IBA urges states to increase support and re-sources for the International Criminal Court

Monday 5 December 2022

The International Bar Association (IBA) urges states to increase support and resources for the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the commencement of the 21st annual session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) – the Court's management oversight and legislative body composed of representatives of the states that have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute (the treaty that established the ICC).

IBA President Sternford Moyo said: ‘The workload of the ICC is growing significantly to meet global demands for international justice, including investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Palestine, Ukraine and Venezuela. The IBA urges the ASP to increase its budget and intensify cooperation and support for the effective functioning of the Court.’

In advance of the ASP, the IBA International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme issued Priorities and Recommendations for the 21st Session of the ASP, which  calls on the 123 States Parties to support a major increase in the Court’s 2023 budget so that the Court can implement its additional workload. The Court has requested an increase of €32m, however, the Assembly’s Committee on Budget and Finance has recommended that the additional resources should be reduced to €25.5m. The IBA ICC & ICL paper asserts that arbitrary reductions would undermine the functioning of the Court.

IBA Executive Director Dr Mark Ellis commented. ‘The decisions taken this week are crucial for the effectiveness of the ICC and will determine the extent of its contribution towards ensuring justice for victims of atrocity crimes. The IBA encourages States Parties to affirm their commitment to the cause of international justice and their determination to end impunity by supporting an increase in the ICC’s resources, redoubling efforts to promote state cooperation and supporting initiatives to strengthen the performance of the Court.’

The IBA’s paper also highlights challenges faced by the Court in securing state cooperation with its investigations and cases that threaten the Court’s ability to deliver justice for victims. More States Parties are urged to enact national laws providing full cooperation with the Court and to enter into agreements with the Court ensuring cooperation on complex issues, including interim release, victims and witness relocation and enforcement of sentences. It is also recommended that the Assembly establish new mechanisms to coordinate cooperation by national authorities and promote specific types of cooperation including arrests and tracing assets.

This year the ASP continues to assess more than 350 recommendations made by the 2020 Independent Expert Review of the ICC aimed at strengthening the performance of the Court.  The IBA has recommended that the ASP give particular support to implementing measures to strengthen the voice of the defence in the Court through the establishment of a Defence Office to promote gender equality and geographical balance in the staff of the Court, and to strengthen the process of electing ICC officials, including by setting up a permanent system for vetting all candidates for ‘high moral character’ – a statutory requirement for the positions of judges, prosecutor, deputy prosecutors, and the registrar of the ICC.

Furthermore, the IBA is concerned that despite the recommendations of the Experts to fully reform the ICC’s legal aid policy, little progress has been made as some states make unrealistic demands to develop the new policy within existing resources. This leaves in force an outdated policy that provides inadequate resources to defence counsel and legal representatives for victims to conduct their work and undermines the fundamental principle of equality of arms that is essential to fair trials. At a time when the ASP is considering major increases in resources for the Office of the Prosecutor, the IBA has urged States Parties to support the establishment of a new and adequately resourced legal aid policy without further delay.

The Assembly of States Parties takes place over six days from 5–10 December 2022 at the World Forum Convention Center, The Hague, Netherlands.


Notes to the Editor

  1. The IBA’s Priorities and Recommendations for the 21st Session of the ASP draw from the 2021 publication Strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute System: A Guide for States Parties. In it the IBA ICC &ICL sets out a comprehensive set of recommendations for States Parties individually and collectively through the ASP to support the effective functioning of the Court, and specifically to strengthen domestic legislation and cooperation with the ICC.
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.
  3. The IBA commenced the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme in 2005. The Programme monitors issues related to fairness and equality of arms at the ICC and other Hague-based war crimes tribunals and encourages the legal community to engage with the work of these courts. The IBA’s work includes thematic legal analysis of proceedings, and ad hoc evaluations of legal, administrative, and institutional issues which could potentially affect the rights of defendants, the impartiality of proceedings and the development of international justice.
  4. The Programme also acts as the interface between the Courts and the global legal community. As such, special focus is placed on monitoring emerging issues of particular relevance to lawyers and collaborating with key partners on specific activities to increase engagement of the legal community on ICC and ICL issues.

    Based in The Hague, the IBA ICC & ICL Programme consults and interacts with court officials, civil society organisations, academics, and international lawyers.

Please direct enquiries/interview requests to

Ilse van den Bergh
Programme Coordinator, The Hague Office,
IBA ICC & ICL Programme
International Bar Association 

Nassaulaan 19
2514 JT The Hague
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0) 70 737 0686
Email: Ilse.vandenbergh@int-bar.org
Website: www.ibanet.org/ICC-ICL-Programme

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association

5 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1LG
United Kingdom
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094   
Email: romana.daniel@int-bar.org          
Website: www.ibanet.org 


Website page link for this news release:
Short link: tinyurl.com/3kkaeaka
Full link: www.ibanet.org/IBA-urges-states-to-increase-support-and-resources-for-the-International-Criminal-Court