Friday, October 28, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #49

As we preliminarily reported in our last update, Gaddafi, former President of Libya wanted by the ICC, was killed last week by provisional government forces. Reportedly the ICC has now turned its focus to the remaining two indictees, the former Chief of Police Abdullah al-Senussi and Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam. Is is reported that Abdullah fled through Niger and is now hiding in the Malian desert. A senior official in Libya's transitional government has stated that both suspects are currently in talks with the ICC about potentially handing themselves over to the Court. The Prosecutor has confirmed that the ICC is in indirect talks with Gaddafi's son over surrendering himself. In other ICC news, on Tuesday the short list of candidates for the next ICC Prosecutor was released. The list is comprised of four individuals including Fatou Bensouda, current ICC Deputy Prosecutor hailing from Gambia, as well as candidates from Canada, Tanzania and Britain. In the Kenya case, the ICC judges have decided to take a concurrent decision of whether to pursue trials against the six post-election violence suspects out of concern for the protection of victims and witnesses. The judges did not specify the date they will release their decision. Reportedly a number of US Senators are putting pressure on the US government to secure a UN Security Council referral to the ICC for potential crimes against humanity perpetrated by Syria's President Assad. In other news, Zimbabwe's Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs has said the nation has rejected ratification of the Rome Statute. Reportedly the reason cited for this rejection was the belief that the Court is a tool wielded by western powers against dictators. Finally, earlier this week Italian jurist and architect of the modern international criminal justice framework Antonio Cassese passed away at age 74. He was the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and later served as president of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Photo credits: Voice of America & Reuters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

AMICC Convener Addresses International Law Weekend in New York

(L to R) AMICC Convener John Washburn, CICC Convener William Pace, ICC President Sang-Hyun Song and NYU Professor Jennifer Trahan. Photo by Amber Lewis.

On October 22, AMICC Convener John Washburn addressed the American Branch of the International Law Associaiton's (ABILA) International Law Weekend at Fordham Law School. Washburn and the other panelists addressed the various challenges facing the International Criminal Court. He identified three issues relevant to AMICC's advocacy in the United States intended to rebut the criticism of ICC opponents:

  • Adequate oversight of the Court by its governing body, the Assembly of States Parties.

  • Sufficient funding for the ICC.

  • Upholding equality of arms and the rights of accused persons.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #48

Recently reports surfaced from Libya's transitional government that Gaddafi, who is wanted by the ICC, has been killed in a rebel attack. The truth of these reports has yet to be confirmed, and the ICC has not yet released a statement on the matter. In other ICC news, the Prosecutor reportedly is planning to investigate up to six individuals in the Ivory Coast war crimes probe, which was recently authorized by ICC judges. Ocampo has expressed his intention to investigate the most responsible on both sides of the deadly post-election conflict that killed approximately 3,000 individuals.
In the Sudan case, President Bashir who is wanted by the ICC on counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes reportedly visited Malawi last weekend for a summit. Although Malawi is a member state to the ICC it failed to perform its obligation to arrest Bashir. The ICC has written to Malawi asking it to submit its "observations" on the visit before a November 11 deadline. Malawi has defended its action saying that it was not its business to perform the arrest. Last week Cape Verde ratified the Rome Statute, to become effective on January 1, 2012. The United Nations has confirmed that Cape Verde is the 119th nation to become a member state of the International Criminal Court. Finally, last week the Office of the Prosecutor released a statement saying that it is closely monitoring the Liberia presidential elections. Photo credit: NY Times.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Poll Shows More than Eight out of Ten American Voters Support U.S. Engagement at the United Nations

