FIDH Statement for the 20th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Statute

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On 8 December, Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH Vice-President and Director of OPEN ASIA | Armanshahr, delivers FIDH’s statement during the general debate of #ASP20. See video recording and read full text (extended version) hereafter.


It is my great pleasure to address the 20th Assembly of States Parties as the Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). We are an organisation that federates 192 NGOs from 117 countries, including OPEN ASIA - Armanshahr, an organisation working in Afghanistan to which I am the Executive Director.

I am a feminist, and over the past 29 years I have been working in Central Asia and notably for Afghanistan, a country where permanent violence takes a massive toll on its population. My team, and other Afghan organisations, have been conducting documentation of international crimes and other work related to the mandate of the ICC for the last 16 years, reaching out to victims, in particular girls and women, often times at great risk. Last year, a colleague was killed one day after a meeting in our offices. This August, after the withdrawal of the US troops, my organisation OPEN ASIA - Armanshahr had to evacuate our staff, many of them still remain in the country at great risk. We have not only lost the capacity of people who have been working to strengthen accountability for international crimes. We also had to destroy documents and materials we have worked on for years. It is not an understatement to say that we have lost the work of a lifetime. During this, the ICC has remained largely, absent.

We welcome the OTP’s recent opening of the investigation in Afghanistan, but we are deeply concerned that the Prosecutor narrowed the investigation to exclude some alleged perpetrators, who will now not face justice. In the words of the Pre-Trial Chamber in its recent decision relating to victims’ rights: “…a proper investigation should focus first on crimes, and then on identifying who the responsible persons of those crimes are.”

Accountability for international crimes in Afghanistan is far from being achieved. There has been a failure to properly gather and preserve evidence that could potentially be used in the future to bring perpetrators to account. More must be done, and we can no longer just watch from the side-lines as crucial evidence is being destroyed. We call on States Parties to effectively cooperate with the Court and press for modern technological solutions so we can protect and preserve critical information before it’s too late.

FIDH is also concerned about the Court’s limited financial resources. Without a budget that follows a needs-based approach and a sufficient cash flow, the Court simply cannot fulfil its mandate nor function. You will not be surprised if I tell you that clearly the Court requires more funds for proper investigations and prosecutions, for outreach to survivors, victims and affected communities, and to conduct better, more localised, public information campaigns. Survivors, victims, and affected communities are at the heart of the Court’s work, and we will only honour the spirit of the Rome Statute when we provide them with adequate and timely information about matters that affect their rights.

Civil society organisations play a crucial role in helping the Court engage with affected communities. In situations like Afghanistan, but in many others where the risks for human rights defenders are high, it is more important than ever that there is a dialogue between all stakeholders. I encourage the ASP to press for a greater dialogue between all stakeholders, including in addressing the findings and implementing the recommendations of the Independent Expert Review, a dialogue that goes beyond mere formalities, and involves genuine and meaningful consultations that take into account the realities of situation countries. As a matter of urgency, we need to take a united stand, and come together to deliver the justice that victims deserve.

Thank you.

Guissou Jahangiri
FIDH Vice President
Director of OPEN ASIA/Armanshahr

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