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The International Criminal Court Independent Expert Review: reforming the Court: Part II

Published on February 7, 2020        Author: 


Editor’s note: This post is Part II of a three-part series. Read Part I here.

In part one of this series of posts, I outlined the background to the 18th International Criminal Court Assembly of State Parties (ASP) adopting a resolution establishing an Independent Expert Review (IER) of the Court to begin work – and report – in 2020.* This brief post will examine the mechanics of that review process and consider some of the early criticisms made of it.

It bears repeating that, as many State Parties said in the ASP general debate, reviewing and strengthening the Court is a process, not an event. (A development I find encouraging, given my earlier scepticism of reform-by-expert-inquiry alone.) The IER will occur in parallel with an ongoing dialogue between the ASP and the Court, and the Court’s own internal efforts to reform and strengthen its processes. Critically, there now appears wider acceptance that while it is independent the Court must also be accountable. Indeed, probably the most effective accountability mechanism the ASP can bring to bear is simply scrutiny. In an ideal world, the other organs of the Court would look to effective internal reform in order to anticipate or limit ASP-initiated reform. The extent to which this is already happening is considered in the next, third, post in this series.

The structure of the IER and its mandate

A concern I had about the IER at the outset is its short timeframe (para 25). It is to commence work on 1 January 2020 and report in September. February and March are given over to “[c]onsultations with States Parties, Court officials, and civil society” and an interim report is scheduled for June-July. By the standards of the international system (or the Court) this is blisteringly fast. However, a longer timeframe may introduce its own problems. Aligning the availability of experts to serve on the IER becomes more complex the longer its mandate. Further, in terms of the animating force behind the IER, the terms of the present members of the ASP Bureau (the presidency or executive committee of the ASP) expire in December 2020. Finally, my concerns are fewer once the IER is understood as part of a larger review project not an end in itself.

In terms of structure, the IER resolution appoints three experts to each of three “clusters” (nine experts in total), each cluster dedicated to examining a set of issues: Read the rest of this entry…

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