Majority of Americans Oppose Anti-UN Bill in Congress; Support Full Payment of Dues to UN and UN Peacekeeping Operations
October 12, 2011
New bipartisan public opinion research released today by the United Nations Foundation and its sister organization, the Better World Campaign, shows that there is strong support for the United Nations. The majority of Americans said they oppose the proposed legislation in Congress that would cut United States’ funding to the United Nations by 50%, and end funding to UN agencies that respond and take action after a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis, such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
The survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates found that more than eight out of ten voters (86%) say it is important that the United States maintain an active role within the United Nations. Voters across the political spectrum overwhelmingly believe that the U.S. should pay our dues to the UN (64%) and UN peacekeeping operations (71%) on time and in full.
"This polling once again shows that Americans do not want to see the United States go back into debt at the United Nations. While misguided legislation in Congress would cause America to forfeit our leadership at the UN, we see time and time again that the majority of voters across the political spectrum believe the U.S. should have an active role within the UN," said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. "At a time when the United Nations is more relevant than ever in addressing the world’s greatest peace and security challenges, this survey is evidence that voters believe in the value of the United Nations to American interests."
Key highlights of the research include:
  • Voters overwhelmingly believe it is important the United States maintain an active role within the United Nations.
  • More than eight out of ten voters (86%) say it is important that the United States maintain an active role within the United Nations, with a substantial majority (65%) saying it is ‘very important’ the United States do so.
  • Americans support the United States paying our dues to the United Nations on time and in full. Sixty-four percent of voters (64%) favor the United States paying our dues to the United Nations on time and in full, while 31% oppose.
  • Majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats favor paying our UN dues on time and in full.
  • There continues to be even greater support for the United States paying our peacekeeping dues to the United Nations on time and in full (71% favor/25% oppose).
  • This is also true regardless of party. Majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats continue to favor paying our peacekeeping dues to the United Nations on time and in full.
  • A majority of Americans (55%) opposes proposed legislation that would cut United States’ funding of the United Nations, while 39% favor it. Intensity matters, and there is a higher level of strong opposition (37% strongly oppose) to this proposed legislation compared to strong support (21% strongly favor).
  • Majorities of Democrats and Independents oppose the proposed legislation, while a small majority of Republicans support the proposed legislation.
  • There continues to be significant recognition of the contemporary relevance of the United Nations. More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) believe the United Nations is still needed today.
  • Majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats agree with this assessment.
  • Consistent with our past tracks, a majority of Americans perceive the United Nations as an “only somewhat effective” organization (51%).
  • Significant majorities of Americans overwhelmingly believe the United States should be supportive of all of the 17 UN programs we tested. The top four programs were:
  • Helping to reverse the spread of HIV and malaria and other major diseases around the world.
  • Improving the access to safe drinking water in poor, developing countries.
  • Working to better the lives of adolescent girls around the world by helping assure girls have access to quality education and health care, adequate livelihoods, and freedom from violence and harmful practices.
  • Improving the health of women and children in poor, developing countries by making sure they have access to vaccines and maternal health care.
The research was undertaken by a bipartisan polling team led by Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies and Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates. The poll was conducted among 900 registered voters nationwide from October 1-4, 2011.
You can read the executive summary of the survey HERE. View the complete polling data HERE. For more information about UN Peacekeeping, please visit:

ICC in the Media, Update #47

This week the ICC judges concluded the confirmation of charges hearings for the six Kenya post-election violence suspects. The defense counsel reportedly asked the court to disregard the prosecution's evidence and decide against the cases going to trial. Presiding Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova used the opportunity to urge adequate protection of witnesses following the hearings after reports surfaced last week that the family of a witness had been threatened. The International Criminal Court has made available the following videos covering both sets of confirmation of charges hearings:

Reportedly the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber judges will rule in 90 days whether or not the suspects will go to trial on charges of crimes against humanity. In the meantime, lawyers for the government have submitted a request to gain access to all the prosecution's evidence (including all confidential and unredacted materials) to aid the government in investigating and prosecuting domestically perpetrators of the post-election violence, including the ICC suspects. This application has been criticized by some as yet another attempt to cede jurisdiction from the ICC. In the ongoing Bebma trial, reportedly this week the defense submitted evidence that Bemba tried to stop the perpetration of crimes by his officers upon learning that they were being committed. Further witness testimony and defense cross-examination are scheduled to continue this week. In other news, human rights activists in Mexico are reportedly planning to submit a complaint to the ICC against President Felipe Calderon, other government officials and drug cartel leaders for widespread abuses in the country's drug war. Despite the fact that Mexico is a state party to the ICC, scholars have expressed doubt that such a case could succeed at the ICC. Photo credit: The L.A. Times.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #46

