Wednesday, February 1, 2023

21st session of the Assembly of States Parties opens in The Hague

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The twenty-first session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened today at the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague, The Netherlands. The session is scheduled from 5 to 10 December 2022. 

At this session, in The Hague, States Parties to the Rome Statute, observer States, invited States, international and regional organizations and representatives from civil society will discuss key challenges facing the Statute. States Parties will also adopt resolutions on important issues pertaining to the functioning of the Court and the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), including on their respective budgets, on cooperation and the recommendation on the Election of the ICC Registrar.

Calling for the renewed support to the Court, H.E. Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the Assembly of States Parties, stressed its “vital role in the international legal framework to ensure the accountability of perpetrators of atrocity crimes and bring justice to victims. The increased cooperation of States Parties and the promotion of the work of the Court are essential to achieve the global aspirations of the Court’s mandate.”

The President of the Court, judge Piotr Hofmański, emphasised that the Court was ending an exceptional year: “The Court’s workload reached unprecedented heights, with new trials as well as new investigations. We celebrated the ICC’s 20th anniversary, a mark of significant maturity for our institution. And we returned to full physical presence at the Court’s premises. …The demands and expectations toward the ICC may be higher today than ever before. And the Court is responding to these expectations with fullest dedication.” The President also called for enhanced cooperation from States with the Court and an increased budget: “It is critically important to build capacity now so that we can cope effectively with the workload that awaits us. We need a sufficient and balanced regular budget for that purpose,” he stated. The President also mentioned the importance of making the ICC system more universal: “Many non-party States are present in this room today – I call upon you all to take steps toward joining the Rome Statute without delay.”

ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC stated: “At this moment, almost 25 years on since Rome, we need the law and the International Criminal Court more than ever. In 2022 my Office has implemented significant changes to make us more agile, field-focused and increase our capacity to partner effectively with survivors and impacted communities. While there are still many challenges to address and overcome, the progress we have made in implementing this vision is testament to the commitment and dedication of all members of the Office. I believe we now stand ready to deliver more effectively for survivors and the families of victims”. 

Prosecutor Khan also underlined the need to deepen partnerships to render collective work towards justice more effective: “My time thus far as Prosecutor has shown again and again that we will only achieve the true promise of the Rome Statute by working together, across all actors. The Assembly of States Parties is an opportunity for us to convert the words of justice, and the important words of support for the Court we have heard this year, into concrete action that can be felt by those who look to this Court for the vindication of their basic rights”.

The Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims, Minou Tavárez Mirabal, stated: “This Board of Directors has strongly pushed for better communication and visibility about its numerous programmes and for increasing fundraising efforts. Based on the fundraising strategy presented to the Board in July 2022, the Trust Fund for Victims has developed its new Strategic Plan 2023 to 2025. The new strategy makes use of the TFV’s strongest asset: The Trust Fund for Victims and the Court together are the pillar of reparative justice of the Rome Statute. Together we can work to put in place transformative reparations for and with victims. Together we can mitigate the negative effects of Rome Statute crimes for the next generations. Together we can work for peace and stability. We call upon all States Parties to consider providing additional voluntary contributions, including development funding for the benefit of victims and their families.”

The ICC, governed by the Rome Statute, is the world’s first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and the crime of aggression. In accordance with article 112 of the Rome Statute, the Assembly is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC. It is composed of representatives of the States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute.

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