IBA encouraged by the progress of ICC’s first case but says Court still faced with many obstacles

The International Bar Association (IBA) says that it is encouraged by the progress made in the case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first accused to be tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The IBA notes however, that the ICC still faces many obstacles including negative perceptions that it is targeting Africa.

The IBA’s findings are detailed in its latest ICC monitoring report entitled ‘First Challenges: An assessment of landmark developments at the International Criminal Court’. The report looks at developments in the Lubanga trial, the arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir and the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba, the ICC’s first from the Central African Republic. Among its findings, the report notes that public access to the Lubanga trial is often hindered by the number of closed session hearings, highlighting the challenges faced by ICC judges in guaranteeing the defendant’s right to open justice without compromising the security of witnesses who testify.

In relation to the Al-Bashir arrest warrant, the IBA notes that criticism of the ICC’s alleged bias against Africa and negative views about the impact of ICC proceedings on local peace processes have increased significantly since the warrant was issued. The report encourages the African Union (AU), as a regional leader and African States Parties to fully support the work of the ICC on the continent by collaborating with the Court to combat impunity for crimes affecting thousands of African victims.

In this regard, Justice Richard Goldstone former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda comments: ‘This IBA report is an important reminder of how critically dependent the ICC is on the support of states and regional organisations such as the African Union. The ICC is a judicial institution which functions in a political environment but cannot be subject to political manipulation. The issuing of arrest warrants without fear or favour, though controversial, is in fact what was expected of the Court when it was established. Regional leaders such as the African Union as well as States Parties to the Rome Statute should not allow political considerations to stand in the way of ensuring full accountability for serious crimes.’

The report was launched on 9 June during a ceremony at the South African embassy in The Hague hosted by the South African Ambassador to the Netherlands, His Excellency Mr Peter Goosen. Former ICC President, Judge Philippe Kirsch and Justice Richard Goldstone, gave the keynote addresses to a distinguished gathering of guests including ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song and Ms Silvana Arbia, ICC Registrar.

During his keynote speech Judge Kirsch noted: ‘The theme of this IBA report “First Challenges” is particularly timely. To its credit, the ICC has strictly adhered to its judicial functions, and conducted proceedings with full respect for the rights of victims and defendants. While there have been teething problems, the system works. The Court has consistently demonstrated its commitment to fulfilling its judicial mandate and its deterrent effect has begun to be felt in some areas. However, one major challenge is that the Court is founded on ambitious objectives without the independent means to achieve them. Its reliance on states to enforce decisions and facilitate investigations is a clear example. The ICC’s success depends on our collective efforts to ensure that the achievements made so far resist the problems that will inevitably occur along the way.’

Click here to download the report ‘First Challenges: An assessment of landmark developments at the International Criminal Court’ from the IBA website.


For further information please contact:

Lorraine A Smith
IBA Programme Manager (ICC)

International Bar Association
ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme
Peace Palace
Carnegieplein 2
2517 KJ The Hague
The Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)70 302 2859
Fax: +44 (0)207 691 6544
Email : lorraine.smith@int-bar.org

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office

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