|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
International Criminal Court
Assembly of States Parties
Fifth Session (Resumed)
8th Meeting (AM)
States parties to International Criminal Court
open United Nations headquarters session
The Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court today opened its fifth resumed session at United Nations Headquarters today with the Assembly President, Bruno Stagno Ugarte of Costa Rica urging robust support for the Court as it carried out its mandate “in this pivotal year”.
The International Criminal Court was established to try persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Rome Statute, which, in July 1998, created the Court, currently has 104 States parties: 29 are African States, 15 are from Eastern Europe, 22 are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 26 are from Western Europe and other States. Known as the “court of last resort”, the Court will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine; for example, if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility.
Serving as the Court’s management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties is composed of representatives of the States that have ratified or acceded to the Statute. The Assembly decides on various items, such as the adoption of normative texts and of the budget, the election of the judges and of the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor(s). According to the Statute’s article 112 (7), each State party has one vote, and every effort should be made to reach decisions by consensus both in the Assembly and the Bureau. If consensus cannot be reached, a vote is taken.
By adopting its programme of work today for the current session, the Assembly decided to convene the first meeting of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression this afternoon. It would meet twice tomorrow and again on Wednesday morning. The Working Group, established in 2002, had before it as a possible basis for discussion a revised paper proposed by the Chairman (document ICC-ASP/5/SWGCA/2), which presents the divergent approaches to the question.
The Credentials Committee, having met for the first time this morning during a brief suspension of the plenary meeting, will hold its second meeting on Thursday, 1 February. Immediately afterwards, the Special Working Group will reconvene to adopt its report to the Assembly. The Assembly was expected to meet in plenary that afternoon to consider that report, as well as the report of the Credentials Committee. States parties will also hear from the Rapporteur before receiving and adopting the report for the resumed fifth session.
Also today, the Assembly President announced the States in arrears. Under paragraph 8 article 112 of the Rome Statute, currently 13 States are in arrears and, accordingly, will be unable to vote during the resumed fifth session. The States are: Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uganda and Zambia. He once again appealed to all States parties to settle their accounts as soon as possible with the Court.
Chairing the Credentials Committee, Adi G. Khair of Jordan, provided an interim oral report, said that credentials could be updated and finalized in a report to the Committee by the end of the session.
When the Assembly turned to the seat vacated by Judge Maureen Harding Clark of Ireland, who had resigned her post, the President read out two options, noting that the Bureau had recommended deferring the election to fill the judicial vacancy until the sixth session in November. The Assembly concurred.
Before the President concluded the meeting, he announced that, concerning the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pre-trial chamber 1 had confirmed three charges brought by the prosecution for the period September 2002 to 13 August 2003 and, therefore, had referred the case for trial. Its bench would be announced. He added that everyone was “pleased, very pleased that the ICC is moving forward”.
The Assembly of States Parties is expected to meet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, 1 February, to conclude its session.
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