On 12 and 13 November 2020, the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) held their judicial retreat at the seat of the Court in The Hague. Due to the ongoing situation caused by COVID-19, the retreat was held using an online platform. At the retreat, the judges reached in principle agreement on a set of amendments to the ICC Code of Judicial Ethics.
The retreat provided an opportunity for private exchanges among judges on topics related to the overall functioning of the judiciary. At the initiative of the Presidency, and following on from previous work at the judges' retreat in 2018, the retreat addressed a number of topical issues including: the ICC Code of Judicial Ethics, the election of the Presidency and the induction of newly-elected judges.
In his opening remarks at the retreat, the ICC President, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said: "despite the necessary physical distance, I am confident that we can show through this Retreat that we are as much together as ever, if not more, particularly as we address the topics chosen for this retreat, which reflect the commitment of the current group of judges to strengthening ethical standards and improving collegiality."
The judges discussed the ICC Code of Judicial Ethics, which, although representing best practice at the time of its initial adoption in 2005, now warrants updating in certain respects to ensure that it remains up-to-date. The judges of the Court agreed, in principle, on the adoption of amendments to the Code concerning a variety of matters related to collegiality, loyalty and integrity. They agreed to include a provision expressly prohibiting any form of discrimination, harassment and abuse of authority, as well as to expressly acknowledge that certain ethical obligations continue to apply to former judges. Following technical review, the updated text of the ICC Code of Judicial Ethics will be formally adopted by the judges and published.
The judges also continued discussions they had previously started on the election of the Presidency of the Court, pursuant to article 38 of the Rome Statute and rules 4 and 4
bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The judges agreed on the value of transparent guidelines to govern such elections and committed to work further on this matter.
The judges also considered the induction programme for newly-elected judges, with a view to ensuring improvements in the programme to be offered in 2021. They discussed the best manner in which to ensure that newly-elected judges would receive a comprehensive in-depth introduction to the Court, fostering a culture of collegiality, respect and excellence from the outset. Several important aspects, including the topics, scope and format of such induction, were identified which will be further developed in the upcoming period.
In respect of matters concerning the conduct of judicial proceedings and improving their efficiency, the judges also discussed matters pertaining to the Regulations of the Court.
For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected]
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