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Review Conference: Latest NGO Statements, ICC Releases, EU Council
27 May 2010
Please find below information and materials issued in advance of the Review
Conference of the Rome Statute, to be held from 31 May to 11 June 2010 in
This digest includes latest media statements issued by CICC member NGOs in
advance of the Review Conference (I), recent ICC press releases (II),
Conclusions of the Council of the European Union on the Conference (III), as
well as related news articles and opinions, including OP-Eds by UN
Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, ICC President Sang-Hyun Song, and Nobel Peace
Laureate Wangari Maathai (IV).
For more information on the Review Conference, visit:
I. LATEST NGOs MEDIA STATEMENTS
1) “ICC: Strengthen International Justice at Kampala Conference: Watershed
Moment for Governments to Renew Commitment to International Criminal Court,”
Press Release, Human Rights Watch, 27 May 2010,
“Governments should use the first review conference of the International
Criminal Court (ICC) to advance justice for the worst international crimes,
Human Rights Watch said today. The 10-day conference, which begins May 31, 2010,
is being held in Kampala, Uganda.
Representatives of the court's 111 member states, non-member states, the United
Nations, and civil society groups will gather at the conference to reaffirm the
importance of bringing to justice those accused of genocide, war crimes, and
crimes against humanity, the crimes covered by the ICC. The treaty that created
the court, the Rome Statute, mandated holding a review conference seven years
after its entry into force to discuss possible amendments. The first part of the
conference will address crucial challenges confronting the ICC in its day-to-day
work as part of "stocktaking" sessions.
"This major gathering of officials and activists from around the world in
Kampala is bad news for those responsible for the worst international crimes,"
said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. "We
expect governments to seize the moment to step up their commitment to global
After four days of debate and discussion at the conference on strengthening the
ICC and the emerging system of international justice, governments will review
proposals to amend the ICC treaty. One of the amendments for discussion is
whether to adopt a definition of the crime of aggression - using force that is
manifestly contrary to the UN charter - and if so, the manner in which the court
would exercise jurisdiction over such cases.
Human Rights Watch called on governments to make commitments at the conference
to take specific steps to bolster cooperation with the ICC. The court relies on
governments to carry out arrests and assist its investigations and prosecutions.
Seven of the ICC's suspects remain at large.
"Unless governments actually make arrests, the ICC cannot deliver justice to
victims of mass atrocities," Dicker said. "We will be listening in Kampala for
pledges of increased support to place perpetrators and would-be perpetrators on
notice that they will be held to account."
Regional intergovernmental organizations including the European Union and the
Union of South American Nations have, in advance of the conference, issued
statements of support for the ICC and international justice. Over 100 African
civil society organizations have signed a statement calling on their governments
to reaffirm their commitment to the ICC at the Kampala conference.
Last year's backlash over the court's arrest warrant for President Omar
al-Bashir of Sudan -whose re-inauguration takes place today in Khartoum - has
underscored the importance of strong public backing for the court's mandate.
Controversy over the court's warrant for Omar al-Bashir indicates that it is
doing its job to make sure that even the most senior officials answer for
alleged crimes, Human Rights Watch said.
The conference's location in Kampala also offers a unique opportunity to forge
stronger links between the ICC and those affected by egregious international
crimes in Africa, Human Rights Watch said. States should consider as well how to
extend the reach of international justice through credible trials of ICC crimes
at the national level.
"Breaking the vicious cycle of international crimes and impunity requires
credible national trials in addition to ICC trials in The Hague," Dicker said.
"Discussions in Kampala should include attention to bolstering accountability
efforts at home."
With regard to the discussions of the crime of aggression, Human Rights Watch
said that it takes no position on the definition. But Human Rights Watch
expressed concern that making the crime of aggression operational could link the
ICC to highly politicized disputes between states that could diminish the
court's role - and perceptions of that role - as an impartial judicial arbiter
of international criminal law.
