ICC States Parties’ gathering concludes: the paradox of collective political support for accountability without adequate financial support may impact the effectiveness of the ICC

Press release

(The Hague, Paris) In a week-long Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that took place in The Hague from 5 to 12 December 2018, States renewed their support to the ICC in the face of strong attacks against the Court aiming at undermining the Court’s credibility and universality and at hampering potential future investigations. FIDH regrets the bare minimum increase of the Court’s budget for 2019. A distinguished FIDH delegation actively participated throughout the ASP and defended five key recommendations to States Parties and the Assembly for a strong and effective Court of last resort.

Political support to the Court has been a key demand by FIDH and other human rights organisations in response to the recent concerning hostile threats against the Court by various states, most notably the United States. In this regard, FIDH welcomes the Assembly’s resolution in which it:
“Reconfirms it’s unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution, reiterates its commitment to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it, and renews its resolve to stand united against impunity”. [1]

FIDH welcomed the plenary on Victim Participation and Legal Representation, an occasion for the Assembly and States Parties to reaffirm the importance of victims’ centrality in the criminal process. This attention is of importance as victim participation is considered one of the most innovative features of the ICC Statute, granting victims, for the very first time, the right to participate in international criminal proceedings. When implemented in a meaningful manner, victim participation is a first step in the restorative justice process, giving victims the right to participate in the fight against impunity, and providing an essential link between the Court in The Hague and affected communities in situation countries. FIDH and other human rights organisations highlight the need for a wider and consistent outreach to victims, a comprehensive field presence, and the importance of legal aid and meaningful legal representation to victims. [2] FIDH recommends the (re)establishment of the co-facilitation on victim issues for the consideration of these and other victim issues in a coherent and consistent manner.

Nevertheless, FIDH strongly regrets that the ASP approved the ICC budget of 2019 with a bare minimal increase of 0.49% from the 2018 ICC budget, granting the Court a budget amounting to €148,135,100. This increase is lower than the recommended increase of 0.6% by the Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), and lower than the inflation rate of this year in The Netherlands. It is also lower than the 2.6% increase requested by the ICC in its budget proposal. FIDH reiterates that financial support to the Court must be needs-driven and not resource-driven as seen in the “zero nominal growth” approach favored by a number of States. Adequate financial support would ensure that the Court has the capacity to implement its mandate, to prosecute those bearing the highest responsibility of grave crimes, and to enable the effective implementation of victims’ rights.

"There is a misconception of ICC activities being limited to those in the courtroom, missing the significant activities carried out in situation countries including investigations, outreach to victims and affected communities, and the implementation of reparation awards. Even at the Courtroom level, the Court has seen the arrest and transfer of three suspects this year alone, which implies growing courtroom activities in 2019. There are increased active investigations and preliminary examinations as well, all of which make us wonder: how can this minimal budgetary increase make sense?"

Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH Vice President

FIDH welcomed with great appreciation the statement made by ten States Parties (Argentina, Belgium, Costa Rica, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland) at the closing session of the ASP in which they similarly expressed disappointment with the budget of 2019, which they would have liked to be more in line with the real needs of the Court, fearing that the operational capacity of the Court will be negatively impacted by insufficient funding.

Finally, FIDH applauds the voluntary contributions made to the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) by a number of States, at a time where the TFV is engaged in three reparation programmes following the conviction of Lubanga (DRC), Katanga (DRC) and Al Mahdi (Mali), and various assistance programmes including a recently launched programme in the Central African Republic for the benefit of thousands of victims who participated in the Bemba case, and other victims of sexual and gender based crimes [3] of the same 2002-2003 conflict in the country.

For an overview of FIDH’s activities during this ASP, please see here.

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