was among the governments which made statements after the session closed to NGO observers.

The Prosecutor requested the council address the refusals by Malawi and Chad, States Parties to the Rome Statute, to arrest al-Bashir during visits to their countries.

Osman said Moreno-Ocampo has ignored the Sudanese government’s efforts to promote peace in Darfur and “falsely” sought an arrest warrant for Sudan’s defense minister, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, who has been strongly engaged in negotiations “to prevent the peaceful efforts of the government to establish peace and security in Sudan.”

“The execution of the arrest warrants will end crimes in Darfur,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo said to the Security Council. “The individuals sought by the court are still allegedly committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The world knows where the fugitives are. They are in official positions, controlling the Government of the Sudan.”

A panel of judges will study evidence filed by Moreno-Ocampo before ultimately deciding whether to issue a warrant for Hussein’s arrest.

As the torch is passed to the Chief Prosecutor-elect Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer who served as Moreno-Ocampo's Deputy Prosecutor, the world will be watching in anticipation to see if Moreno-Ocampo's prophecy is fulfilled. Will al-Bashir face justice for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity?

Meanwhile, civilians in Darfur continue to be subject to the Janjaweed militiamen, “despite numerous injunctions by this Council,” said the prosecutor.

Yet Moreno-Ocampo stands firm. “The Security Council resolutions shall be implemented. Millions of civilians in Darfur shall be protected.”

His nine year term ends in June 2012 and it seems he will not go gently into retirement.

The Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC six years ago after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights where fighting has raged since 2003.

Friday, December 16, 2011

First Week of Assembly of States Parties Concludes With the Completion of Election of Six ICC Judges

ASP 10, 2011 at the UN. Photo via CICC

After a week fraught with delays, confusion and tedious rounds of balloting, on Friday evening the ASP was finally able to complete the election of six judges for the ICC:

CARMONA, Anthony Thomas AquinasTrinidad and Tobago
DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, MiriamPhilippines

EBOE-OSUJI, ChileNigeria
FREMR, Robert  Czech Republic
HERRERA CARBUCCIA, Olga Venecia Dominican Republic
MORRISON, Howard, United Kingdom

The ASP began its consideration of the omnibus resolution that will pass at the end of the session, as well as the adoption on the 2012 budget for the Court, both of which are controversial and will require considerable negotiation among states. AMICC will continues to report on these developments next Monday-Wednesday from our blog and on Twitter @USfortheICC. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fourth Judge (Finally) Elected by ICC States Parties; Two More Vacancies to Fill

After several unusual rounds of voting this afternoon, the ICC Assembly of States Parties filled the fourth of six judicial vacancies for which it is holding elections during its tenth session. Following the withdrawal of the Mexican and Costa Rican candidates after the 9th and 10th rounds, respectively, the ASP elected Ogla Herrera Carbuccia of the Dominican Republic in the 12th round of voting. She fell short by two votes in the 11th round. She joins Anthony Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago, Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the Philippines and Robert Fremr of the Czech Republic in being elected to be a judge of the ICC for a non-renewable term of five years.

There are two more judges to be elected, with four candidates remaining in the race: two Europeans and two Africans. The 13th ballot will be held tomorrow afternoon.

Unusual Episode on the Third Day of Judicial Elections at ICC Assembly of States Parties

The ninth and tenth rounds of voting in the International Criminal Court judicial elections here at UN Headquarters today took an interesting turn. The ninth round was delayed because France objected to holding consultations on the omnibus resolution in the same room while the ballots were being counted between rounds. With six candidates remaining after the withdrawal of the Mexican candidate, States Parties to failed to elect any additional judges after electing three judges on Monday.

The Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), which is seeking to claim one of the three remaining seats, asked for a break in order to conduct regional consultations, presumably to designate one of the two GRULAC candidates as the favored regional candidate. There then appeared to be a miscommunication between the group and the president of the ASP chairing the meeting: a number of GRULAC delegations asked for more time to consult after the ballots had been distributed, claiming that they had made a request for more time. Under Rule 68 of the Rules of the ASP, delegations may not interrupt a vote once it has started unless there is a point of order on the conduct of the election:

Rule 68
Conduct during voting

After the President has announced the commencement of voting, no representative of a State Party may interrupt the voting, except that representatives of States Parties may interrupt on a point of order in connection with the actual conduct of the voting.

Delegations disagreed about whether the starting of the vote was "in connection with the actual conduct of the voting." There was a three minute break, which went much longer, during which the ballots remained on the desks and there was significant confusion. In the end, several delegations were very concerned about the integrity of this ballot and asked that it be canceled. The president permitted the consultations to continue, which in the end produced no withdrawals, after which a "second" tenth round of voting was held.

No candidates were elected in the tenth round.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

US Ambassador Rapp Touts American Cooperation with ICC at ASP in New York

At a side event at the tenth session of the ICC's governing body, US Ambaasador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp described extensive US efforts to ensure justice for victims by ensuring protection for witnesses. According to Rapp, it is not possible to achieve justice without adequate protection of individual witnesses who are willing to testify in the prosecution and defense of cases. He noted that even though the US is not a State Party to the ICC, it is looking for ways to help the Court, including with the protection and relocation of witnesses. He reported that through cooperation with Court, the US is involved in all of the situations now under investigation.