Human Rights Watch is also concerned about proposals to allow outside entities
such as the UN Security Council, its General Assembly, or the International
Court of Justice to decide whether the ICC can investigate alleged crimes of
aggression. Human Rights Watch has long opposed control of any crime within the
court's jurisdiction by external bodies because it would undermine the ICC's
2) “Africa: Civil Society Urges Support for ICC Leaders Should Make the Most out
of Kampala Conference,” African CSOs, 24 May 2010,
“A group of 124 organizations from more than 25 African countries released a
declaration today calling on African governments to advance accountability for
grave international crimes at the review conference for the International
Criminal Court (ICC). The conference, which will take place in Kampala, Uganda
from May 31 to June 11, 2010, is being convened to discuss amendments to the
‘The civil society declaration is a strong showing of support for positive
African government action at the Kampala conference and for the ICC more
generally,’ said Oby Nwankwo, executive director of Nigeria’s Civil Resource
Development and Documentation Center. ‘While some leaders have tried to paint
Africa as against the ICC, our voices are testament to the fallacy of such
The declaration was developed in consultation with multiple African civil
society groups that have collaborated on issues relating to Africa and the ICC
over the past year. The declaration does not address proposed amendments to the
ICC statute, including aggression, but provides views on other issues of
importance for the ICC that will be covered at the conference, such as the
impact of justice on victims and cooperation with the court.
The review conference’s location in Uganda adds to its significance, as the
event can help forge a stronger link between the ICC and Africa, the declaration
said. The review conference will also be an important opportunity for victims
and civil society to be heard on the ICC.
Governments have the opportunity to make concrete commitments to advance support
for the court at the conference in the form of pledges. The declaration urges
African states to pledge to assist the ICC, including by working to establish a
liaison office at the African Union, and by enacting laws to implement the ICC
‘The Kampala conference offers an exceptional occasion for African governments
to help advance the global fight against impunity,’ said Mohammed Ndifuna,
executive director of Human Rights Network-Uganda. ‘Our leaders should use the
conference to restate their commitment to justice for victims and pledge to take
steps to assist the ICC.’
The signature list for the declaration includes endorsements up through May 24.
However, more signatures are expected throughout the conference, and an updated
version will be made available once the conference ends.
To read the civil society declaration, please visit:
3) “Renewing Commitment to Accountability,” FIDH Position paper for the ICC
review Conference, 25 May 2010,
“On the occasion of the ICC Review Conference to be held in Kampala, Uganda,
from 31 May to 11 June 2010, FIDH is issuing a position paper on the main issues
of discussion: “ICC Review Conference: Renewing Commitment to Accountability”.
According to Article 123, a Review Conference of the Statute was to be convened
seven years after its entry into force. The first Review Conference of the Rome
Statute will take place in Kampala, Uganda, from 31 May to 11 June 2010. The
Conference will bring together representatives of 111 States Parties, observer
States, inter-governmental organisations and hundreds of non-governmental
Almost eight years after the entry into force of its Statute, the ICC is a
well-established and recognised institution, with five on-going investigations
into atrocities committed in several countries. The Office of the Prosecutor is
also monitoring other situations in five continents with a view to possibly
opening further investigations. The Court has issued thirteen public arrest
warrants, following which four persons have been arrested and surrendered to
Court. The persons who are and have been sought include the President of Sudan
and a former Vice-President of the Republic of Congo. This attests to the full
implementation of the principle that there are no immunities for the most
serious crimes. The ICC is currently conducting its first two trials and will
soon open a third one. It is implementing innovative provisions on victims’
rights, allowing for the participation of hundreds of victims in proceedings,
and conducting assistance projects to attend to their physical, psychological
and material needs.
FIDH welcomed the inclusion of a “stocktaking” segment in the programme of the
Review Conference. In this paper, FIDH provides its own evaluation and makes
recommendations on the four topics of the stocktaking exercise, namely:
A) impact on victims and affected communities;
C) peace and justice; and
FIDH will also be monitoring the adoption of the three proposals for amendments:
A) the revision of Article 124;
B) the inclusion of the use of certain weapons as war crimes in the context of
an armed conflict not of an international character (“Belgian proposal”) and
C) the definition of the crime of aggression. This paper also offers an analysis
and recommendations pertaining to these proposals.
