A new report highlights the need for state cooperation with international courts

Monday 29 June 2020

A new report from the International Bar Association International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme calls for greater attention to be paid to the human rights of persons tried and convicted, or acquitted, by international courts and tribunals, and urges states to provide increased cooperation to such courts. Titled Seeing justice through: long-term issues in international justice, the report is a summation of an eponymous roundtable discussion of experts held in October 2019 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. It summarises the input of the event’s participants, including judges, senior officials and staff of international courts and tribunals, diplomats, civil society and academics.

Horacio Bernardes Neto, IBA President and Senior Partner at Brazilian law firm Motta Fernandes Advogados, said: ‘We call on states to support the long-term project of international justice by prioritising and actively pursuing all forms of cooperation. States can show their support for the rule of law and accountability through implementing the treaty that established the ICC, the Rome Statute into their domestic law, and signing bilateral cooperation agreements with the Court.’

The October 2019 roundtable, attended by more than 150 delegates, was opened by Mr Bernardes Neto and Ambassador Paul van den IJssel, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the ICC. A keynote speech was delivered by ICC Judge Kimberly Prost.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Van den IJssel highlighted the issues caused by a lack of state cooperation, noting that ‘insufficient voluntary cooperation by states may test fair trial considerations to their limit and could ultimately even lead to human rights violations.’ The report provides future considerations and recommendations to address shortcomings in this area, including:

  • states should support the long-term project of international justice by prioritising and actively pursuing all forms of cooperation;
  • domestic legislation is central for facilitating cooperation, and should continue to be a priority for states as part of their commitment to fair and effective international justice and the rule of law;
  • courts and tribunals should have clear and consistent guidelines that include criteria for determinations of provisional, early and conditional release, for example, in the form of practice directions. Such guidelines should also address criteria for assessing rehabilitation, and include timeframes for returning decisions on release;
  • states should review and seek to clarify any inconsistencies raised by refugee law criteria, international criminal law concepts and definitions to ensure outcomes are fair and consistent with states’ human rights obligations; and
  • international justice has long-term implications, in particular when it comes to issues that arise after acquittals and once sentences are served. States should prepare for long-term investment as part of their support for the goals of international justice, and when engaging with and creating courts to adjudicate international crimes.

In her keynote address, Judge Prost drew attention to the need for an approach tailored to the international justice system, stating: ‘There are all these issues which are naturally addressed in a national justice system... but need to be very consciously and specifically constructed in the context of an international system, particularly those which impact on the accused in the pre and during trial phases, as well as post-conviction or acquittal. These are often overlooked and forgotten as we build this global justice system.’

The report’s co-author and IBA ICC & ICL Programme Director Kate Orlovsky commenting on the focused discussion of October 2019 said: ‘The expert panellists clearly highlighted the need for more cooperation with international courts, as well as the need to resolve inconsistencies between applications of refugee law and international criminal law. To uphold human rights standards, as well as their own judgments and orders, international criminal courts and tribunals need to have the ability to order provisional, early and conditional release, and to release acquitted persons and those who have completed their sentences. These are essential forms of cooperation for states to provide.’

IBA Executive Director, Dr Mark Ellis, said: ‘States need to find the political will to make the system of international justice work. The long-term success of the ICC is preconditioned on the alignment of national law with the Rome Statute and international law in general. States have a responsibility to embrace a much broader view of their responsibility and to engage the international community on the importance of international justice and the ICC.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. Click here to download the report Seeing justice through: long-term issues in international justice. www.ibanet.org/MediaHandler?id=64aa9a65-9070-4115-87c7-1ab59c20c9bf
  2. Click here to see the programme and view the films for the event ‘Seeing Justice Through: long-term issues in international justice’ presented by the IBA ICC & ICL Programme Experts’ Roundtable on Monday 21 October 2019 at the Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands.www.ibanet.org/Conferences/Seeing-Justice-Through-long-term-issues-in-international-justice
  3. Click here to download the IBA Discussion Paper Provisional release, release at advanced stages of proceedings, and final release at international criminal courts and tribunals.www.ibanet.org/MediaHandler?id=7acf3b18-454e-4a9b-b253-b1ba5da46d03
  4. 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.

    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.

    Programme information is disseminated through regular reports, expert discussions, workshops and other events and expert legal analysis on issues relevant to our mandate.

    Based in The Hague, the IBA ICC & ICL Programme consults and interacts with court officials, civil society organisations, academics and international lawyers.
  5. 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.

For further information please contact:

Kate Orlovsky
Director, Hague Office
International Bar Association
Nassaulaan 19
2514 JT The Hague
The Netherlands

Mobile: +31 (0) 70 737 0686
Email: kate.orlovsky@int-bar.org

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4A 4AD

Mobile: +44 (0)7940 731 915
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
Fax: +44 (0)20 7842 0091

Email: romana.daniel@int-bar.org
Website: www.ibanet.org

IBA website page link for this news release:
Short link: tinyurl.com/yadb97ht

Download a PDF of the report:
Short link: tinyurl.com/y7emdqxet