The US is expected to make a statement this afternoon during the ASP general debate, a copy of which will be on the CICC website and the ASP website:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #54

This week there has been a great deal of ICC activity. As we reported earlier, the annual Assembly of States Parties meeting is currently ongoing in New York. At the meeting the ASP formally elected Gamibian Fatou Bensouda as the ICC's next Prosecutor. Her candidacy was widely supported, including by the African Union. On Tuesday the future Prosecutor pledged to increase efforts to enforce justice against perpetrators of sex and gender crimes. On Monday a representative for the Court said it was referring Malawi's non-compliance with the ICC to the United Nations Security Council, after the country refused to arrest President Bashir when he visited in October. What the Security Council will do about the matter remains to be seen. In the wake of the ICC's arrest of former President Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, protestors have gathered outside the Court demanding his release. This ICC has not issued a statement on the matter. Earlier we reported that the Kenya high court issued a ruling ordering the government to arrest Bashir if he returns to Kenya. The ruling prompted an ultimatum from President Bashir, as well as criticism from Kenyan government officials. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called upon Kenya's government officials to respect the new-found independence of the judiciary and to resist urges to overturn the decision due to political pressures. In other news, last week Vanuata became the 120th state to join the Rome Statute and become state party to the International Criminal Court. The statute will enter into force for the nation on February 1, 2012. Photo Credits: BBC News and Reuters.

ICC Assembly of States Parties Elect One More Judge in Second Day of Elections

After four more rounds of voting the ICC Assembly of States Parties elected only one more candidate, leaving nine candidates vying for three judicial vacancies. Robert Fremr of the Czech Republic will join Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Anthony Carmona as ICC judges in March 2012.

Voting will resume at 3pm tomorrow with the sixth round of voting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Initial Results of Elections at Assembly of States Parties: Prosecutor and Two Judges Elected

The ICC Assembly of States Parties today elected Fatou Bensouda of the Gambia to be the next Chief Prosecutor, taking office in June 2012, as well as two of the 18 judicial candidates: Meriam Defensor-Santiago of the Philippines and Anthony Carmona of Trinidad and Tobago. The judicial elections will resume tomorrow morning at 10am to fill the remaining four judicial vacancies.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Follow AMICC's coverage of the Tenth Session of the ICC Assembly of States Parties (ASP) from UN Headquarters in New York, December 12-21

The AMICC Secretariat, along with representatives of several AMICC members, will be participating in the upcoming Tenth Session of the ICC's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP). The meeting will be held at UN Headquarters in New York, December 12-21.

Among the agenda items at the session will be the election of a new Chief Prosecutor, six new judges, the approval of the ICC's budget for 2012 and other issues relevant to the governance and proceedings of the ICC.

For complete reporting on all eight days of the ASP session, please follow or friend AMICC on our:

- Blog

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo Appears Before ICC Judges; Hearing to Confirm Charges Set for June 18

Laurent Gbagbo, former president of Cote d'Ivoire, at his initial
appearance on December 5 at the ICC in The Hague. ICC photo.

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo appeared before ICC judges today in order to confirm his identity and to advise him of his rights. He is suspected on committing crimes against humanity in the aftermath of a disputed election last year. Gbagbo's lawyers indicated that he would content the Prosecutor's evidence. The judges scheduled a confirmation of charges hearing for June 18, 2012 to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Friday, December 02, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #53

This week the ICC issued an arrest warrant for former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity committed after he lost last year's election and refused to cede power. The violence reportedly led to more than 3,000 deaths. Soon after the warrant was issued Gbagbo was transferred to the ICC, the first head of state to be taken into the Court's custody. The ICC Prosecutor made a statement saying that Gbagbo is the first to be arrested by the ICC, but that the ICC is investigating others involved and "there are more to come." Gbagbo has not yet made a pleading before the ICC, but has denied responsibility for the violence.
Last week the Kenya high court decided that Kenya, as a member state to the ICC, is under a duty to arrest President Bashir of Sudan if he ever enters Kenya again. Reportedly Bashir has given an ultimatum to Kenya, telling them to overturn the judgment within the next two weeks. Government representatives have reportedly said that this is not an option because the judiciary is independent under the Constitution. Last week the Prosecutor began a preliminary investigation into sex crimes potentially committed in Libya by Gaddafi's troops. The Prosecutor has stated there is evidence of a government "official rape policy" including the distribution of Viagra-type drugs to soldiers. Last week the Assembly of States Parties met to discuss the identity of the ICC's next Prosecutor. At the meeting it was agreed that current ICC Deputy Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of Gambia should succeed Ocampo. She is to be formally elected by the Assembly on December 12, 2011. Last week the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasized the urgency for a Security Council resolution referring the situation in Syria to the ICC. The Council has passed a resolution condemning the "gross and systematic violations of human rights" in the country, but has not referred the situation to the Hague. Photo credit: Reuters & Reuters.

ICC Presents Case Against a New Darfur Suspect, Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Hussein

On December 2, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced the opening of a new case in the Darfur situation, the Court's fourth, seeking a warrant of arrest for Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, the Minister of Defense for the Government of Sudan. The arrest warrant application alleges war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between August 2003 and March 2004. According to the ICC Prosecutor, “The evidence shows that this was a state policy supervised by Mr. Hussein to ensure the coordination of attacks against civilians.” Mr. Hussein served as the Minister of the Interior during the period of the alleged crimes during which he delegated authority to Ahmed Harun, one of the other suspects wanted by the ICC for some of the same atrocities.