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The ICC > Assembly of States Parties

Governance and Oversight

ICC President Sang-Hyun Song at the tenth session of the ASP. Paulo Filgueiras/UN.

The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) is responsible for the management and oversight of the ICC, the "General Assembly" of the ICC. It is a legislative body composed of the States Parties that have joined the ICC. It meets at least once a year, either at UN Headquarters in New York or in The Hague where the Court is located.

The ASP's functions include:

  • Approval of the ICC's annual budget and financing of the Court;
  • Election and discipline of ICC judges and prosecutors;
  • Management oversight regarding the administration of the Court;
  • Establishment of subsidiary bodies, including of an Independent Oversight Mechanism;
  • Adopting amendments to the Rome Statute and the Court's Rules of Procedure and Evidence;
  • Consideration and adoption of resolutions; and
  • Consideration of questions of non-cooperation with the ICC.

In addition to the States Parties, other countries which have signed the Rome Statute or the Final Act of the 1998 Rome diplomatic conference - including the United States - may participate as observer. Non-governmental organizations, under the umbrella of the international NGO Coalition for the ICC (CICC), also have accreditation to participate in ASP sessions. AMICC has participated in all of the ASP sessions.

Reports on the ASP

Assembly of States Parties Meeting, November 20-27, 2013

The situation in Kenya and the ICC's budget were two of the most important topics covered at the ASP meeting. AMICC's convener has summarized the ASP discussion of the two topics below.

Kenya

The special attention of the ASP to the demand of the African Union and Kenya for postponing the trial of heads of state or government or excusing them from attending and for a special segment of the meeting to discuss this, grew in one part from recognizing the angry feelings of some African leaders and elites that the ICC has been discriminating against Africa by failing to take cases from elsewhere. In another part , this attention was stimulated by a fear that African countries, which make up the single largest regional group in the membership of the Court, might withdraw from it

The AU and Kenya came to The Hague enraged by having just been rebuffed for the second time in their efforts to get the Security Council to order the Court to defer action on these cases. The leadership of the ASP concluded that the segment should give Kenya and its AU associates a chance to vent and feel that they have been sympathetically heard, but not to dominate the discussion.It therefor appointed the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the UN as the moderator of a panel whose members he would choose.He had been the first president of the ASP and a central figure in the negotiations for the Rome Statute. The eventual panelists were the chair of the Drafting Committee at the conference that adopted the Rome Statute, an academic suggested by African officers of the ASP, the Legal Counsel of the AU, a Norwegian senior diplomat who had been a major player in the negotiations to create the Rome Statute, and the Attorney-General of Kenya.

The general tenor of the presentations of the panelists,except for the attorney-general, was that a way to amend the Rules of Procedure and Evidence should be found that responded to the Kenya and AU concerns without violating provisions of the RS that it "shall apply to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity as a Head of State or Government..." and "The accused shall be present during the trial." There was general agreement that the Kenya/AU first objective of postponing the trial until the defendants had left office was out of the question ( the Security Council refusal to defer almost certainly stiffened many spines on this). The panelist then turned to the possibility of giving "shall be present" a broad interpretation in the Rules.The panelists also recalled that the Kenya accuseds all voluntarily came to the court in response to summonses.

Following the panel, a working group on amendments continued to negotiate strenuously on new or amended Rules on this issue. It eventually produced three such changes which the ASP adopted. All of the changes are additions to a Rule about motions by any party to the Trial Chamber about the conduct of a trial. All three apply only where an accused has appeared voluntarily in response to a summons. The first two permit the accused to make a written request to be present through video technology or representation by counsel during parts or parts of his or her trial. They require the Trial Chamber to rule "on a case-by-case basis."

The third and most problematic change permits an accused "mandated to fulfill extraordinary public duties at the highest national level" to request the Trial Chamber to be excused and be represented by counsel. The Trial Chamber must consider expeditiously and whether alternative measures are inadequate, the interests of justice are served and the rights of the accused are protected. The Chamber's ruling would be subject to review at any time.

Kenya Vice President and accused Ruto has already on December 16 filed a motion under the third amendment asking that he be excused for all of his trial.The motion specifically says that this amendment is a compromise between two competing "legitimate" norms of the conduct of trials and the needs of the State. It claims that the request meets all of the conditions of the amendment.The Prosecutor has appealed the trial Court's approval of this motion.

Budget

The session opened under the threat that countries with the largest assessed payments to the Court would insist on a 2014 budget with zero growth over 2013. With accounting for inflation, this would have meant a reduction in the real value of the budget just as the ICC had begun to function completely with a full caseload.The Court and many of its supporters warned that zero growth would probably mean that it would not be able to meet its Rome Statute responsibilities and standards for prosecutions and trials. In the end, after a contentious debate, the ASP approved a slightly increased budget of 121,656,200 euros or about $163,019,000.The increase over 2013 was 6,536,00 euros. The largest portions of this increase went to the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry.These are the parts of the Court most important to its operations.

The Court and most of civil society concluded that this increase was just enough for the ICC to meet its Rome Statute obligations in carrying its current workload. However, should the Court have a large increase in its 2014 workload ( for example, if several of its outstanding warrants should suddenly be executed at the same time), it would not be able to manage this without more money.Since several countries with large assessed payments vowed to fight again for zero growth at the next ASP session, the danger of serious ICC under funding remains.

2010 Kampala Review Conference

In May and June 2010, the International Criminal Court held a Review Conference, convened by the Secretary-General of the UN, to assess the performance of the Court and consider amendments to the Rome Statute. This is required by Article 123 of the Rome Statute. The conference took place in Kampala, Uganda over ten working days during May 31-June 11.

The 2010 ICC Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda. Harrison Davis/CICC.

The Review Conference was the first opportunity for the ICC States Parties and other nations to consider amendments to the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, including by amending the Rome Statute to activate the Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression by defining the crime and setting out the conditions for the exercise of the Court's jurisdiction over it. The conference also reviewed but did not delete Article 124, a transitional provision which permits new States Parties upon joining the ICC to declare their non-acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction with respect to war crimes for a period of seven years. The Review Conference also included a "stocktaking" element which assessed the Court's performance as well as the emerging system of international criminal justice. This included suggestions for improvements to the Court that do not require amendments to the Rome Statute.

As a signatory of the Final Act of the 1998 Rome diplomatic conference which adopted the Rome Statute, the United States is entitled as of right to participate as an observer in the Assembly of States Parties as well as in the Review Conference. It participated in all aspects of the conference and, beginning in November 2009, the preparations for it. Learn more about the US and the ICC.

Reports on the Review Conference

Background on the US and the Crime of Aggression