This blog post originally appeared on Justice in Conflict.
Gabriele Chlevickaite is Assistant Professor at the VU Amsterdam and serves on the CICJ board. Gabriele worked in the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in 2014-2017, and Independent Expert Review in 2020. All information contained in this article is drawn from public sources. The article reflects the author’s personal views.
It is hard to keep pace with the changes at the International Criminal Court. Just over the past year, a whirlwind of swearings-in introduced six new judges, the President and Vice-Presidents of the Court as well as of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), and the Chief Prosecutor of the OTP. On top of all that, the ASP is resolutely continuing with the ‘Review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute System’ (Review), building upon the Independent Expert Review (IER) of last year. In anticipation of the upcoming ASP meeting in December, where the Review process will presumably make a decent feature (it is point 12 on the preliminary agenda), where are we now, and what can we expect in this regard from the 20th session of the ASP?
The Review Mechanism and Comprehensive Action Plan
The Final Report of the IER sets forth 384 recommendations addressing court-wide matters (i.a. governance, human resources, budget), organ-specific matters (Chambers, OTP, Registry), and external governance (i.a. ASP, oversight mechanisms). The recommendations are ‘aimed at assisting the ASP and the Court’ in enhancing the Court’s impact through higher efficiency and cost-effectiveness (para.988). While the report provides a framework for change, this ASP-led Review process now continues in the form of a ‘Review Mechanism.’ This body, made up of State Party representatives (currently The Netherlands and Sierra Leone) and ad country focal points, is ‘dedicated to planning, coordinating, keeping track and regularly reporting to the Assembly Presidency and the Bureau on the assessment of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Group of Independent Experts and further action, as appropriate <…>’ (para.4). Hence, the continued monitoring of the Independent Expert Review (IER) recommendations is in its hands.
To date, the most important output of the Review Mechanism is the categorisation of all the IER recommendations with corresponding timelines for their assessments through the Comprehensive Action Plan (Action Plan). This document identifies recommendations to be prioritised for assessment (i.e., implementation?), dividing the extensive list into four 6-month periods, up to the second half of 2023. While not easily digestible, the plan defines some important expectations from the Court for the upcoming years, with a select few areas unpacked below.