The comments and evaluation provided in this paper are drawn from the experience
of FIDH in the area of international justice since the 1990s. The organisation
participated in the Preparatory Committee, the Rome Conference as well as the
Preparatory Commission. Since the Statute’s entry into force, FIDH activities in
this area have focused on, inter alia, monitoring of the Court’s operations, the
sessions of the Assembly of States Parties (“Assembly”) and the impact of the
work of the Court in various countries, including but not limited to countries
under investigation. Significantly, this paper incorporates the views of FIDH’s
member organisations which have deployed great efforts for the implementation of
the Rome Statute in their respective countries.
FIDH has been involved in preparations for the Review Conference since 2006. It
has also monitored negotiations for a definition of the crime of aggression over
the years. It contributed actively to discussions on the Review Conference prior
to, during and after the eighth session of the Assembly. Notably, throughout
2010, it contributed to shaping the stocktaking discussions, either through
input provided by the Coalition for the ICC (CICC) and the Victims’ Rights
Working Group (VRWG), or by direct contacts with the focal points assigned to
each stocktaking item. FIDH fully supports the papers produced by the CICC
thematic teams during the preparation phase, as well as the VRWG Report “The
Impact of the Rome Statute on Victims and Affected Communities.”
To read the position paper, see: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/KampalaCPI543a.pdf
4) “Review Conference of the Rome Statute, ICC’s founding treaty: Switzerland
must continue to engage in favour of the ICC,” Press Release, Swiss Coalition
for the ICC, 26 May 2010,
[Informal Translation provided by the CICC secretariat]
The Swiss Coalition for the International Criminal Court urges Switzerland to
send a high level delegation to the Review Conference of the International
Criminal Court’s Statute and looks forward to the crime of aggression to be
prosecuted by the Court in the future, in all independence and without political
In the name of the Swiss Coalition of the ICC (CS-CPI), TRIAL, a Swiss
association against impunity, sent a letter to the federal Department of foreign
affairs, to the federal Department of justice and police stating the position of
the CSCPI in relation with the engagements which Switzerland could to take at
this historical event, which is crucial for the ICC as well as international and
national criminal justice for the most serious crimes.
... Amendments to the Statute will be probably adopted. The most delicate
regards the definition of the crime of aggression .... In this respect, the
CSCPI urges Switzerland to pay particular special attention not to threaten the
integrity of the Statute and the independence of the Court by granting a role in
the definition of the crime of aggression to a political body, such as the
Security Council of the United Nations, intended to filter the jurisdiction of
The CSCPI had shared its expectations with the Swiss authorities in a detailed
position document. They include: the commitment to ratify the Agreement on the
privileges and immunities (APIC); the conclusion of relocation agreements for
victims and witnesses as well as enforcement of sentences agreements; and the
creation of a special unit (“war crimes unit”) such as it exists in several
European countries and which would support the effective prosecution of alleged
perpetrators of the most serious crimes. ...”
Read the Position of the Swiss Coalition for the ICC:
II. LATEST ICC-ASP RELEASES
Please note that these documents have been produced by the ICC. The Coalition
for the ICC distributes them as part of its mandate to inform member
organizations and individuals about ICC-related developments. The documents do
not reflect the views of the CICC as a whole or its individual members.
1) “Review Conference of the Rome Statute: Series of videos on YouTube
channel,” ICC Press Release, ICC-CPI-20100527-PR529
27 May 2010,
"The International Criminal Court (ICC) is launching on YouTube a series of
short educational videos on the Review Conference of the Rome Statute [at:
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F727F89EE72F96B5 ] that will be held in
Kampala, Uganda, from 31 May to 11 June, 2010.
The most relevant issues of the Conference are addressed by a number of key
actors, including the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the
President of the Assembly of the States Parties, Ambassador Christian Wenaweser,
and the ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song. The Convenor of the Coalition for
the International Criminal Court, Bill Pace, as well as representatives of
States and other personalities will explain the relevance of the Review
Conference, which constitutes a significant milestone for international justice.
The Conference represents the first opportunity for the States Parties to the
Rome Statute to make amendments to the Statute since its entry into force on 1
July 2002. It will give States and other stakeholders, such as international
organisations and NGOs, the unique chance to assess and reflect on the progress
of the Rome Statute and the ICC, and reaffirm their commitment to combat
impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,
namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The ICC YouTube channel was launched in March, 2010. The use of YouTube is the
first step of new communication efforts that will guarantee more diverse and
transparent ways of bringing developments about the ICC to the world.”
