ICC Review Conference: NPWJ welcomes progress towards a strengthened international criminal justice system

12 Jun, 2010 | NPWJ in the News

No Peace Without Justice welcomes the progress made by the Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), held in Kampala, Uganda from 31 May to 11 June, in strengthening the international criminal justice system as a whole.

The Conference provided an unprecedented opportunity to enhance public support for the ICC in Africa and for African States Parties to reaffirm their firm and unequivocal commitment to the common objectives of fighting impunity, promoting victims’ rights and ending the crimes that have made the Rome Statute system necessary.

During the Review Conference, States agreed on a definition of the Crime of Aggression, which is based on the definition embodied in General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, and the conditions under which the Court will be able to exercise jurisdiction. NPWJ is particularly glad that, while recognising the Security Council’s role in determining the existence of an act of aggression, the independence of the Court has been preserved. The Prosecutor can indeed act in the absence of such a determination of the Security Council on his own initiative or upon request from a State Party but, before initiating investigations, he or she needs to obtain authorisation from the Pre-Trial Division of the Court. NPWJ finds of crucial importance that the organ called to authorise the beginning of investigations by the Prosecutor is an internal and independent division of the Court and it is not a political organ of the UN, such as the Security Council, where a few countries also have a power of veto on others..

In the most innovative sessions of the Review Conference, States dedicated much of the first week towards reflecting on and evaluating some of the crucial challenges confronting the ICC in its day-to-day work and the impact of the Court on the international justice system as part of the stocktaking exercise. NPWJ is particularly pleased about the discussions on peace and justice that have recognised once and for all that justice is an essential part of lasting peace and that both need to be pursued, hand in hand. NPWJ also welcomes the outcome documents of the stocktaking and notes with great appreciation that in discussing the impact and challenges of the Court, States have given a central role to the views and perspectives of victims and affected communities that have been reflected in the final documents.

The participation of victims and affected communities in the Review Conference has been a long standing policy objective of the Human Rights Network- Uganda (HURINET-U), the Coalition for the ICC (UCICC) and NPWJ that since January 2010 have organised several pre-Review Conference field visits to create opportunities for dialogue and interactions among States delegates and victims, affected communities, and the main stakeholders of the Court in Uganda. Moreover, during the Review Conference HURINET-U, UCICC and NPWJ dedicated an area inside the venue where the Conference was taking place, the People’s Space, to enhance interactions between civil society participants and delegates.

The football gameorganised on Sunday 30 May by African Youth Initiative Network (AYNET), Uganda Victims Foundation (UVF), with technical support of NPWJ, provided a unique opportunity as the Review Conference was opening for victims to interact with delegates and dignitaries like H.E. Mr. BAN Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, President Christian Wenaweser of the ICC ASP, H.E. President Museveni of Uganda, Mr. Angelino Alfano, Italian Ministry of Justice, Sen. Emma Bonino, Vice President of the Italian Senate. The Football Game went a long way in helping to set the policy tone for the Review Conference and focused attention of the international community on enhancing the understanding of justice needs and experiences of communities affected by the Court’s work.

For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-2-548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-39 15.