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ICC hosts event on legal framework to address bullying and harassment in international organisations

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6 November 2019, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in partnership with the International Bar Association (IBA), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Municipality of The Hague, hosted a roundtable to discuss the legal framework in international organisations to address bullying and harassment.

The roundtable was attended by 150 representatives of Hague- based international organisations, civil society and experts. 

The event featured keynotes speeches by ICC Vice President Judge Robert Fremr, The Hague’s Deputy Mayor Saskia Bruines, and ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart and closing remarks by ICC Registrar Peter Lewis. With a panel of experts from the ICC, IBA, and ILO, the discussions covered a range of issues from existing legal frameworks on bullying and harassment to best practices and possible solutions.

“There is a strict prohibition on harassment of any kind within the International Criminal Court,” ICC First Vice-President Judge Robert Fremr emphasised at the opening of the event. “Through its Court-wide Strategic Plan for 2019-2021, the Court set a goal that promises to ensure the wellbeing and continuous improvement of its staff by offering a safe and secure working environment. In order to achieve such a goal […] it is a requirement that all levels within an organization practice a culture of zero tolerance for bullying and harassment,” Judge Fremr added. 

ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart underscored that the Court’s legal and normative framework on bullying and harassment is key to preventing and addressing unacceptable behaviours in the workplace.  He said that enforcement and strengthening a culture of awareness and obedience to the highest standards required of international civil servants are important remedial responses; such safeguards are doubly effective in an organisational culture where staff members themselves are alert and active guardians of what is and what is not objectively acceptable behaviour.  In this regard, he saluted the staff of the ICC and the Staff Union Council at the Court for their efforts in promoting greater awareness of this issue through a sustained campaign. He emphasised that the Court is committed to ensuring that it has the most effective and robust institutional response to this serious matter.

The Deputy Mayor of The Hague, Saskia Bruines, said: “As the international city of peace and justice, I am a firm believer that international organisations need to pay attention to the health and wellbeing of its staff if they want to successfully fulfil their mandates for creating a better world.”

In his closing remarks, ICC Registrar Peter Lewis reaffirmed his “commitment and that of the Court to provide all with a working environment, which is healthy and safe, where everyone feels valued and respected.”

This event forms part of ICC’s ongoing efforts to prevent harassment, including sexual harassment, to increase awareness of these issues and to promote a work environment that is free from harassment of any kind. Various initiatives are underway to help sustain a work environment upholding dignity and respect for all.

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