2) “Press conference by the United Nations Secretary-General,” ICC –ASP Press
release, ICC-ASP-20100527-MA69, 27 May 2010,
“The Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the
President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court, H.E. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, and the
President of the International Criminal Court, H.E. Judge Sang-Hyun Song, will
hold a press conference on Monday, 31 May, 2010 at 13:00 hours at the Munyonyo
Commonwealth Resort, Royal conference room. They will address the impact of the
Review Conference of the Rome Statute on international criminal justice as well
as the role of the United Nations in this connection....”
3) New ICC portal on the Review Conference: http://www.kampala.icc-cpi.info/
4) Official ICC YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/IntlCriminalCourt
5) ICC Factsheet on the Review Conference,
6) “Speech of ICC President Song at the Ugandan Parliament,” ICC Presidency, 27
7) "The role of the CICC and NGOs at the Review Conference," by CICC Convenor
William Pace, ICC Youtube channel, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzdzg8p9IwI
III. EU COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS ON THE REVIEW CONFERENCE
"Council conclusions on The Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court," Council of the European Union, 25 May 2010,
"...The Council adopted the following conclusions:
1. "The Council welcomes the upcoming first Review Conference of the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which will take place May
31-June 11 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. The Council expresses its hope that this
conference will be a success and will serve as a reaffirmation of global
commitment to the ICC and international criminal justice. The Council considers
that the Review Conference equally presents an exceptional opportunity to
advance the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of international
concern and support the rule of law.
2. The Council considers that the Review Conference is an important step in
the consolidation of the ICC as an effective tool of the international community
for bringing to justice those individuals bearing criminal responsibility for
genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when national courts are
unwilling or unable to prosecute them. Moreover, the Court brings real hope to
the victims of these crimes that justice will be done, including through the
right to participate in Court proceedings, for the first time in the history of
international criminal justice.
3. The Council reiterates the European Union's unwavering support to the
Court and its commitment to promote the universality and preserve the integrity
of the Rome Statute, recalling the 2003 Common Position and the 2004 Action plan
as effective instruments to achieve these objectives.
4. The Council takes note of the amendment proposals to the Rome Statute,
included in Resolution ICC-ASP/8/Res.6 adopted on 26 November 2009, as well as
the work carried out by the Assembly of States Parties to elaborate these
proposals. The Council encourages all States parties to work in a spirit of
consensus during the Conference, keeping in mind the mission that the Court is
meant to accomplish in the international community.
5. The Council takes note of the broad agenda of the Review Conference and
considers that the stocktaking exercise is an unique opportunity for the
international community to deepen support to international criminal justice. The
Council underlines the importance of debates at the conference on issues of
vital importance for the Court, such as universal adherence to the Rome Statute,
enhancement of cooperation including improvement of its mechanisms,
complementarity between national jurisdictions and the Court, the essential link
between peace and justice and the core importance of ensuring impact of the Rome
Statute system on victims and in affected communities The Council actively
supports the efforts to address the situation of the victims of the most serious
crimes, whose plight should always remain as the main concern for those working
in international criminal justice.
6. The Council reaffirms its commitment to lend constant diplomatic support
to the Court to ensure that it can effectively carry out its mandate."
IV. RELATED NEWS AND OPINIONS
1) “The Age of Accountability,” OP ED By Ban ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the
United Nations (UN Chronicle), 27 May 2010,
“Twelve years ago, world leaders gathered in Rome to establish the International
Criminal Court. Seldom since the founding of the United Nations itself has such
a resounding blow been struck for peace, justice and human rights.
On May 31, nations come together once again, this time in Kampala, Uganda, for
the first formal review of the Rome treaty. It is a chance not only to take
stock of our progress but to build for the future. More, it is an occasion to
strengthen our collective determination that crimes against humanity cannot go
unpunished — the better to deter them in the future.
