ASP DAY 5: NGO’S Enter The Fray TO Speak…
The General Debate resumed and concluded on Friday, with civil society taking the floor after the remainder of ICC member states, observer states, international organizations, and representatives of the legal profession (International Criminal Court Bar Association) delivered their statements.
Among remaining member states to speak were Nigeria, which noted that the ICC is becoming an increasingly relevant global institution for peace and development; and Tunisia, one of three member states from the Middle East-North Africa region, which called international justice “a vehicle to lasting peace.”
Observer states Ukraine, China, Iran, and the United States (US) also made statements before the Assembly. The representative from Ukraine, which is not yet a member state but has accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC over the situation in its territory, noted that the state is working to remove legal obstacles to ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute. Ukraine additionally declared support for activation of the Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over the crime of aggression as well as proposed war crimes amendments.
The US, meanwhile, rejected any exercise of jurisdiction over US personnel absent the government’s consent or a UN Security Council referral, including in any potential investigation into US troop conduct in Afghanistan, among other alleged crimes.
Civil society took the floor at the end of the General Debate. The Coalition’s Convenor, Mr. William Pace, opened the civil society segment by insisting that the ICC is one of very few alternatives capable of filling gaps that the Security Council has left in global peace and security, and reminding that states must be proactive rather than reactive.
Both the Burundian Coalition for the ICC, which later presented its views during a dedicated side event, and Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ) underlined the significance of the ICC for upholding human rights and rule of law in domestic jurisdictions. KPTJ called for the South African government to revisit its decision to pursue withdrawal from the Rome Statute, while adding that “Burundi may have left, but the door for its return is not shut.”
Other NGOs to speak during the General Debate were International Federation for Human Rights together with Al-Haq; Human Rights Watch; the American Bar Association; and the Moroccan, Nigerian, and Ivorian national Coalitions for the ICC.