The Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute concluded its eighth session on 26 November 2009. Among the more important results of the Assembly was the decision that the much anticipated review conference is to be held in Kampala, Uganda between 31 May and 11 June 2010. The review conference will be the first such conference. Its convening is provided for in Art. 123(1) of the Rome Statute. According to this provision the UN Secretary General is to call together the conference 7 years after the entry into force of the Rome Statute, which occurred on 1 July 2002, and the main task of the conference is to consider any possible amendments to the Rome Statute. The conference is to be open to those participating in the Assembly of States Parties, which, pursuant to Art. 112 Rome Statute, consists of representatives of each State Party to the Statute and other States which have signed the Statute (or the Final Act) and which have been provided with an observer status for this purpose. The review conference will be able to adopt amendments to the Statute itself without having to wait for the next meeting of the Assembly of States Parties (cf. Arts. 123(3) and 121(3)-(7) Rome Statute).
According to the Assembly of States Parties the conference should consider the following issues:
- The possible deletion of article 124 of the Statute, which allows a new State Party to opt for excluding from the Court’s jurisdiction war crimes allegedly committed by its nationals or on its territory for a period of seven years;
- The definition of the crime of aggression, the conditions for the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court, as well as draft elements of the crime;
- The inclusion of the employment of certain poisonous weapons and expanding bullets in the definition of war crimes in article 8 of the Statute;
- Conducting a stocktaking of international criminal justice focusing on four topics: complementarity, cooperation, the impact of the Rome Statute system on victims and affected communities, and peace and justice.
The Assembly provided a draft provisional agenda for the conference. Especially the definition of the aggression and the conditions for the exercise of the ICC’s jurisdiction in this regard will be an interesting subject. For some of the preparatory work in this regard see this overview of documents.
Moreover, the Assembly concluded that a working group be established for the purpose of considering the remaining proposals for amendments as from its ninth session in 2010. The Assembly also decided the establishment of an independent oversight mechanism, pursuant to Art. 112(4) Rome Statute, with an initial mandate to provide an investigative capacity for the ICC to address alleged misconduct of elected officials and staff. The remit of the mechanism may be widened by the Assembly during its ninth session. Interestingly, the Committee on Budget and Finance in its report on the work of its thirteenth session suggested that one should rely on the assistance of the UN Office of Internal Oversight, as it would ‘allow the Court to benefit from the experience of that office and progressively build-up its own capacity’. The goal would thus still be the establishment of an autonomous oversight mechanism. Yet the initial connection with the oversight organ of the UN would not be recommendable as it would put into question the fundamental independence of the ICC from the UN (cf. Art. 2 of the Negotiated Relationship Agreement between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations).
The Assembly also decided that the ICC may subsidize family visits for indigent detainees up to an amount to be determined by the Assembly in the context of the approval of the programme budget. In the long run, however, a voluntary system of funding family visits is envisaged.
The Assembly decided to establish a liaison office at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa. This would be the second such liaison office after the office at the UN headquarters in New York. The ICC currently upholds 4 field offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Uganda and the Central Africa Republic.
The Assembly approved a budget of approximately € 103,600,000 for 2010 (an increase of 2.3 % from € 101,229,900 for 2009) and a staffing level of 768 (744 for 2009).
The ninth session of the Assembly will presumably take place in early December 2010.