ICC: NPWJ welcomes positive steps for early outreach and impact, but cautions against erosion of the principle of equality before the law for all, irrespective of official capacity

28 Nov, 2013 | Press Releases

The Hague, 28 November 2013


From 20 to 28 November 2013, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) met in The Hague for its twelfth annual session.  The ASP was attended by States Parties, observer States, international organisations and non‑governmental organisations, including a delegation from No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), which was headed by its Secretary-General Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca.
NPWJ convened two side-events co-sponsored by the Delegation of Italy on:  “Accountability for Syria”, which was held on 23 November 2013 and “Complementarity in Libya”, which was held on 26 November 2013. On 22 November 2013, NPWJ also contributed, through an oral statement to the ASP plenary session, to the panel discussion entitled “Beyond Kampala: reaffirming the value of the victims’ mandate of the Rome Statute System”, delivered by Senior Program Associate Greta Barbone.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program of No Peace Without Justice:

“The Twelfth Session of the Assembly of States Parties ended on a relatively positive note. The ASP again gave good and solid directions to the Court in respect of its outreach program, including underscoring the importance of early outreach, and its field presence. This is extremely important to keep the ICC focused on those it was established to serve, namely the victims and affected communities. The ICC’s program budget for 2014 was passed despite the indications we had seen that it may be a contentious and difficult discussion, although we are concerned with the suggestion from one State that there will be a focus on “zero nominal growth” next year. We consider this to be a dangerous approach and urge all States to continue to resist it and to focus instead on ensuring the ICC has the resources it needs, while also ensuring it uses those resources efficiently and effectively.

“Nonetheless, these are important results that will help the Court maximise its impact in the coming year and we encourage the Court to make the most of what has been achieved during this past week to make the year 2014 the best year yet for the ICC and for the delivery of justice to victims and affected communities. We are disappointed by the new Rules that were adopted, which skirt dangerously close to contradicting the Rome Statute, but are pleased that they fall short of making a distinction between defendants based on their official capacity, which would have been in direct violation of the Rome Statute. We will have to reflect more on this and see how these Rules are implemented in practice to ensure they are not susceptible to an interpretation that negates the fundamental principle of equality of all before the law.

“In addition, we had fruitful discussions between all States Parties, alongside observer States and civil society, on the issues that prompted the Extraordinary AU Summit in October, including on the issue of  irrelevance of official capacity, which is a fundamental principle of the Rome Statute, and what this means in practice for a sitting Head of State or Government. There are many things that need to be discussed in further detail but we consider this dialogue to be a positive development and welcome it as a sign of the strong commitment of all States Parties to the Rome Statute system. We hope these channels of communication, involving all stakeholders, will remain open and that there may also be encouraging developments in the near future on opening an ICC Liaison Office with the AU in Addis Abeba.”


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.