This week the International Criminal Court has appeared in a variety of news stories. Recently ICC judges approved the Prosecutor's application to open an official investigation into the Ivory Coast post-election violence that occurred in late 2010. The judges provided Ocampo with instructions to investigate crimes committed between 2002-2010, and to report back with his findings in a month's time. Reportedly, 3000 people were killed in the violence and at least 100 individuals were raped. In the Kenya case, the second set of ICC confirmation of charges hearings continue at the Hague. Last week we mentioned that suspect Uhuru Kenyatta took the witness stand, as depicted in the following video.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

An Interview with Luis Moreno-Ocampo

Luis Moreno-Ocampo in New York/Photo by Hannah Dunphy
By Hannah Dunphy
Published on

I’m sitting with Luis Moreno Ocampo in an uptown Manhattan conference room. Ocampo is framed by his press secretary and bodyguard. Otherwise the large room is empty. With both hands, Ocampo delicately slides my recording device towards him on the gleaming mahogany table. He leans over it intently, as if he were examining evidence.
To many, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, is known simply as ‘The Prosecutor.’ His mission at the ICC is not unlike that of a superhero: to seek out the world’s most notorious evildoers, and obtain justice for their crimes. With active cases in six of the world’s most deadly conflicts, and arrest warrants for two sitting heads of states, Ocampo has presided over the launch of the first major global institution of the 21st century, and the most ambitious international legal project in the history of mankind.
Like other caped crusaders, there are movies about ‘The Prosecutor.’ The latest, Prosecutor, by Canadian filmmaker Barry Stevens, has brought Ocampo from the United Nations for the film’s opening night at New York’sPaley DocFest. Prosecutor follows Ocampo as he visits war-torn communities, negotiates with heads of state, coaches his legal team on how to behave in the courtroom, and strolls introspectively through the misty cobblestone streets of The Hague. The prosecutor’s quest for justice looks glamorous at points: he even gets to wear a costume, a kind of cape in the form of the legal robes of the ICC. The opening scene of the movie shows him disembarking from a UN helicopter and striding towards a dusty, remote African village, wearing a white linen suit.
But unlike the Justice Brigade, Ocampo’s fights aren’t just with super-villains. As the first person to ever hold the position of chief prosecutor at the ICC, Ocampo has had the daunting task of convincing the world that an idea, a hope, can become a reality: that a permanent, independent criminal court could have universal jurisdiction for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
From day one, the prosecutor has had to battle for this idea at every turn, and field attacks from almost every side. The Court survived the Bush administration’s harsh policies, which forbade other countries from cooperating with the Court, threatening to stop suspend foreign military aid to those that would not conform. And the African Union has come to balk at the Court’s perceived agenda to only prosecute Africans. Prominent human rights NGOs are still criticizing the Court for not doing enough. In Prosecutor, we see Ocampo come under fire from a BBC anchor for the length of time and money it has taken to set up the Court, which, to this day, has yet to convict a single suspect.
new prosecutor will be selected by the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC come December, and I’m eager to ask Ocampo about how he feels as his term as prosecutor draws to a close. Ocampo, though, stays steadily focused on process, portraying a decisive, albeit weary confidence in the slow progress the institution has made along the way. Despite some characteristic eccentricities and the glare of the public spotlight, he is eager to deflect personal questions back to the Court itself.
It seems then that the film, Prosecutor, is appropriately named: unlike Ocampo’s superhero moniker, ‘The Prosecutor’, whatever contribution Ocampo has made, the heroic arc in this story isn’t found in one man’s journey, but in the world’s quest for justice, embodied by the extraordinary global accomplishment of the ICC.

