Electing the Next ICC Prosecutor: States Should Respect Process They Established

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Ahead of the December 2020 election of the next Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the third in the Court’s history – FIDH and 30 other organisations urge States Parties to the ICC Statute to uphold their commitment to the existing transparent, free, and merit-based process in selecting the person who will lead the Office of the Prosecutor to examine and prosecute some of the world’s most serious atrocities. Our organisations discourage countries from nominating new candidates that were not shortlisted by the Committee for the Election of the Prosecutor.

Learn more about the election process here.

We call on ICC States Parties to stand by their commitment to a process for election of the next prosecutor that is transparent, merit-based, and free from political interference. In early 2019, after extensive debate, States Parties agreed to set up a Committee for the Election of the Prosecutor (“Committee”), authorized to identify the most qualified candidates for the position. In addition, States Parties appointed an independent expert panel (“Panel”) to assist the Committee in carrying out its mandate. According to the Terms of Reference adopted by the Assembly of States Parties’ (“Assembly”) Bureau, the process was carefully designed to yield a prosecutor selection and election process that is “structured and transparent.”

On June 30, 2020, the Committee issued its final report, including a shortlist of four candidates that it deemed most qualified. The report describes both the rigorous process undertaken by the Committee and Panel and the criteria considered to evaluate candidates. It also includes a detailed assessment of the shortlisted candidates, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each. Significantly, the Committee took the unprecedented step of conducting a reference check and security screening for all of the longlisted candidates. While those steps fell short of a full vetting process, we applaud the Committee’s initiative and endorse its recommendation to include a vetting provision for all future elections.

As States Parties now embark on consultations “to identify, through open and transparent consultations, a consensus candidate,” our organizations call on them to ensure the continued integrity of the election by engaging genuinely with the agreed process and with the Committee’s shortlisted candidates. We discourage nominating candidates outside of the shortlist, because candidates either, if they have previously applied, will have failed to meet the Committee’s standards or, if not, will avoid the same independent, reasoned scrutiny from the Committee.

In order for the next prosecutor to be truly qualified, they should possess the requisite legal, technical, leadership, and management skills, and their integrity and commitment to the court’s mandate should also be unimpeachable. The evaluation of applications, interviews with candidates, reference checks and security screening represent progress in ensuring a principled process.

States parties should respect the Committee’s independence and stand by the process they established to ensure the election of the most qualified individual. Failing to do so could lead to the election of a prosecutor who is unable to provide the leadership, skills and integrity that the ICC so urgently needs.

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  • Co-signatories

    Africa Legal Aid
    African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
    Africa Center for International Law and Accountability
    Acting Together: Law, Advice, Support (ATLAS)
    Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (Acat-Burundi)
    Center for Constitutional Rights
    Coalition Guinéenne pour la cour pénale internationale
    Coalition Ivoirienne pour la cour pénale internationale
    Coalition Malienne pour la cour pénale internationale
    Coalition Nationale pour la cour pénale internationale de la République Démocratique du Congo
    Coalition Tchadienne pour la Cour pénale internationale
    Comisión Colombiana de Juristas
    Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos
    Corporación Humanas
    FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
    Human and Environmental Development Agenda
    Human Rights Watch
    Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa
    Institute for Security Studies
    International Center for Transitional Justice
    International Commission of Jurists – Kenyan Section
    Justice Access Point - Uganda
    Justice International
    Nigerian Coalition for the ICC
    Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme (RADDHO)
    Réseau Equitas Côte d’Ivoire
    Observatoire ivoirien des droits de l’homme
    Open Society Justice Initiative
    Women Advocate Research & Documentation Centre
    Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice

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