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.

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