Overview by Eszter Boldis, Research Associate PILPG NL
States called for the adoption of the Kampala Amendments and an overall increase in cooperation with the Court (including compliance with arrest warrants and adoption of domestic statutes).
The Philippines confirmed their withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
Switzerland asked the extension of criminalization of forced starvation to NIACs as well.
During the 3rdplenary meeting of the 17thAssembly of States Parties on 6 December 2018 the general debate continued. Most states remarked that the 20thanniversary of the Rome Statute was a time for reflection on the growth of international criminal justice and the fight against impunity, but also a time to look at the ICC with a critical lens and see how the system can be further improved.
A heralded victory was the adoption of the resolution providing for the activation of jurisdiction of the Court over the crime of aggression at the last session of the ASP. Those countries that have ratified the Kampala amendments stated that they have done so, and urged others to follow in their footsteps. Other criticisms included the lack of effort on the part of some states in regard to complementarity and cooperation. Common suggestions to remedy these weaknesses were the adoption of domestic laws to give proper effect to the Rome Statute and compliance with the 15 outstanding arrest warrants, respectively.
Many countries also thanked ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, for her continued efforts and achievements and noted that in 2020, it will be time to elect a new prosecutor to take over her important work once she finishes her 9-year term in 2021. These countries called for transparency in the selection process to ensure the selection of the most suitable candidates
Notably, the Philippines confirmed its intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which had been announced in March 2018, and in light of the withdrawal, will not be attending deliberations during the present ASP. The withdrawal is due to concerns over the politization of human rights and the work of the Court and a belief that its domestic legislation can punish international crimes and its institutions can properly ensure justice.
Many states (including Uruguay and Slovenia) lauded the work done by the Trust Fund for Victims, noted their own contributions, and asked other states to contribute as well. Japan announced to contribute 52,000 EUR to the TFV.
All EU countries (Malta, Hungary, Slovenia, Greece, Malta, Estonia, Cyprus, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, and Portugal) speaking in the 3rdPlenary aligned themselves with the Austria’s statement on the behalf of the EU. Hungary, Greece, Poland, and Chile identified the important role of the Un Security Council in ensuring the proper functioning of the ICC and called for the financial, legal, and political support of the UNSC. Hungary specifically asked the UNSC to revisit the resolution for the referral of Syria and suggested that in the cases like Syria, where a resolution is aimed at stopping an ongoing conflict, vetoes should not be exercised. Switzerland proposed an amendment pertaining to the inclusion of forced starvation under war crimes in non-international armed conflicts, not just international armed conflicts.
The budget increase was a point of controversy. Some states objected to the increase and asked for the Court to improve its efficiency in order to make better use of funds. Other states defended the increase, stating that the budget is proportional to the Court’s activities and if the activities increase, there would also be an expected increase in the budget. However, even states that support the increase have identified the length of trials as a source of unnecessary expenditure and called for more speedy procedures. Canada, specifically, asked for the development of an exit strategy for closing preliminary examinations which would not lead to case.