Press Release: 14 December 2020

19th session of the Assembly of States Parties opens in The Hague


The nineteenth session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened today at the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague, The Netherlands. The session is scheduled from 14 to 16 December in The Hague and from 17 to 23 December 2020 in New York. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, meetings will be held partly remotely. 

At this session, in The Hague, States Parties to the Rome Statute, observer States, invited States, international and regional organizations and representatives from civil society will discuss key challenges facing the Statute. States Parties will also adopt resolutions on important issues pertaining to the functioning of the Court and the Trust Fund for Victims, including on their respective budgets, on the Report of the Independent Expert Review of the ICC and the Rome Statute System and on cooperation.

In New York, States parties are scheduled to elect six ICC judges, the ICC Prosecutor, six members of the Committee on Budget and Finance, and the ASP President. 

The President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Mr. O-Gon Kwon, who is approaching the end of his three year term, expressed that it has been an utmost privilege to serve in the position. "The system of international criminal justice is still a growing organism. As such, we have a collective obligation to future generations to care for its development, " he added.

Approaching the end of his term on 10 March 2021, the President of the Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji stated: "As I take my bow, I will pledge to you my commitment to seize every opportunity available to me to continue to advocate for support and strengthening of this Court, in order that it can continue to strive to achieve its fullest remit as an instrument of peace and human dignity in every corner of our world." President Eboe-Osuji's full written statement to the Assembly, discussing a wide range of achievements and challenges during his three-year term as President, will be available shortly.

In her last opening plenary intervention before the ASP as ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda opined that the theme for the ICC in 2020 was one of resilience and commitment in the face of great adversity. The Prosecutor also stated that: "When objectively observed, the Office today is a vastly improved iteration of what it was some nine years ago, and it has to its credit secured important achievements on the strength of the quality of its staff, the tenacity of our spirit and clarity of purpose." "I am proud of what we have built together as an Office and the path to continuous improvement on which we have embarked upon" she added. She further stressed that her Office has always "paid homage to the Rome Statute an its laudable goals without fear or favour" and that Court supporters should "not allow the cause of international criminal justice to be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency." She concluded by expressing her profound gratitude to all who have supported her and her Office's mandate. 

ICC Registrar Peter Lewis stated: "When we met last year, we discussed the Independent Expert Review and how it could strengthen the Court and prepare us for the future. Little did we know that before the review could report we would face the most extraordinary challenges. In dealing with these challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Executive Order and designations, as well as the arrears and liquidity problems, we discovered we were more responsive, more resilient, more flexible and more innovative than we imagined. We also discovered we were not alone, as we have a secure home and a safe haven in the Netherlands, enormous political support and practical support from the States Parties, and the support of civil society, as strong and vocal as ever. Regarding the Independent Expert Review report, I look forward in the year ahead to considering its recommendations with States Parties and hopefully agreeing on a change agenda in the years ahead to strengthen the Court."

Mama Koité Doumbia, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims, stated: "The sudden death of our Chair, Dr. Felipe Michelini, was a cruel shock to his family, friends and colleagues at the Trust Fund for Victims and the Court. He was an immeasurable human rights defender, which made him a staunch supporter of the ICC since its inception and a leader of the Trust Fund for Victims." She added: "The past year has been a critical period of transition for the Trust Fund for Victims and for its mandate to implement reparations and legal assistance activities. We have moved from intensive preparation and planning to no less intensive implementation and evaluation. The Board welcomed the launch of long-planned relief and repair activities, expanding the Fund's active portfolio to an unprecedented seven affected countries. At the TFV Secretariat, there is a new paradigm. This is not a sudden process, but the culmination of ideas and initiatives that we, as a Board, have guided and carefully considered. "

The ICC, governed by the Rome Statute, is the world's first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and the crime of aggression. In accordance with article 112 of the Rome Statute, the Assembly is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC. It is composed of representatives of the States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute.

Statement by ICC President Chile Eboe-Osuji at the opening of the 19th Session of the Assembly of States Parties

Statement by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the opening of the 19th Session of the Assembly of States Parties

Statement by the ICC Registrar Peter Lewis at the opening of the 19th Session of the Assembly of States Parties

Statement by the Chair of the Board of Directors Mama Koité Doumbia at the opening of the 19th Session of the Assembly of States Parties (French)

Report on the Activities of the International Criminal Court
ICC-ASP/19/9  -   English | Espa ñol | Français | عربي 

Report to the Assembly of States Parties on the projects and the activities of the Board of directors of the Trust Fund for victims for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020
ICC-ASP/19/14/ - English Espa ñol | Français | عربي

Photographs of 19th session 

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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