The Review Conference of the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute governing the International Criminal Court would take place in Kampala, Uganda, from 31 May to 11 June 2010, Christian Wenaweser, the Assembly?s President, told correspondents today at Headquarters.
Briefing on the outcome of the eighth session of the Assembly — which took place from 18 to 26 November in The Hague, Netherlands — he said the Assembly had decided on two tracks to be discussed during the Review Conference: consideration of three amendments to the 1998 Rome Statute; and taking stock of challenges confronting the International Criminal Court and international criminal justice in general. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had invited all States ?- including States non-party to the Statute ?- to attend the Kampala conference.
He said one amendment concerned the ?crime of aggression.? Although that subject had been included in the Statute, it lacked a definition and conditions for exercise of jurisdiction. Another amendment concerned the Statute?s article 124 that gave States an opportunity to exempt themselves from the Court?s jurisdiction with respect to war crimes for a period of 12 years. The third amendment would address a proposal by Belgium to expand the list of weapons under article 8 of the Statute that dealt with war crimes. Consideration of other amendments would be deferred, so that they could be considered in a working group.
Four issues would be discussed under the topic of taking stock of challenges, he said: the issue of complementarity ?- the role of national jurisdiction and the complementary nature of the International Criminal Court to the national judiciary; cooperation of States with the Court; the way victims were affected by the work of the Court -? of particular importance as the Conference would take place in Uganda, a country subjected to an investigation by the Court; and the issue of peace and justice -? a subject topical to Darfur and Gaza.
Among other decisions taken by the eighth session in The Hague was on the Court?s budget, which would be ?105 million for 2010 -? a very moderate increase over last year?s budget. The Assembly had also decided on a permanent building in The Hague and on the establishment of a liaison office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union. Leading up to Kampala, there would be a resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties, to take place in New York for three days between 22 and 25 March 2010, where the stock-taking part of the Review Conference would be further discussed.
He announced that the Court?s Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo would brief the Security Council tomorrow, 4 December, on Darfur and would probably give a press conference afterwards.
Answering a correspondent?s question, he said the United States had been represented for the first time ever during the Assembly?s session in The Hague. Although that country?s representative had only made one statement ?- during the session?s general debate -? he saw it as a first step by the United States to re‑engage after a long pause.
The Rome Statute had placed a strong emphasis on victims, he answered another question. As the Review Conference would take place in Uganda, the Assembly thought it important to consider that item. Victims of crimes covered by the Statute would be invited to the Conference, so that participants had a unique opportunity to hear their stories firsthand.
In response to a question about protection of witnesses who felt threatened or claimed that their family was under threat, Mr. Wenaweser said that the Court provided extensive protection to witnesses. Although that protection was applied often, he could not go into details. One had to be a witness or potential witness to benefit from the protection programme.
Asked about reports that some African countries had threatened to withdraw from the Rome Statute because of the Court?s indictment of the President of the Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir, he said that the issue had not come to his attention and that it had not been a topic of discussion during the eighth session of the Assembly in The Hague.
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