Ahead of the annual session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), we are writing to call on your government to demonstrate its firm commitment to combating impunity for serious international crimes. That the ICC has the necessary resources to carry out its important mandate in all cases within its regular budget.
France has provided multifaceted support to the ICC over the past 20 years since the entry into force of the Rome Statute. In particular, he, along with other States Parties, defended the Court and its officials when it was attacked by the previous United States administration, and for several years co-facilitated the Assembly’s work on cooperation.
France also joined 42 other States Parties in bringing the situation in Ukraine to the Court, and provided voluntary contributions and seconded staff to the Office earlier in the year in response to a request by the Office to support its activities in specific areas.
As you know, the Court’s mandate is needed more than ever. From Ukraine to many other situations under its jurisdiction, the ICC plays an important role in the implementation of victims’ right of access to justice. To do this effectively, the ICC needs adequate resources from its regular budget so that all its officials – whether investigating, prosecuting cases or ensuring justice for affected communities – can carry out their role effectively and consistently in all cases. to be able to perform it. Jurisdiction of Court.
Unfortunately, discussions in the Assembly regarding the determination of the Court’s annual budget have often been based on the insistence of some States Parties, including France, to adopt a zero nominal growth approach. A situation that leads to budget negotiations focused on maintaining any increase in the budget according to this approach, rather than a real dialogue focused on assessing real needs. This resulted in actual reductions or cuts in the Court’s budget in some years, even as the workload increased when adjusted for inflation.
The inadequacy of the court’s resources is increasingly evident. An appeal for voluntary donations launched at the beginning of the year actually acknowledged that the Prosecutor’s Office has real resource needs that cannot be covered by the regular budget. The same applies to all of the Court’s work, including, for example, its core presence in affected communities through country offices and outreach activities.
The response of many States Parties, including France, to the Prosecutor’s request for voluntary contributions and posted workers earlier in the year is a positive step in support of justice. However, as you know, the use of these resources is strictly regulated by the legal framework of the Court and is allowed only in exceptional cases.
Voluntary contributions and seconded staff are not a sustainable funding model; on the other hand, the general budget supports the work of the Court in all bodies and in all cases. This allows for some predictability and best preserves the independence of judicial officers in their decision-making. Furthermore, although the contributions were not case-specific, the availability of additional funds – after years of limited increases in the Court’s regular budget – was so closely linked to the situation in Ukraine that it resulted in harmful perceptions that a double standard prevailed. Support for States where the ICC parties are willing to give justice.
Of course, the Court must ensure efficient use of the resources given to it. Over the past three years, significant progress has been made in the Court’s independent peer review process to strengthen the judiciary. We urge your government to approach this year’s budget at a time when the critical role of the ICC is being re-focused due to the large-scale conflict in Ukraine, and when this review process will result in a common framework for negotiating the necessary changes. It should negotiate with the concern to assess the real investment that will be required for the court to effectively fulfill its mandate.
Indeed, at this particular point in the ICC’s existence, states that support justice can send the strongest signal of their support for the Court, its truly global mandate and victims’ access to justice by strengthening its overall budget. We call on your government to ensure that the regular budget of the International Criminal Court, in support of international accountability, is consistent with its mandate in its founding treaty.
Dear Mr. Minister, please accept our respectful greetings.
Benedikte Jeannerod, France director of Human Rights Watch
Clémence Bectarte, Co-Chair of the French Coalition of the International Criminal Court
Eleonore Morel, Executive Director of the International Federation of Human Rights
Jean-Claude Samouiller, French President of Amnesty International
Patrick Baudouin, President of the Human Rights League
Emailed to: Mr. François Alabrune, French Ambassador to the Netherlands and Mr. Stefan Louhaur, Legal Counselor of the French Embassy in the Netherlands