FIDH statement to the 21st session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court

16/12/2022
Statement
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FIDH

16 December 2022. Paul Nsapu Mukulu, FIDH Honorary Vice President and President of the Ligue des Électeurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke on the second day of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, on 6 December 2022. He presented six FIDH recommendations and insisted on the crucial aspect of victims’ participation in the Court’s proceedings. The statement is available in English (below), French and Spanish.

Excellences,

It gives me great pleasure to address the 21st Assembly of States Parties on behalf of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). We are an organisation that brings together 188 NGOs from over 110 countries, including the Ligue des Électeurs, of which I am honorary chair, and which works in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Having carried out clandestine activities under the regime of General Mobutu, I was able to co-found the Ligue des Électeurs in 1990, and since then we have been active in the promotion of human rights and the defense of victims of injustice. The investigation into international crimes committed in eastern DRC, opened in 2004, was the first investigation conducted by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor. The Court has played a key role in the fight against impunity in the DRC, with the three convictions in the cases against Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga and Bosco Ntaganda, and we have continued to follow developments since.

The year 2022, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the Court, has brought promising developments, at the judicial level with the opening of new investigations and cases, but also at the level of structural reforms and strategies and policies, in particular in application of initial recommendations from the Independent Expert Review.

But the Court faces increasing challenges from all sides. The ICC’s ability to fulfill its mandate is highly dependent on the cooperation of States Parties, but this remains an ongoing challenge, particularly with regard to the non-execution of outstanding arrest warrants. FIDH therefore reminds this ASP of the importance of cooperating actively with the Court, but also of supporting it with the allocation of adequate resources based on needs. We call on States Parties to adopt a substantial 2023 budget, in particular enabling the bodies in charge of the significant work of implementing victims’ rights to carry out the necessary activities.

FIDH and its member organisations are concerned about the current state of victims’ participation in proceedings before the Court. We note with regret that a number of the recommendations of the Independent Experts relating to victims’ rights continue to be assessed negatively, and that many of them have been reassigned to the Registry. It is particularly worrying that victims cannot systematically participate and be represented in a meaningful way when their interests are affected, including at the preliminary stages of the procedure, but also in the reparations phase. Necessary means must be allocated to the ICC so that it provides prompt and effective reparations to all eligible victims and to improve its past delays and procedural inconsistencies, as in the case of the DRC, where victims are still waiting.

Unfortunately, FIDH continues to see missed opportunities for meaningful exchanges with civil society, which often remain limited or selective. The Court’s work would be strengthened by devoting more time and resources to engaging with survivors, as well as civil society, both in the conduct of effective investigations and prosecutions, outreach work and communications, and for the development of broader policies within the ICC. It is essential that this Assembly recognise the efforts made and the vital work of civil society over many years to document serious violations, in often difficult security conditions, to work in support of the victims, and to fight against the impunity of perpetrators of the most serious crimes. States Parties must commit to guaranteeing the right conditions for civil society to work independently and collaborate seamlessly with the Court.

We urge the ASP to work to ensure that victims are placed at the heart of ICC proceedings. We reiterate the imperative need to come together to deliver the justice that victims deserve. If we continue to work towards justice for victims, but without victims and the civil society organisations that support them, the risk of losing the legitimacy and credibility of the Court will become a reality.

Thank you.

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