As UN Secretary-General, I have come to see how effective the ICC can be — and
how far we have come. A decade ago, few could have believed the court would now
be fully operational, investigating and trying perpetrators of genocide, war
crimes and crimes against humanity across a broadening geography of countries.
This is a fundamental break with history. The old era of impunity is over. In
its place, slowly but surely, we are witnessing the birth of a new “age of
accountability.” It began with the special tribunals set up in Rwanda and the
former Yugoslavia; today, the ICC is the keystone of a growing system of global
justice that includes international tribunals, mixed international-national
courts and domestic prosecutions.
... Those who thought the court would be little more than a “paper tiger” have
been proved wrong. To the contrary, the ICC casts an increasingly long shadow.
Those who would commit crimes against humanity have clearly come to fear it.
And yet, the ICC remains a court of last resort, stepping in only when national
courts do not (or cannot) act. In March, Bangladesh became the 111th party to
the Rome Statute, while 37 others have signed but not yet ratified it. Some of
the world’s largest and most powerful countries, however, have not joined.
If the ICC is to have the reach it should possess, if it is to become an
effective deterrent as well as an avenue of justice, it must have universal
support. As Secretary-General, I call on all nations to join. Those that already
have done so must cooperate fully with the court. That includes backing it
publicly, as well as faithfully executing its orders.
The ICC does not have its own police force. It cannot make arrests. Suspects in
three of the court’s five proceedings remain free, living in impunity. Not only
the ICC but the whole of the international justice system suffers from such
disregard, while those who would abuse human rights are emboldened.
The review conference in Kampala will look for ways to strengthen the court.
Among them: a proposal to broaden its scope to include “crimes of aggression,”
as well as measures to build the willingness and capacity of national courts to
investigate and prosecute war crimes.
Perhaps the most contentious debate will focus on the balance between peace and
justice. Frankly, I see no choice between them. In today’s conflicts, civilians
are too often the chief victims. Women, children and the elderly are at the
mercy of armies or militias who rape, maim, kill and devastate towns, villages,
crops, cattle and water sources — all as a strategy of war. The more shocking
the crime, the more effective it is as a weapon.
Any victim would understandably yearn to stop such horrors, even at the cost of
granting immunity to those who have wronged them. But this is a truce at
gunpoint, without dignity, justice or hope for a better future. The time has
passed when we might talk of peace versus justice. There cannot be one without
Our challenge is to pursue them both, hand in hand. In this, the International
Criminal Court is key. In Kampala, I will do my best to help advance the fight
against impunity and usher in the new age of accountability. Crimes against
humanity are just that — crimes against us all. We must never forget.”
2) “ICC Kampala Conference to open new frontiers,” OP-ED by ICC President Judge
Sang-Hyun Song (The Observer), 26 May 2010,
“In 1998, near the end of a century marred by unspeakable atrocities,
representatives of 160 states gathered in Rome to create the world’s first
permanent international court to punish individual perpetrators of genocide, war
crimes and crimes against humanity.
Skeptics predicted failure. But by July 2002, 60 States had ratified the Rome
Statute and the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) became operational. At the
end of this month, state representatives will gather once again, this time in
They will take stock of a system that represents one of the greatest advances in
international law. Crucially, they will discuss how to build on the ICC’s
success to ensure that atrocities are reliably followed by justice and justice
by sustainable peace.
Over half the states in the world have rushed to join the Rome Statute,
including all countries of South America and the European Union, and 30 African
states, which now form the largest regional bloc. Bangladesh’s recent
ratification of the Rome Statute brought the number of treaty parties to 111.
Growing membership has expanded the ICC’s jurisdiction, which is restricted to
alleged crimes committed on the territory of a state party or by the national of
a state party.
The ICC is currently dealing with five situations: the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, Northern Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of
Sudan, and Kenya.
... The ICC Prosecutor requested the Kenya investigation, which recently began
following approval by a panel of judges. Two trials are underway, and a third is
scheduled to begin in July. Although trials only began in 2009, some independent
observers, including the United Nations, have concluded that the threat of
prosecution at the ICC may already have deterred some crimes.
Although it is obviously difficult to prove a negative, this would already be a
success. But more must be done.
