Overview by Abby Roberts, Research Associate PILGP NL
The ICC budget for 2019 of €144 million was adopted (€150.000 less than the independent expert body advised) in Resolution ICC-ASP/17/Res.4.
There was a division in opinion within the assembly as to whether the budget should have zero growth or needs-based growth.
Despite disagreements on the budget and omnibus resolution, a consensus was reached on both.
The Assembly requested the Secretariat to present options for scheduling the next ASP session and requested the Bureau to decide on the date and venue for the 18thASP by 13 January 2019.
At the thirteenth and final plenary meeting of the 17thAssembly of States Parties, States Parties came together for the adoption of the last resolutions and reports. States Parties considered the ICC’s proposed budget for 2019 of €147.55 million and the recommendation of the Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF) to approve a budget of €144.70 million. After extensive negotiations of the Working Group on budget, States Parties considered and approved, by consensus, a budget of €144.55 million for 2019, which is an increase of 0.49 per cent from 2018 (less than the 0.6 per cent recommended by the CBF and 2.6 per cent requested by the Court).
After adoption, states were given the possibility to explain their position. Belgium, also speaking for Argentina, Belgium, Costa Rica, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland, expressed disappointment with regard to the budget, as they had hoped for a more suitable budget closely aligned with the needs of the Court. They expressed the opinion that the negotiations did not allow them to reach a common agreement to find a budget that would allow the Court to fully implement its mandate. The budget is lower than advocated by the mandated CBF and the increase does not correlate adequately with the inflation rate and therefore Belgium believed the court has been underfunded. Given the fragile position of the Court, Belgium believed this situation needs to be addressed. Warnings have been issued regarding the vulnerable cash flow reserves and more responsible management is a must. Belgium ended by emphasizing that it is up to the States Parties, who had a shared vision 20 years ago, to ensure the Court has sufficient resources to meet the growing demands of justice.
Brazil followed and expressed their deep regret that another budget resolution was adopted with nominal growth. However, they decided not to block consensus for this budget. Brazil stated that the percentage seems small but they believed the ever-increasing budget is unsustainable and incompatible with the budgetary realities of States Parties and moreover discourages states from ratifying the Rome Statute.
Japan spoke next and noted that, 20 years since the adoption of the Rome Statute, the ICC has to mature and enter a phase of stable development. Japan believed that although the budget has continually increased, more room can be found for optimizing resources. They urged the Court to exercise strict budgetary discipline. Japan joined the consensus and urged all organs of the Court to demonstrate efficiency, as the credibility of the Court depends on its capacity and the efficient implementation of the budget.
Venezuela then took the floor and expressed its support for the zero growth approach and while this budget goes against that approach, it did not block the adoption of the budget in the spirit of consensus and so as to work constructively forward. They urged the ASP to keep working towards reducing the Court’s budget but also noted that this exercise must be achieved without sacrificing efficiency and transparency.
The Assembly then took action on the proposed program budget for 2019 read in conjunction with the recommendation of the Working Group on the budget. This was adopted by consensus.
The Assembly then took action on the Omnibus Resolution, “Strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of States Parties”. This resolution was also adopted by consensus. Brazil then took the floor to express its position. Brazil stated that it joined the consensus despite being deeply frustrated by the disability to come to a decision on equitable geographic representation within the Bureau. Brazil explained that although they brought forward a significantly supported and relevant paragraph, they were not able to reach consensus. However, the merits of in-depth discussion were echoed by other States Parties and Brazil will continue to raise this subject at the next meetings.
Continuing, the Chair of the Credentials Committee, Mr. Lester Antonio Ortega Lemus (Guatemala) presented the Report of the Credentials Committee, which was then adopted.
The rapporteur then presented the draft report of the Assembly of States Parties, including all issues discussed during the 17thsession of the ASP. The rapporteur suggested that the Secretariat compile a list of adopted resolutions and attach appendices which will contain relevant reports, declarations, and statements with an attached list of documents. The report was adopted as a whole and the edited report will be distributed. With regard to the next assembly of states parties, the Secretariat was requested to present options for scheduling the next ASP session and Bureau was requested to decide on the date and venue for the 18thASP by 13 January 2019.
The President of the ICC, Chile Eboe-Osuji, in his final speech commended this session on being the most genial yet, despite not always reaching what they wanted. He believed in the coming years, the efforts of diplomacy will be utilized to ensure universal ratification of the Rome Statute.
The President of the Assembly of States Parties, Mr. O-Gon Kwon then spoke on the upcoming election of next prosecutor and said the collaborative process has already begun and that the election will occur at the 19th session in 2020. He acknowledged the former Vice President from Costa Rica was ending his tenure as ambassador in the Netherlands and Bill Pace was stepping down as Convenor of the CICC. He thanked delegates for their flexibility during the last few days which allowed for the resolution of numerous issues. He trusted that this will allow for the further implementation of the mandate of the Rome Statute. He noted that it is an important time for the Court as it is the 20th anniversary and the Court is facing numerous challenges. He thanked States Parties, civil society, Observer States, and the Court for their cooperation and closed the 17thAssembly of States Parties.