By Jill Baehring and Kassahun Molla, Research Associates PILPG-NL
Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein emphasized the importance of the African States for the ICC and called them “the backbone” of the Court.
The Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced preliminary investigations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia and other situations.
For the first time, the Board of Directors of The Trust Fund for Victims reported to the ASP. The statement mentioned the consideration of former child soldiers as victims in the Trust Fund. The Board of Directors also urged the States Parties to contribute to the Trust Fund in order to secure its funding.
The 1st Plenary Session was initiated by the President of the ASP, H.E. Mr. Sidiki Kaba with a statement which expressed the hope to increase peace and justice on a global level. After a minute of meditation, the Presidency continued to explain the agenda, which was subsequently adopted without amendments. The Presidency then announced the resignation of the Vice President of the ASP, Ambassador Álvaro Moerzinger (Uruguay). Ambassador Sergio Ugalde (Costa Rica) was elected as his successor.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein emphasized the importance of the African States for the ICC and called them “the backbone” of the Court. He nevertheless criticized the recent announcements of South Africa, Gambia and Burundi to withdraw from the Rome Statute. He assessed that to walk away from the court is a betrayal of the victims, and that states parties should defend the court, as universal accession is a necessity. The Commissioner also emphasized his office’s unconditional support to the Court and called for the states parties to do the same.
The Presidency of the ASP then welcomed the President of the ICC, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, and the Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Presidency also emphasized their full support for the work of the Court’s President and Prosecutor. In her speech, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi reviewed the work of the Court for the year 2016 and provided an outlook to the near future, mentioning pending victim’s reparation, trials and investigations. She especially highlighted the Court’s efforts to cooperate with victims and to improve their legal representation as well as the consideration of victim’s claims before the Court. The Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, emphasized the commitment of the Court to end impunity, the importance of states’ participation, and disappointment concerning the recent states withdrawals. Bensouda also highlighted the major achievements of the court and announced decisions on the preliminary investigations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia and other situations.
For the first time, the Board of Directors of The Trust Fund for Victims reported to the ASP. It highlighted the key activities accomplished in the reporting period and emphasized that the Board’s mandate got a volume and substance in this year. It was announced that the Trust Fund has been able to allocate 2 million Euro for victims in Uganda and 4 million Euro for victims in the Eastern Part of Kongo. The statement mentioned the consideration of former child soldiers as victims in the Trust Fund. The Board of Directors also urged the States Parties to contribute to the Trust Fund in order to secure its funding.
In the report on the activities of the Bureau, the establishment of the independent oversight mechanisms as requested during the 12th ASP was announced. Regarding South Africa’s request on establishment of a working group on the implementation of Art. 97, it was announced that the Bureau had decided to establish a working group, which is led by the Ambassador of Chile. The working group has made a recommendation which foresees a continuation of the discussion on the matter. While expressing disappointment regarding the decisions of South Africa, Kenya, and Burundi, the Bureau also emphasised the importance to strengthen national jurisdiction.
During the subsequent Agenda Item 13, the six members of the Committee on Budget and Finance have been selected.