IBA report supports establishment of a Study Group to review and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the ICC

In a report published today, the International Bar Association (IBA) endorsed the establishment of a Study Group to review the level of efficiency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and strengthen its institutional framework. The IBA report noted that since the Court’s inception, the issue of its efficiency and effectiveness has been a matter of much interest and often concern. The issue assumed greater significance following the suspension of the ICC’s first trial against Congolese citizen Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – the second since its commencement in January 2009 – prompting criticism about the protracted pace of judicial proceedings at the Court.

The new IBA/ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme report Enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of ICC proceedings: a work in progress discusses the steps that the ICC has taken to enhance efficiency in its judicial and administrative processes and to maximise its effectiveness; as well as examining what challenges remain. The IBA placed particular emphasis on judicial and policy developments at the Court from July to November 2010, the period under review, but also considered other relevant developments outside of the reporting period where appropriate.

Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director, stated: ‘Structured dialogue on how to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the ICC is a positive development for the Court. There is no doubt that much has been achieved; however, every effort to strengthen the Court’s ability to fulfil its mandate must be welcomed and fully supported.’
While welcoming the proposed Study Group, the report cautioned that its mandate was too broad. The Chair of the Group was encouraged to delineate the precise scope of the review, particularly of judicial activities, and ensure that this is communicated to the Court and all relevant stakeholders including civil society organisations and academics.

Four key issues which have an impact on the efficiency levels and effectiveness of the ICC are identified in the report, namely:

  • Judicial determination of foundational procedural issues are on-going and have a significant impact on the efficiency of proceedings;
  • Measures to streamline processes and clarify roles are still at the initial implementation phase, making it difficult to fully assess impact; 
  • Some challenges to efficiency and effectiveness are structural and may require textual amendment; and 
  • States play a major role in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the ICC

The report recommends that the Study Group take into account a number of key issues as part of the process of review including: the impact of victims’ participation on the efficient conduct of ICC proceedings; the role of the Pre-Trial Chambers; the absence of subpoena powers at the ICC and the overlapping roles of the ICC and the Assembly of States Parties regarding management oversight of the Court.


For further information please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
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About the proposed Study Group

On 10 December 2010 during the meeting of its ninth session, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP or the Assembly), the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s governing body, adopted a Resolution to establish a Study Group on Governance tasked with leading discussions on efficiency and other relevant operational issues at the Court. The Study Group will be established within The Hague Working Group (HWG), a subsidiary mechanism of the Assembly, for a period of one year and its mandate includes conducting a ‘structured dialogue between States Parties and the Court with a view to strengthening the institutional framework of the Rome Statute System and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Court while fully preserving its judicial independence’.

The Court has, for a number of years, actively taken steps to enhance its level of efficiency. In 2008, prompted in part by a report of the Committee on Budget and Finance, the subsidiary mechanism of the ASP responsible for budgetary matters, the Court formally commenced a process to review the efficiency of its judicial and administrative processes. The process has reportedly, to date, resulted in significant improvements in the efficiency levels of the Court in key areas. In an effort to address the risks associated with lack of clarity in the roles of respective organs of the ICC, the Court also prepared a Report on measures to increase clarity on the responsibilities of the different organs (Governance report), which describes the relevant aspects of the Corporate Governance framework and the measures that it has taken or intends to take to address the risks. Notwithstanding notable achievements to date in this regard, issues of concern regarding the efficiency of ICC proceedings remain.

The Study Group on Governance was established pursuant to the oversight mandate of the Assembly under Article 112 of the Rome Statute and constitutes an important step towards enhancing the level of efficiency of the Court.

About the Assembly of States Parties

The Assembly of States Parties (ASP or the Assembly) is the management oversight and legislative body of the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is established by the Rome Statute and composed of representatives of the States – currently 114 – that have ratified and acceded to the Statute. Each State Party has one vote. States which have signed the Rome Statute may attend meetings of the Assembly as observers.

The ASP decides by consensus or by vote on a number of important issues including the adoption of ICC normative texts and of the budget, as well as the election of judges; the Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutor. The Assembly does not have the jurisdiction to settle disputes concerning the Court's judicial functions as these must be resolved by a decision of the Court itself.

Background on the IBA’s ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme

In October 2005, the IBA started its ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

The monitoring component follows and reports on the work and proceedings of the ICC, focusing in particular on issues affecting the fair trial rights of the accused; the implementation of the 1998 Rome Statute, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and related ICC documents, in the context of relevant international standards. The outreach component of the programme works in partnership with bar associations, lawyers and civil society organisations disseminating information and promoting debate on the ICC in different jurisdictions across the globe. The IBA facilitates a proactive role for bar associations and lawyers in the implementation of the Rome Statute in key countries.

The programme produces an e-Magazine for lawyers as well as periodic reports detailing the key findings and recommendations, which are made available to the Court, IBA members, civil society and the public at large. The IBA has a dedicated section on its website which contains full information on the ICC Monitoring and Outreach Programme, including programme descriptions, agendas and reports.