Hannah Dunphy for IJCentral: Tell me about this film, Prosecutor.  Why do you think people should see it?
Luis Moreno Ocampo: The movie gets people to understand there is an institution that is working to do justice for the worst crimes, and for the victims. There are 2.4 billion citizens in 118 states parties of the Rome Statute, so we are working for them. So, how can I reach them? I need a movie. I hope that some of them see the movie. Interestingly, movies can help [people] to understand what happened, you know? The Nuremburg trial was very important but people changed their mind with the movie about the Nuremburg trial.

IJC: Let’s talk about some of the cases before the Court. Libya has been in the news, and as of today, Colonel Qaddafi is still at large. What do you say to the NTC (National Transitional Council) when they make statements about putting Gaddafi on trial in Libya? 

LMO: Today, the only arrest warrant for Qaddafi has been issued by the International Criminal Court. There is no arrest warrant from a national judge in Libya. Eventually, if they have a case in Libya, they should present the case and the judges of the ICC will decide. But today, the only case is in the ICC.

IJC: Do you think the justice system as it exists today in Libya would have the capacity to try someone like Qaddafi?
LMO: We’ll see, I don’t know. We don’t like to predict. 

IJC: The Kenyan case is just getting started, and last week there was a lot of attention paid to the start of the confirmation of charges hearings. As the first case initiated through propio motu, do you feel more personally connected to seeing justice in the Kenyan case?
LMO: Kenya is important not because it’s propio motu. Kenya is important because there was massive violence, and the crimes were committed by political leaders to gain or retain political power. And the risk is that they could do the same in the coming election in 2012. So that’s why the investigations in Kenya are critically important to justice for Kenyans, and also to start building Kenya, so it’s critically important for Africa. And to also send a message: you cannot commit atrocities to gain or retain power. That’s the importance of the Kenyan case. And for Kenyans, I think it’s incredibly interesting for them to see their leaders in the dock, answering questions, trying to explain what happened. I think that’s really important.

IJC: With the General Assembly in session, the question of Palestinian statehood and the ICC is on everyone’s minds. I know that OTP- your offices- had looked into alleged crimes in Gaza. Do you plan to issue any kind of report of your findings in the way that the OTP had done for Colombia and Afghanistan?
LMO: In Palestine, what we are doing is reviewing if they are a state- according to the Rome Statute, to accept jurisdiction. We are discussing this with the Palestinians. Now the issue is also discussing with the Security Council or maybe the General Assembly, so the issue will probably be solved there. What we did in the past two years was receive briefings from Palestine and discuss with them, and many, many other actors who are involved in the debate about if the Court should recognize statehood to accept jurisdiction or not.

IJC: So the issue of statehood would have to be resolved before you issued any kind of statement on alleged crimes in Palestine.
LMO: Yes.

IJC: I think most people would say that you were an incredibly instrumental figure in getting this institution to where it is today. As your term comes to a close, are there things that you look back on that you regret? Is there anything you would have done differently if you knew then what you know now about being the Prosecutor of the ICC?
LMO: When I arrived, I was thinking that my responsibility was to build an institution, and I should do it through selecting the best people I can, defining [policies] clearly, explaining what we are doing to states, NGOs, the international community and to citizens, and then, doing the job. That’s what we did. And we learned by walking. But what I can say is that the Court is working on exactly the type of crimes it was created for, and also keeping consensus about the Court, because the Court has no frivolous cases, and the Court is focused on the most responsible individuals. 
And I hope they know that we’re close in the first trial! For me, it was important to finish some trials. I was thinking that I would finish my trials two years ago but – OK- it will be this year. But we are finishing trials and then we are going to a next phase, including reparations, [inaudible], and this conviction of Lubanga [will help with] educational programs around the world to ensure there are no more child soldiers. So basically I feel we put the system in motion, and I will give it to my successor [working]. So I feel… I leave my piece, and I pass it on.

IJC: What do you think is important for the next prosecutor to be able to do for the Court?
LMO: Whether it’s a “her” or “him,” I don’t know- there will be new challenges. I finish on June 16, 2012 and then, new prosecutor, new challenges, new decisions.

IJC: What’s next for you after you finish?
LMO: Let me finish this first, and then we can talk!