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International Criminal Court navigates stormy waters

iccWFM – Canada has organized a consultation (October 31) for Canadian civil society representatives and Government of Canada officials, ahead of the 2016 meeting of the ICC Assembly of States Parties (ASP, Nov. 16 to 24). This year’s ASP promises to be a stormy session, as three African governments (Burundi, South Africa and Gambia) have recently announced intentions to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty. Some African Union members have promoted a narrative alleging an ICC bias against African members. All 9 situations being investigated by the Court are in Africa. What these ICC critics fail to mention is that six of these 9 situations were referred to the ICC by the states themselves. Two others were referred by the UN Security Council. Only one (Kenya) has been initiated by the Court’s Prosecutor.

Additional hot button items at this year’s ICC meetings will include a controversial publication from the Prosecutor, which sets out instances where the Court will investigate crimes that entail environmental destruction and land grabs, including by multinational corporations, which result in forced displacement of populations.

Finally, the required numbers of ICC states parties have ratified the Court’s amendment, agreed in 2010, allowing the ICC to prosecute the crime of aggression. An additional political step, the “activation” of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression is required by the ASP, some time after January 2017.

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