Overview by Emma Bakkum and David Lando, Research Associates PILPG-NL
The Registrar noted that further cuts to the budget “will affect the ability of the Court to conduct its investigations.”
The Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice’s representative noted that the new budget and ReVision program fails to give enough emphasis to gender equality and geographic distribution of staff members. This was answered by the Registrar that the ReVision program does not deal with these issues. Uganda, in turn, noted that the response by the Registrar was “insensitive” and that the underrepresentation of African nationals in senior staff level will not “be taken laying down.”
Herman Von Hebel, the Court’s Registrar, pinpointed four strategic priorities that the 2016 budget supported: (1) supporting three trial proceedings; (2) Conducting and supporting six investigations; (3) increase Registry vacancy rate; (4) investment in court-wide information security measures.
The Registrar then presented the 2017 proposed budget to be approved by the Assembly of States Members. While the proposed budget includes an increased budget of the Registry (about nine percent) and the Office of the Prosecutor (about seven percent), the Registrar claimed it to be the “result of a great number of internal cuts”. One such internal cut is the decrease of the premises budget by almost fifty percent. He urged not to impose greater cuts on the 2017 budget. He reminded the “States Parties [about] the consequences of further reductions on the Court’s budget; this will affect the ability of the Court to conduct its investigations.”
Finally, Mr. Von Hebel noted that “we are witnessing challenging times. Including intensifying security challenges and global economic challenges.” Due to these challenges “the role of the ICC is more important than ever, [it] is one of the pillars of international stability… The ICC is an investment in a more stable world for tomorrow.”
Ms. Maria Fernandez Opazo, the Chair of the Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF) spoke after Mr. Von Hebel. She reminded the States Parties of the importance of “timely contributions” to the budget; otherwise the Court’s ability to function will be jeopardized.
States Parties (France, UK, Spain, Canada, and Kenya) responded to the report about the budget of 2016 and the proposed budget of 2017. All States required an elaboration of the ReVision program that sought to restructure the Registry and decrease expenditure. UK raised the point that “the end of ReVision is only the end of the beginning”, meaning there is need to continue to process of restructure and improve efficiency.
The Registrar concurred with UK’s view. He indicated that ReVision is a process, and that it “is a never-ending exercise”. Some States also raised the importance of geographical distribution of Court staff. To this the Registrar responded that “ReVision was not about geographical distribution.” However, “in the new structure of the HR department we are about to launch more activities to deal with the top five countries that are underrepresented: Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Brazil.” The external auditor agreed with the Registrar that geographical distribution “was not a part of the Audit’s report”.
The debate moved away from the technical sphere when Brigit Inder, the Executive Director of Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice, took the stage. She argued that the proposed budget does not manifest gender equality, and that there are “less women [employees] at the end of the ReVision at the P5 level than before the restructuring,” and there are no women at the P1 level. About geographical distribution Ms. Inder argued that there are “fewer nationals from African States in senior leading positions at the end of the ReVision period.” She concluded that “we are puzzled and concerned about the ongoing ignorance.”
The Registrar responded that the “ReVision was not meant to deal with these issues. But we do address these issues as much as possible.” Uganda, in response, asserted that “the Registrar’s response is insensitive. We would like to see real figures and recruitment of Africans in the real places of management, especially in witness and victim protection. This is not fair, and we shall not keep quiet. We will not take this laying down.” The Registrar did not respond to these comments.