Overview by Lea Schwagereit, Research Associate PILPG NL
States Parties agree on the importance of enhancing cooperation between the Court and States Parties and between the Court and the UN Security Council.
Cooperation can be increased in the form of sharing information to ensure the prosecution of issued arrest warrants.
Additionally, voluntary agreements can complement the obligation of cooperation with the Court under the Rome Statute.
Slovenia signed the cooperation agreement on the enforcement of sentences.
The 5thplenary meeting titled “20 years after Rome: back to the major challenges of cooperation”, stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation between State Parties and the ICC as well as the cooperation between the ICC and the UN Security Council.
The meeting was divided into three segments. The first segment focused on the financial investigations and the freezing and recovery of assets in relation to arrest warrants. Ms. Aurélia Devos, Deputy Prosecutor and Chief of Section at the Unit for Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes at the Paris public prosecutor’s office stressed the importance of cooperation between States Parties and the ICC in order to implement the commitments made under the Rome Statute. She further emphasized that the sharing of national expertise and signing of voluntary agreements enhances cooperation. “Cooperation is vital to fight crimes against humanity”, therefore the State Parties need to focus on legal units and their cooperation. Furthermore, “Cooperation is the future of Complementarity”, according to Ms. Devos.
Following this, the plenary meeting considered the seminars held in October 2017 (Paris) on cooperation for financial investigations and in November 2018 (The Hague) on arrests. States Parties often referred to these seminars as the groundwork for the future of cooperation of States Parties with the ICC and the cooperation of the ICC and the UN Security Council.
The second segment focused on arrests and often referred to seminar held in The Hague in November 2018. ICC Prosecutor Bensouda opened this segment underlining the importance of cooperation with the ICC. “Cooperation is key to the vitality of the Rome Statute of Criminal Justice”, she stated. The Court relies on the sharing of information and the enhancement of cooperation and encourages an open dialogue. She further emphasized on two key efforts of the ICC: financial investigations and arrests. The identification of financial assets are important for later stages, e.g. for compensation of victims. Bensouda stated: “We cannot arrest in absence. Only once the arrest warrant is prosecuted a fair trial is possible.” A high level of political commitment, of all relevant actors, consistent, and concrete cooperation is required for the court to act effectively. “Arrest and surrender of ICC suspects is important for the ICC. We must break the voice of silence with the voice of justice”.
Next, the Criminal Intelligence Officer and Sub-Director of Investigative Support for fugitives at INTERPOL, Mr. Sylvain Leprivery addressed the assembly. His statement focused on the role of INTERPOL. INTERPOL has signed a cooperation agreement with the ICC, enhancing the sharing of information through the access to 17 data bases on the arrest of suspects.
Peter Lewis, Registrar of the ICC, and Charles Taku, President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA), underlined the importance of cooperation for the efficiency of the Court, referring to cooperation for arrest warrants and timely information sharing with the Court.
Many states, including the United Kingdom, Chile, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, the Cech Republic, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Belgium, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Palestine, Uganda and Uruguay, echoed this and encouraged the enhancement of cooperation between the ICC, states parties, and the UNSC. Austria, on behalf of the EU, welcomed the debate, reassured its full support and cooperation with the ICC, and emphasized support for voluntary agreements to accompany the obligations under the Rome Statute. Agreements with this statement came from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Belgium, with special emphasis on (one single) superior authority to execute sanctions and collect evidence.
Several states highlighted the importance of enforcing arrest warrants. Chile announced that it is working on a draft law to enhance cooperation of Chile and the ICC. The UK further highlighted the importance of sharing (financial) information. Spain announced its support for the Mutual Legal Assistance initiative and Japan stressed the importance of capacity building by State Parties to be included in the national legal framework. Emphasize was added here on the financial resources. In that matter, El Salvador pointed to the lack of necessary legislation in its country. Brazil pointed to their cooperation with regard to arrest warrants by allowing UN peacekeeping into Brazil to execute arrest warrants. Palestine stressed the importance of the cooperation with INTERPOL.
The third and final segment focused on voluntary cooperation agreements. Mr. Lewis characterized voluntary agreements as flexible, cooperative in nature (with the spirit of learning from each other), and confidentiality. The office of Legal advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Mr. Martín Mainero reported of his country’s positive experiences with cooperation agreements, stressing that Argentina is an example for cooperation agreements in the developing world. The State Parties had a chance again to wave in. The representative of Mali supported the court and committed to fully cooperate with the court. Ecuador shared the same experience.
The fifth plenary meeting concluded with the signing of a cooperation agreement on the enforcement of sentences, between the State Secretary of the Ministry of Law of Slovenia, H. E. Ms. Dominika Švarc Pipan and the ICC, represented by the ICC First Vice-President Judge Robert Fremr.