Second Plenary Meeting of the ASP17

Overview by Filipe Dias Costa and Juan Manuel Martinez Rojas, Research Associates PILPG NL

Highlights:

  • The EU gave a joint statement through Austria supporting the ongoing investigation in Myanmar/Bangladesh concerning the Rohingya and the situation in Syria.

  • The United Kingdom, France, and Australia called upon better resource management from the Court and possible reforms on the working structure to achieve more effectiveness.

  • Palestine indirectly denounced the U.S. approach towards the Court and determined the Prosecutor’s situation on Palestine as a test for the Court’s impartiality from external factors.

During the second plenary meeting of the 17thAssembly of States Parties on 5 December 2018, 26 States Parties to the Rome Statute issued their statements. A common aspect found in nearly all statements was the commendation of complementarity and cooperation as the cornerstones of the international criminal legal system. In parallel, most states also urged the Court’s role to combat impunity and ensure proper accountability for atrocities.  A shared critique found in the statement of the EU and in other European states was the necessity to enhance the role of victim participation and to ensure their proper reparation in future and ongoing cases. 

Palestine and Georgia reinforced their pleas on the ongoing work of the Office of the Prosecutor in their respective open situations. More energic, Palestine negatively noted the lapse of time since the beginning of the investigations and urged for future developments on the matter. 

Several statements, including from Austria, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and France called for further developments in the investigations concerning the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh and the situation in Syria and urged the Office of the Prosecutor to continue its work in these matters in order for them to be fledged out as concrete cases.

States Parties also urged for the need for an ongoing development of gender and geographical equality on the staff of the ICC as a mechanism to more adequately reflect the diversity of the States Parties and their different legal cultures. 

African states reinforced their utmost support of the ICC and its importance in their legal systems. In this sense, Gambia invited the ICC to conduct more activities in Africa inasmuch as Africa needs the ICC as the ICC needs Africa. Nigeria defended the inclusion of transnational corruption as a crime under the ICC’s jurisdiction insofar it may cause more death and destruction than the crimes already prescribed in the Statute. South Africa asked for more clarity with regard to the scope of UN Security Council referral resolutions.

The states reflected upon the developments that took place in the year of 2018 for the ICC by lamenting the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute and by remarking the achievement on the activation of the Court jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

Many states reiterated the importance of victim participation and reparation and lauded the work of the TFV. Germany announced to donate 300.000 EUR to the TFV, while the Czech Republic pledged to donate 20.000 EUR. Also Slovakia and Ireland stated that a donation to the TFV is coming. 

Several states praised the 2019 budget proposal due to its increased transparency.  Nonetheless, it was remarked that the standards used to achieve such results are still insufficient and a more thorough approach should be applied in future discussions. 

Regardless, the vast majority of the states commemorated the 20thanniversary of the Rome Statute and considered this landmark as an important development in combatting impunity, albeit calling for changes in the ICC in order to more efficiently fulfil its core role and values. Many states see the 20thanniversary of the Rome Statute as an opportunity to reflect upon achievements and challenges of the ICC.

Finally, the meeting was suspended after Ecuador’s statement due to time constraints and the general debate will continue during the 3rdplenary meeting on Thursday 6 December.