Diplomats gathering in Kampala will consider amendments to the Rome Statute on
such items as the crime of aggression. The ICC takes no position on these
issues, but is engaged on the crucial stock-taking exercise that will plan the
future of international criminal justice in key areas.
Under the Rome Statute, states retain primary responsibility for investigating
and prosecuting atrocity crimes. The ICC only has jurisdiction when states are
unwilling or unable to do so; it is a court of last resort.
New efforts are needed to build the will and capacity of domestic systems so
that the promise of justice becomes more comprehensive and ICC action is
The ICC has no police or army and fully relies on states for cooperation to
enforce its arrest warrants and other decisions. Cooperation has been generally
forthcoming, but improvements would enhance judicial efficiency. In Kampala,
states can define their challenges in providing cooperation and assistance and
then actions to meet these.
The Review Conference offers an opportunity for victims and affected communities
to make their voices heard on these and other issues. How the Rome Statute
system as a whole can better serve these constituencies is itself a topic of the
States could pledge to make new contributions to the Victims Trust Fund, the
body that uses donations and judicially ordered reparations to administer
projects that benefit victims and their communities.
The court also faces ongoing challenges in ensuring that its work is understood
in affected communities – an imperative if justice is to contribute to healing
and the deterrence of crime. In Kampala, states could pledge to undertake or
support new efforts in this regard.
I look to Kampala with a sense of optimism. Ahead of the conference, states have
initiated a pledge system. They have an opportunity to make tangible and
ambitious commitments in each area of the stock-taking, and then set to work to
implement them once the conference is over.
By building on the system of justice born in Rome, states can take another bold
step to ensure that the rule of law prevails precisely when it comes to the most
horrific of crimes. If states succeed, they will instill new hope that the
present century can be markedly more peaceful than the last. “
3) “International Criminal Court belongs to us Africans,” OP ED by Wangari
Maathai , 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate and a founding board member of the Nobel
Women’s Initiative (The East African), 24 May 2010,
http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/International Criminal Court belongs%
20to us Africans/-/2558/924060/-/mpsbuez/-/
“As the world gathers in Kampala, Uganda next Monday for the first Review
Conference of the Rome Statute setting up the International Criminal Court, it
is an important time to affirm Africa’s commitment to bringing an end to the
impunity that prevails in too many countries on our continent.
The lack of true justice prevents us from moving forward to a more stable,
We have many conflicts in Africa, and many of these conflicts are actually
incited, financed, and organised by leaders. These leaders mobilise their
supporters, mostly from their communities, to go and kill and rape and destroy
members of other communities.
Eventually, as in Kenya, a shaky peace is achieved — but the same leaders who
use violence against their own people remain in power and thereby make violence
against humanity worthwhile.
Surely such leaders who commit unspeakable acts of horror cannot be trusted to
create peaceful societies? Not until those who perpetuate these gross violations
of human rights are held accountable.
In the aftermath of some of the most horrific conflicts in Africa in the 1990s —
including Rwanda and Liberia — Africans were at the forefront of advocating for
the creation of an international court.
In fact, of the current 111 states parties to the Rome Statute that founded the
International Criminal Court, 30 are African.
One of the goals of the ICC is to encourage and stimulate local and national
justice systems to reform and strengthen, so that in the future, national
systems will be able to restore justice without the intervention of the ICC.
A great strength of the Rome Statute is that it criminalises rape as a weapon of
war, along with other atrocities that specifically target women and girls. On a
continent where violence against women is practiced on a mind-boggling scale,
the ICC offers a glimmer of hope.
All of the current cases before the it — Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Central African Republic, and Sudan — include investigations of gross atrocities
that target women.
The process is as important as the outcome, because it provides the “space” for
bringing into the open discussions about how sexual crimes and other gender
violence destroy communities across Africa.
But while the ICC is catalysing healthy debate across the continent, it will
only truly work in bringing about accountability if Africans support its work.
Take the case of Sudan.
Those wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity are treated
by many African leaders as though they were misunderstood heroes. If Africans
are not ashamed of crimes against their own people, neither the ICC nor other
governments can help them.
Both at individual state level and at the level of the African Union, there is a
need to maintain support for the ICC, while simultaneously continuing to engage
in peace processes and encouraging judicial reforms continent-wide.
