11th ASP to the ICC: NPWJ calls for a stronger international criminal justice system, through outreach and an intensified ICC field presence

14 Nov, 2012 | Press Releases

The Hague, 14 November 2012

From 14 to 22 November 2012, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will meet in The Hague for its eleventh annual session.  The ASP will be attended by States Parties, observer States, international organisations and non‑governmental organisations, including a delegation from No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ). NPWJ’s delegation will be headed by its Secretary-General Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca, who will address the Assembly during the General Debate on Thursday, 15 November 2012. NPWJ will also convene several side-events on:  “Developing a Comprehensive Completion Strategy for the ICC”, co-sponsored by the United Kingdom and to be held on 17 November 2012; “Transitional Justice in the MENA region”,  together with partners and human rights activists from Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Syria, to be held on 19 November 2012; and the “Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal” to be held on 21 November 2012.

Statement by Niccolo’ Figa’-Talamanca, Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice:
“Ten years ago there was no permanent international body with jurisdiction over crimes under international law: the fact that there is now an ICC where none existed before, and that it has remained in existence despite often very strong opposition, is in itself an achievement. Victims and populations that have suffered directly and indirectly from crimes under international law now have the potential for their suffering to be acknowledged, which was lacking 10 years ago. As survivors with rights, rather than objects of pity, they also have an important advocacy tool to which they can point and against which they can hold their governments accountable, whether because they are States Parties or because they are not.

“Crucially, the success of the Court cannot be measured through the number of investigations, prosecutions or convictions. Success is not a numbers game, but a question of the Court’s relevance and the impact it has on the global and national political levels, on the minds of would-be perpetrators of violations and in the lives of victims and populations that have suffered crimes under international law. To maintain and strengthen its relevance and impact, the ICC must have teeth: it must be sufficiently well resourced and supported, and sufficiently effective and efficient, to be a real threat, not merely a paper tiger.

“To give real teeth to the promise of justice, all States Parties should fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute and cooperate fully with the ICC, notably by ensuring the enforcement of all its outstanding arrest warrants. We cannot – and must not – forget that there are still numerous fugitives from justice: their prompt arrest and transfer to face trial is the least that their victims deserve. All States must ensure that there will be no safe haven anywhere in the world in which alleged war criminals may hide.

“If the States parties and the international community have an essential role in ensuring that the ICC does not become ineffectual, the ICC must also improve its work methods. The ICC must not forget that its main challenges lie in strengthening its impact on people, through its outreach work and through increasing its field presence, two areas where important progress has been made but which remain woefully inadequate for the demands on the ICC and for the promise it can have.

“The ICC cannot expect to be effective in its investigations and proceedings merely through its presence at The Hague. Expanding the number of field offices and increasing collaboration with human rights defenders and affected communities within situation countries would undeniably allow the ICC to surpass its limitations or faults and to respond in a manner that is adequate to the nature or extent of crimes committed.

“Providing outreach to concerned populations, encouraging victim participation, especially of the most vulnerable, such as women and children, from the start is also an important means by which to fulfil the most important role of the Court’s mandate: providing a sense of shared justice and accountability to its primary constituents, i.e. the victims of the crimes it investigates and prosecutes.

“These efforts will have a tremendous impact in the coming years on the ability of the ICC to ensure a positive and lasting legacy, by restoring trust in the rule and institutions of law and building sustainable peace, in countries in which it operates and how it is perceived.

“We urge States Parties to keep this in mind during the discussions at this 11th Session of the ASP and to take the proper decisions that will allow the Court to be responsive to the needs and expectations of millions of people who are looking to it for justice and redress”.

NPWJ and the ICC
No Peace Without Justice, which is a founding member of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) and which has been one of the organisations at the forefront of promoting the establishment and entry into force of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) and continues to work for its universal ratification, has participated in every session of the ASP since its first session in 2002, the year the ICC was established.

For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3915.