Cutting the Weakest Link: Budget Discussions and their Impact on Victims Rights to Participate in Proceedings before the ICC

On the eve of the opening of the 11th Session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), FIDH is publishing its position paper putting forward specific recommendations to the ASP related in particular to the implementation of victims’rights.

The discussions towards the 11th Assembly of State Parties (ASP) have been driven by budgetary concerns, triggered by the difficult financial environment suffered by its major contributors. The ICC has the challenge to grow in the midst of a financial crisis. FIDH is well aware of that, and is supportive of the adoption of “efficiencies” in the Court, as long as they do not transform the institution from an instrument of justice -particularly for victims- into one of “expediency”.

The Court has already presented an extremely lean budget for 2013. However, the Assembly of States Parties, during its 10th session, requested the Court, in preparing its budget, to identify possible reductions to bring it to the level of the 2012 approved budget. The Court did so in a paper of 12 September 2012. However it warned that: “The Court believes that the activities affected by the identified reduction measures and their corresponding resources are of high importance and part of the mandatory activities within the Court´s legal framework”.

Financial concerns should not limit the Court to act in relation to situations or crimes that fall under its jurisdiction. To the contrary, the Court should be provided with enough funding to comply with the Rome Statute, independently.

When adopting the Rome Statute, States introduced, for the first time in international criminal justice, the possibility for victims to actively and independently participate in the proceedings.

FIDH is however concerned that some of the budget lines affected by cuts or the zero growth principle are related to programs that actually benefit the victims’ participation. Victims should not bear a disproportionate burden in the financial difficulties of the Court.

The discussions on the legal aid system present particular concerns and challenges since it is key to ensure meaningful participation for victims.

We present to the Assembly of States Parties our views and recommendations in relation to some of these issues affecting victims´ participation in the proceedings.

In the midst of the discussions in relation to budgetary cuts, FIDH respectfully submits the need to base the discussions on these issues on the principles underlying victims´ participation, according to the legal texts and the jurisprudence of the Court.

FIDH position paper to the ASP 11 - Cutting the Weakest Link: Budget Discussions and their Impact on Victims Rights to Participate in Proceedings, November 2012 [En]

Table of content
- Introduction
- I. - The Right of Victims to Participate in the Proceedings: Established Principles
- II. - Challenges for Victims Participation
- Conclusions and Recommendations

Read more