The African Union Panel Report on Darfur (also known as the Mbeki Report for
Thabo Mbeki’s leadership on the initiative) and the subsequent formation of a
High Level Implementation Panel are good examples of how the African Union
should proceed on issues of justice.
Released in October last year, the Mbeki Report did not set out to help
President Omar Hasan al-Bashir and others find a way out of the ICC indictment.
Instead, it stressed the importance of justice and reconciliation in Darfur by
proposing a combination of mechanisms to repair the damaged relations between
Darfurians and the state.
... Sadly, those involved in the violence are still in the government. The Waki
Commission, an international inquiry into the post-election violence, compiled
lengthy documentation and produced a sealed list of those deemed most
... the opening of ICC investigations into Kenya’s post-election violence is
therefore a welcome development that gives hope to the victims and may serve to
prevent similar events in the future.
I hope that it will not only serve as an example of justice, but that it will
inspire our national leaders to build institutions that ensure that communities
can expect justice from them.
Many detractors of the ICC claim that it is only focusing on African countries.
However, the ICC is actively engaged on other continents, and there are growing
international calls for it to initiate a case on Burma. Atrocities such as
genocide and rape as a weapon of war are not unique to Africa.
Our leaders need to support the work of the ICC in Africa, as well as other
countries – or we are not really fully participating in the global community and
what positive benefits it brings in terms for the potential for realising
I call on African leaders to take this unique opportunity at the Review
Conference that is being hosted in the heart of Africa, in Uganda, to affirm
your support for the ICC.
Let us work together to bring an end to the culture of impunity by holding those
who commit such crimes to account. Impunity not only perpetuates crimes against
women, children and other civilians, it teaches successive generations how to
continue the violence.
Let us seize this historic opportunity on our own continent to demonstrate our
commitment to peace and justice.”
4) “Amnesty International wants Kony arrested,” by Anne Mugisa (New Vision) 26
May 2010 http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/720833
“Amnesty International has urged governments in the Great Lakes Region to
implement International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants ahead of the
conference in Kampala.
...’Arrest warrants issued in 2005 by the ICC for Joseph Kony and four Lord’s
Resistance Army commanders remained in force, but were not implemented by Uganda
and other regional governments,’ Amnesty International stated in its latest
... However, information minister Kabakumba Masiko yesterday queried Amnesty
International’s motive in implying that Uganda had not made efforts to apprehend
‘Government forces are hunting for Kony. however, that does not stop other
people, including the ICC, from hunting and arresting Kony,’ Kabakumba said.
On criticisms that President Yoweri Museveni had not supported the ICC’s
indictment of Sudanese President Omar Bashir, Kabakumba asked: ‘Has President
Bashir come here since the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against him?’ ...”
5) “Int'l Court nations to ponder crimes of aggression,” by MIKE CORDER (AP), 27
“The 111 member nations of the International Criminal Court hope to finally
agree on how to prosecute illegal attacks by one state on another when they meet
next week in Uganda, the conference's leader said Thursday.
President of the Assembly of States Parties, Lichtenstein diplomat Christian
Wenaweser, told reporters during an online question-and-answer session that he
is ‘cautiously optimistic and believe that we have a good basis for a solution
that finds very wide political support.’
But top jurists and a prominent human rights organization warn that prosecuting
the as-yet-undefined crime of aggression could open the world's first permanent
war crimes tribunal to accusations of politicization.
Richard Goldstone, former prosecutor at the U.N. war crimes courts for the
former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times
that "now is not the time" for the court to tackle the thorny legal question.
‘The issues that would arise from dealing with allegations of aggression would
give ammunition to critics who claim it is a politicized institution,’ he wrote.
New York-based Human Rights Watch agreed, saying in a statement that ‘making the
crime of aggression operational could link the ICC to highly politicized
disputes between states that could diminish the court's role — and perceptions
of that role — as an impartial judicial arbiter of international criminal law.’
Debate over the crime of aggression — broadly defined as attacks by one state on
another that violate the U.N. charter — is expected to dominate the two-week
meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, organized by the court's governing
body, the Assembly of States Parties.
