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ICC Holds First Meeting

ICC Holds First Meeting

NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Governing Body of the International Criminal Court to Convene 3 - 10 September
NGO Coalition Welcomes Historic First Meeting of the Assembly of States Parties

(New York, August 30, 2002) - The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court today welcomed the forthcoming historic first meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, the governing body of the newly created International Criminal Court (Court or ICC). The July 1, 2002 entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court set in motion the Court's jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as the establishment of the Court itself. The first meeting of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), which will take place at UN headquarters from September 3 - 10, will see the election of officials of the ASP, the adoption of four years of work by the Preparatory Commission, and the finalization of procedures for the Court's establishment. High-level officials are expected to attend and make statements during the second week of meetings.

"The opening of this first session represents another milestone in the establishment of the new world court and the new system of international criminal justice," said William Pace, Convenor of the more than 1,000 member Coalition. "The creation of the ICC by nearly eighty nations representing all regions and legal systems of the world demonstrates that major new international organizations can be established even without support of some of the world's most powerful nations."

The election of the president of the Assembly, the two vice-chairs and the eighteen bureau members is expected to take place during the opening plenary on September 3. Although the outcome of the presidential election has yet to be determined, it is largely expected that H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan will assume the position. Other important aspects of the meeting include: the adoption of procedures for nomination and election of candidates for the eighteen judges to preside over the Court, consideration of critical documents produced through hard-won compromises during the four years of Preparatory Commission meetings, and adoption of the budget for the first year of the Court's operations.

To date, seventy-eight countries have ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC, twelve of which have done so after the US disengagement through nullification of its signature of the treaty on May 6, 2002. Since that time the US has waged a campaign against the Court, resulting in the July 12 passage of Security Council Resolution 1422 granting UN peacekeepers immunity from the Court on a one year renewable basis, the August 5 Presidential signature of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), the pursuit of bilateral "impunity" agreements in capitals around the world, and the threat to withdraw military funding and assistance from certain countries supporting the Court. The convening of this Assembly is expected to provide an opportunity for testimony from numerous high-level government officials regarding the historic importance of this institution and the necessity for continued efforts to preserve its fairness, effectiveness and independence.

Once Preparatory Commission documents are adopted, November 30 will become the next most important deadline for the deposit of ratification instruments at the UN, as only countries to have done so by that time will be able to participate in the nomination and election of judges. The nominations period is expected to be formally opened immediately following the adoption of nominations procedures during the ASP. The election of judges will likely take place in February 2003 during the resumed meeting of the Assembly of States Parties. The Court, the first year budget of which at approximately $35 million is a fraction of costs of the existing tribunals, is expected to be fully operational by mid-2003. An inauguration ceremony will be held in March of that year.

# # #

About the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) is a network of over 1,000 civil society organizations and legal associations working to create a permanent, fair and independent International Criminal Court. Established in 1995, the CICC is the leading source of information regarding the ICC and the regional organizations that support its formation. For more information, please visit http://www.iccnow.org.


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