On the occasion of the 13th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which takes place from 8 to 17 December 2014 in New York, FIDH sends a multi-national delegation to New York to present its position on key issues related to the functioning of the Court and its role in bringing justice and accountability to victims around the world. While this ASP session will address serious threats to the core mandate of the ICC, FIDH launches a position paper with its recommendations to States Parties and the ICC, as well as a report deconstructing "Five Myths about Victim Participation in ICC Proceedings".
« As in 2013, the ICC is faced at this ASP with proposals made by the government of Kenya that seriously undermine the Court’s independence and mandate. Not only do Kenyan authorities want to introduce immunities for sitting Heads of State and Government before the ICC, but they also requested that the ASP discusses matters that concern the Court’s handling of the Kenya cases. These attempts to interfere with the Court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence can not be tolerated » , said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President.
During the 13th session of the Assembly, States Parties will elect six new ICC judges, as well as a new ASP President, Vice-Presidents and Bureau. FIDH welcomes the future election of the first African ASP President, Sidiki Kaba, former FIDH President. At a time when a new relationship between the ICC and the African Union is needed, FIDH wishes him all the success in his new leadership that should engage States to commit to defend the effective implementation of the spirit and letter of the ICC Statute.
At this Assembly, States Parties will also devote part of its plenary session to discuss cooperation, in particular in investigations and prosecutions on sexual and gender-based crimes. "States Parties should actively participate in the discussions and consider specific measures that they will adopt to support investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes both internationally and domestically" , said Katherine Gallagher, FIDH Vice-President who will be participating in the ASP 13.
States Parties will also adopt the Court’s budget for activities of the ICC in 2015. FIDH calls upon the ASP to adopt a budget that allows the Court to respond effectively to the challenges of a growing number of preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions, so as to do the victims and accused justice.
States Parties will discuss proposals for amendments to the Rules of Procedural Evidence and to the Statute. They will provide guidance to the Court and other actors on matters including cooperation, complementarity, victims and affected communities, legal aid, and intermediaries. FIDH calls upon States parties to support the ICC efforts to combat impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to protect the integrity of the Rome Statute. States parties should also promote genuine participation of victims in ICC proceedings, that represents a historic innovation of the Statute.
FIDH will be present with a delegation led by its Vice-Presidents, Katherine Gallagher (USA) and Shawan Jabarin (Palestine), and representatives from member and partners organisations from Kenya, Ukraine, Mexico, Libya, Israel and Palestine.
FIDH will, in particular, participate as speaker and/or organiser in the following events :
CICC press conference on 9 December at 13:00
FIDH-CCL-IPHR side event on Ukraine, "Ukraine, Addressing Impunity, and the International Criminal Court”, on 11 December 2014, from 13:15 to 14:30
FIDH-CMDPDH side event on Mexico, "Accountability or International Crimes Committed in Mexico: the ICC as a Possible Remedy for Victims" on 11 December 2014, from 16:30 to 18:00,
FIDH-NPWJ side event on Libya, "Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Libya” on 12 December 2014, from 13:15 to 14:30
FIDH panel on victims’ rights "Reflecting on the ongoing structural and jurisprudential developments of victims rights at the ICC" on 15 December, from 13:15 to 14:30
Five Myths About Victim Participation in ICC Proceedings
On the eve of the 13th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) publishes a report deconstructing "Five Myths about Victim Participation in ICC Proceedings".
Over the years, FIDH has noted with concern a series of common mistakes made in relation to the purpose and exercise of victims’ rights in judicial proceedings. We have observed that only a very limited number of experts, who have direct experience in support to victims in judicial proceedings, are acquainted with the object, advantages and limitations of victim participation in the context of a criminal trial. Victim participation is a new feature in international criminal law and its contours are still in the process of being determined. Yet, we have repeatedly seen conclusions arrived at –in our view at too much of an early stage- in relation to the detriments of victim participation for ICC proceedings. We noted that observations are not always based on a direct and first-hand experience of how victim participation operates in practice, in particular in the field. They appear, rather, to be based on misconceptions or even myths.
This report collects some of the most prominent statements that we have heard and read in relation to victim participation and provides a response from our first-hand experience in support to victims of international crimes, and monitoring practice. We understand that some of our conclusions could be debatable, but we provide them with the aim to contribute to what should be a richer debate in relation to the implementation of some of most unprecedented provisions of the Rome Statute.
In developing this document, we have taken note of the discussions held by the Assembly of States Parties in relation to victims and affected communities since the Kampala Review Conference. The most recent debate was held including during the 12th session of the Assembly where a plenary dedicated to victims’ issues was organised for the first time in history. During the plenary, States Parties expressed overwhelming support to the implementation of victims’ rights and renewed their commitment to ensuring meaningful participation. In the resolution issued following the debate, States Parties recalled that they are “[d]etermined to ensure the effective implementation of victims’ rights, which constitute a cornerstone of the Rome Statute system.” When preparing this report, we have also taken into account recent initiatives that have discussed implementation of victims’ rights, including the recent expert initiative launched with the support of the Swiss government which concluded with a retreat in Glion, Switzerland. We have considered the Expert Initiative on Promoting Effectiveness at the International Criminal Court’s (Expert Initiative) report, dated May 2014. In addition, this report has been prepared at the time the ICC Registrar is undertaking a process of re-organisation and restructuring of the Registry (ReVision project). FIDH considers that the structure put at the service of victims who wish to participate in proceedings, in particular as much as it affects their legal representation, has a very substantial impact on their capacity to exercise their rights. Therefore, we have included in this report concerns and recommendations in relation to the ReVision proposals. 
The methodology used for this report consisted in collecting findings made by FIDH through its experience of support to victims of international crimes, as well as through its monitoring of the implementation of victims’ rights before the ICC. We also conducted supplementary research as well as interviews with judges, victims’ legal representatives (both external Counsel and members of the Office for Public Counsel for Victims) and other members of legal representation teams, representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other experts. FIDH expresses its sincere appreciation to those who agreed to be interviewed for this report.