Day five began with the consideration of the ICC’s 2018 programme budget request. Before ICC member states take negotiations on the budget behind closed doors in week two of ASP16, the Court’s Registrar Mr. Herman von Hebel presented the 2018 request based on the respective needs of the various ICC organs. The Chair of the ASP’s Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), Mr. Hitoshi Kozaki (Japan), followed the Registrar with the CBF’s recommendations to the ICC member states in considering the Court’s request.
The Registrar acknowledged that the ICC is a publicly-funded institution – by member states – and that the Court should be accountable for its resource use and the quality of its justice proceedings. However, he also noted that the Court itself has initiatives underway to maximize its limited resources while tackling an ever-increasing workload, including in relation to witness protection costs and maintenance of the independence and integrity of proceedings.
As a number of NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and the Ivorian Coalition for the ICC, highlighted in their General Debate statements on day five, the ICC has significant outstanding resource needs that do not seem to be adequately taken into account in ASP budget negotiations, and that investing in justice today will mean savings tomorrow in terms of global peace and development costs. And as the Burundian Coalition for the ICC pointed out, the stakes are immediate, underlining the need for ICC member states to honor their cooperation commitments, including with respect to resources, to the new ICC investigation in Burundi.
Later in the day, states gathered for the first informal consultations on the ASP’s 2017 Strengthening the ICC and the ASP resolution – otherwise known as the ‘omnibus’ resolution. Multiple consultations have taken place since the beginning of October 2017 to discuss numerous text proposals put forward by states relating to universality, cooperation, Secretariat of the ASP, legal aid, victims, and participation in the ASP among others.
An issue of particular concern this year in omnibus consultations has been the use of the language “within existing resources” – language that threatens to reaffirm zero growth policy on ICC resources and would prove detrimental to a number of ongoing initiatives within the Court to improve its efficacy in the delivery of international justice. One such initiative many have their eyes on, in particular NGOs within the framework of the Victims’ Rights Working Group, is the Court’s ongoing review of its legal aid policy.