Making victim-centred justice work at the International Criminal Court: FIDH recommendations to the 22nd ICC Assembly of States Parties

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Alex Storer (International Criminal Court image © Roel Wijnants, adapted under the Creative Commons License 4.0)

Ahead of the 22nd Assembly of States Parties (ASP22) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) scheduled to take place in New York from 4-14 December 2023, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) presents six key recommendations to ICC States Parties. Building upon its engagement throughout 2023 on accountability for the most serious international crimes the tireless and continuous work conducted by FIDH member organisations, and responding to ongoing conflicts throughout the globe, FIDH urges States Parties to support impartial, non-selective, timely, and most of all victim-centred justice at the ICC.

FIDH will actively participate in ASP22 notably includes the election of six new judges (one-third of the ICC bench), the historic first-of-its-kind adoption of a permanent due diligence procedure for all ICC elections, the adoption of a long-awaited new legal aid policy, discussions and agreement on the 2024 programme budget of the Court, and debates on the crucial need to improve state cooperation with the Court.

Issues at stake at ASP22

"In the face of escalating global conflicts and the unfolding horror of atrocities in real-time, the ICC’s significance has reached unprecedented levels. The ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for international justice, one that is impartial and non-selective. States Parties must reaffirm their commitment to the Court to ensure it is adequately equipped with the essential resources to fulfil its mandate", said Mazen Darwish, Secretary General of FIDH, and General Director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). "A victim-centred justice system is crucial; without it, the most vulnerable victims and survivors risk being overlooked, their voices unheard, and their suffering unaddressed", he added.

In 2023, as States Parties and Court commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute, numerous challenges remain. Throughout the year, the ICC has yet again faced insufficient state cooperation (with 14 arrest warrants still outstanding), limited resources (and liquidation issues), attacks and intimidation against ICC high officials (following arrest warrants issued in the Situation of Ukraine), as well as an unprecedented cyber attack. These challenges continue to hinder the Court’s progress in its preliminary examinations, investigations and cases, and constitute significant barriers to delivering meaningful and victim-centred justice. Despite the challenges it faces, the ICC stands as one of the only beacons of justice for alleged crimes that states are either unable or unwilling to prosecute. Not only must States Parties continue to support the Court politically and financially, but also strive to enhance its effectiveness within the international justice system through active cooperation.

In this context, the 22nd ASP represents a crucial juncture for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to accountability and meaningful justice for victims of international crimes. This moment presents States Parties with a unique chance to bolster the Court, affirm its mandate, and actively support key stakeholders integral to the Court’s operations, such as legal counsel and civil society organisations, by investing in victim-centred justice. FIDH calls on States Parties to leverage this symbolic year by addressing some of these critical challenges to improve the ICC’s efficiency, credibility and legitimacy, including by adopting crucial ICC policies.

"The Rome Statute at 25: Making Victim-Centred Justice work at the ICC"

FIDH presents six key recommendations the ICC Assembly of States Parties, 4-14 December 2023, New York.
 Invest in victim-centred justice and support the implementation of a trauma-informed approach at the ICC.
 Adopt an equitable legal aid policy that upholds victims’ Rome Statute rights and ensures fair remuneration for Counsel.
 Implement gender-responsive policies and budgeting.
 Defend the defenders: actively support civil society and human rights defenders who champion the work of the ICC.
 Upholding the ICC’s promise to victims: a pivotal call to States Parties for cooperation and complementarity.
 Adopt the historic permanent due diligence process for all ICC Elections at ASP22.

The position paper also contains an overview of FIDH’s work on international justice throughout 2023, including a compilation of its publications.

FIDH’s participation in ASP22

FIDH will participate in ASP22 with a delegation headed by Mazen Darwish, FIDH Secretary General, Founder and Director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). This delegation will include representatives of FIDH’s international secretariat and member organisations from around the world.

FIDH will participate in plenary sessions and actively advocate for policies and activities that put victims at the centre, and also co-hosting the following side events focusing on human rights defenders, upholding of victims’ Rome Statute rights, and civil society’s role in documenting international crimes.

1) Protecting and Defending Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society: What Role for ICC States Parties and the Court?
Thursday, 7 December 2023 | 13:15 – 14:30 | Conference Room 7, UN Headquarters in New York
Co-hosted by Finland, Coalition for the ICC (CICC), FIDH, Al-Haq, Lawyers for Justice in Libya

2) A Victim-Centred ICC: Navigating Challenges to Realising Victims’ Rights and Reparative Justice from 1998-2023
Friday, 8 December 2023 | 13:15 – 14:30 | Conference Room 9, UN Headquarters in New York
Co-hosted by Austria, Finland, Denmark, FIDH, ICC Trust Fund for Victims, REDRESS, CICC, and the International Center for MultiGenerational Legacies of Trauma (ICMGLT)

3) Paving the way to justice: the role of civil society in documenting international crimes
Monday, 11 December 2023 | 13:15 – 14:30 | Conference Room 11, UN Headquarters in New York
Co-hosted by Denmark, Netherlands, UK, REDRESS, FIDH, DIGNITY, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

FIDH will be providing real-time updates on its participation and events at #ASP22 – follow in particular the X accounts of:
 Mazen Darwish, FIDH Secretary General, @mazenadarwish3
 Danya Chaikel, Representative to the International Criminal Court, @DanyaChaikel
 Elise Flecher, International Justice Programme Officer, @EliseFlecher

Fidh Asp22 En by FIDH on Scribd

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