Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Trust Fund for Victims at the International Criminal Court

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

By Motoo Noguchi, Chair of the Board of Directors.

International Criminal Court (ICC) is well-known in The Hague as the first permanent international criminal tribunal in the history of mankind which punishes the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, it may not be well-known that the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the ICC is similarly the first of its kind in the history of international criminal justice in providing reparations and assistance to victims of these crimes. In fact, the aspect of reparative justice is one of the core elements of the Rome Statute and perhaps the most innovative and ambitious one.

The TFV has two main mandates: to implement Court-ordered reparations for victims (reparations mandate) and to provide physical, psychological, and material support to victims (assistance mandate). In the absence of finalized criminal convictions so far, the TFV has been active with the assistance mandate since 2008 in northern Uganda and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The number of direct beneficiaries of programmes in these countries has amounted to more than 120,000.

The TFV’s assistance includes a wide variety of activities, from the provision of orthopedic surgery and artificial limbs to micro-financing schemes for victims of sexual and gender based violence to peace education at peace schools for youth including former child soldiers. The TFV’s assistance addresses the sufferings of victims not as those of isolated individuals but as those of family and community members, and therefore aims to assist them in returning to an important member of the family and community. Through community sensitization, the TFV also tries to improve social and cultural environments which often put victims in double-victimization such as discrimination against victims of rape.

The TFV depends its financial basis for the assistance mandate entirely on voluntary contributions from the States and donations from private sectors. This also applies to the reparations mandate, except when assets of the convicted person or assets originating from forfeiture or fine constitute a main source. Every year, the TFV spends approximately around €2 million for programmes under the assistance mandate, but there are still many victims who are beyond the reach of ongoing programmes. Hundreds of thousands of victims, who have nobody else to cry for help, are waiting for the TFV’s interventions to be expanded.

Here is what I would like to cordially invite you to play a lead role by raising awareness and strengthening political and financial support for the TFV. That will allow the TFV to be a more powerful vehicle to bring justice for victims of the most serious international crimes. Despite the nature of crimes as “international”, the sufferings and loss of individual victims are local and personal. Their lives have unfortunately turned to be difficult by conflicts beyond their control. Your leadership will certainly help them restore their hope and dignity, recover their lives, and return to respectful members of the community.

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