ASP: All things come to an end

Like 14th Assembly of States Parties
Monday, November 30, 2015 - 08:51

By Niklas Jakobsson

It’s never over until the fat lady sings, as the saying goes. After roughly a week of diplomatic negotiations, side-events and presentations, it took quite a while for the Assembly of States Parties to conclude last Thursday. In fact, the fat lady held her final note for so long that even Luciano Pavarotti raised an eyebrow from beyond the grave.

If you were expecting this piece to be about the massive conversation on Kenya, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. In fact, if that’s what you’re after then you should check out Janet Anderson’s great summary from Friday.

The ASP had it all – from yawn-inducing technical discussions to events on key issues the Court is dedicated to dealing with, such as sexual and gender-based crimes, state cooperation, Court independence and the budget.

One of the main themes, and most noticeable, were the constant statements by states affirming their commitment to an independent Court. What made it even more interesting was that several of the states were strongly opposed to the major budget request made by the Court a few months ago.

Canada made big waves during the ASP, being one of the countries pushing for zero nominal growth during the heated and long-winded budget negotiations. In fact, Canada, alongside the United Kingdom, made a push for changed language in the text welcoming new state parties. Putting it mildly – other states were less than impressed.

Canada kept pushing its agenda throughout the week, even as the fat lady was hitting her final high C, questioning one state party’s membership at the Court in their closing statements.

Despite all the drama, the dealing, the monitoring and the gossiping, the work of the International Criminal Court boils down to ending impunity and delivering justice to victims. However, in a diplomatic setting like the ASP, this is sometimes forgotten. That’s why it’s good that we are sometimes reminded of this when we get carried away, talking about everything from languages in ASP reports to budgets and Rome Statute articles.

The ASP came rolling into The Hague as a diplomatic juggernaut. But it’s clear that the Kenyan ‘side-show’ dominated the ASP from start to finish. But according to some international justice observers, this will most likely be the last time that the Assembly allows itself to be dominated by a single state party or issue.

Next year, the Assembly will head back to New York for another week of discussions, debates and drama. Until then we’ll have to settle for all the interesting stuff the Court can generate on its own, such as the confirmation hearings of former LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen. We can be sure that the ICC will deliver news and controversy for the year ahead.


  • What did you find most noticeable at the ASP?
  • What will the budget implications be for the Court?
  • Is the ASP the most efficient and appropriate way to deal with these issues?

Lead image: 14th Assembly of States Parties in The Hague (Photo: Bing)

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