By Nicolas Boeglin, Professor of International Law, Law Faculty, University of Costa Rica.
Last January 6, United Nations Secretary General issued a note indicating that ICC’s Rome Statute will enter into force as to the State of Palestine on April 1, 2015 (see official note of Secretary General acting as depositary of Rome Statute). On 7 January 2015, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute welcomed the deposit by Palestine of the instruments of accession to the Rome Statute of the ICC as well as the agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court (APIC) (see official ICC press release).
On the very same day, ICC Registar sent a letter to Palestine authorities (see letter) confirming the reception of a declaration made pursuant article 12(3) of Rome Statute: “Excellency, I hereby confirm receipt, on 1 January 2015, of your 31 December 2014 “Declaration Accepting the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court” which was lodged with me pursuant to article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, and in which you state that “the Government of the State of Palestine recognizes the jurisdiction of the Court for the purpose of identifying, prosecuting and judging authors and accomplices of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since 13 June 2014.” Pursuant to Rule 4(2) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, a declaration under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute has the effect of the acceptance of jurisdiction with respect to the crimes referred to in article 5 of the Statute of relevance to the situation, as well as the application of the provisions of Part 9 of the Statute and any rules thereunder concerning to States Parties. I hereby accept the declaration and I have transmited it to the Prosecutor for her consideration. This acceptance is without prejudice to any prosecutorial or judicial determinations on this matter“.
In August 2014, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda explained in an article published in The Guardian her position with respect to the lack of jurisdiction of ICC on crimes committed in Gaza (see article). It must be recalled that on January 21, 2009, Palestine sent a similar declaration to ICC: « the Government of Palestine recognizes the jurisdiction of the Court for the purpose of identifying, prosecuting and judging the authors and accomplices of acts committed on the territory of Palestine since July 2002 ». A selected group of experts in international law considered in 2010 that this declaration made in 2009 allowed ICC to exercise his jurisdiction on Gaza situation (see collective document entitled: “Les effets de la reconnaissance par la Palestine de la compétence de la CPI”).
In addition to the 1998 Rome Statute and the declaration made, there are other relevant international treaties to which Palestine is becoming State Party since Dec.31, 2014. The complete list of treaties that Palestine has acceded is the following:
1. Convention on the Political Rights of Women
2. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the ‘New York Convention’)
3. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
4. Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity
5. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)
6. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III)
7. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses
8. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents
9. United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
10. Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel
11. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
12. Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
13. Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court
14. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
15. Declaration in accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
16. The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons
17. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
18. Convention on Cluster Munitions
(Source: UNISPAL note reproducing the letter of President M. Abbas of Dec 31, 2014).
Concerning UN Convention of 1997 on International Watercourses, a recent note in a specialized site on international water regulations indicated that: “In addition, with Palestine’s accession to the Convention, Israel is now the only state in the Jordan River Basin to not have joined the treaty. Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria – all riparians to the Jordan River Basin – became Parties to the Convention in 1999, 1999, and 1998, respectively“.