The meeting also aims to take stock of the accomplishments of the world's first
permanent war crimes tribunal since its founding document came into force in
2002 and seek renewed pledges of support from member states.
Human rights organizations have urged countries to use the conference to
strengthen the court, which has started just two trials since it began.
‘This major gathering of officials and activists from around the world in
Kampala is bad news for those responsible for the worst international crimes,’
Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch said in a
statement. ‘We expect governments to seize the moment to step up their
commitment to global justice.’
Aggression has been part of the Rome Statute from day one, but has never been
prosecuted because it has not yet been defined and there is no mechanism for
bringing to justice those suspected of the crime. If delegates agree to a
definition, prosecutions will only be possible from the date the statute is
amended, meaning past conflicts cannot be prosecuted...”
6) “Courting disaster?”, The Economist , 27 May 2010,
“Every time the world learns of some unspeakable outrage from a benighted battle
zone, the cry goes out that such things must never recur. That was the reaction
after the Rwandan genocide; after the ethnic cleansing, mass killing and rape
perpetrated in former Yugoslavia; after the terrible atrocities of Sierra Leone
and Congo; and after the targeting of civilians in Sudan’s Darfur region. So to
its supporters, the opening eight years ago of an International Criminal Court
(ICC) based at The Hague, ready if no one else will to arrest and try the worst
perpetrators of such crimes, was a step in the right direction. Yet as they
gather in Kampala, Uganda, on May 31st for a two-week review of the ICC’s
workings, the 111 states that accept its jurisdiction face big responsibilities.
Their hard look at the court’s role and record comes as the ad-hoc tribunals set
up to try those responsible for atrocities in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Sierra
Leone (before the ICC existed) are winding down. As their permanent replacement,
the ICC is gaining authority as the proper court of last resort for three sets
of crimes: crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Its record in
handling cases it has taken on so far will be under close scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the Kampala conference must also decide what, if anything, to do
about a fourth crime listed in the court’s founding Rome statute: aggression. A
row about that could yet drown out all the useful work delegations have been
preparing for improving the ICC’s performance and encouraging more countries to
In fact, there is much else to discuss. One criticism of the ICC has been its
slowness in bringing cases to trial. The court has issued 13 warrants so far,
including one controversially for the arrest (on charges of alleged war crimes
and crimes against humanity) of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir. However, only
four arrests have been made, and only two trials are under way. The earlier
tribunals managed to process many more cases, more quickly.
If the ICC is to move into higher gear, it needs more co-operation from all its
members and supporters.
… Spurring the construction of strong national courts is part of the ICC’s
mission. For it can act only where national courts have proved unwilling or
unable to do so. And there is wide recognition that justice works best when it
is brought as close as possible to victims, rather than dispensed in the remote
courtrooms of The Hague.
… Among the 25 observer delegations also in Kampala from countries that have not
ratified the Rome statute, America’s will be watched most closely. Unlike his
predecessor, George Bush, who was often hostile to the court, Barack Obama is in
principle readier to help, for example by digging up information that would
bring human-rights abusers and war criminals to trial and tracking down
But like other holdouts, including Russia, China and India, America wants to be
sure that the court will avoid trampling into politics. Hence the sensitivity
about prosecuting “aggression”. …
In part thanks to the court, almost every country now pays lip service at least
to the idea that some crimes can never be justified. That gives the ICC moral
force. But defining aggressors—manifest or otherwise—promises to be hugely
divisive. And even if the talks in Kampala were to patch up a compromise,
America’s Congress might then grow even more wary of the court.”
7) Reviewing Justice in Kampala,” by Claudio Guler (ISN Security Watch), 27 May
8) “Inclusion of crime of agression in ICC sought,” by Estrella Torres
(Business Mirror), 22 May 2010ý,
9) “Uganda set to host AU, ICC summits,” By Milton Olupot (New Vision), 25 May
10) “Ban Ki-moon to face-off with media,” Daily Monitor, 27 May 2010,
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an
independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International
Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization.
The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the
ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome
Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries
and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as
they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or
promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations
before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide
legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local
and other organizations in the course of their efforts.
Communications to the ICC can be sent to:
P.O. box 19519
2500 CM the Hague