“I think there is a need for pain at the International Criminal Court. What needs to be chopped has to be chopped now.” International Justice expert Guénaël Mettraux is merciless when it comes to the ICC. Yesterday he launched an independent expert report titled: ‘Promoting effectiveness at the ICC’. But beneath the diplomatic language was his clear message “What is necessary at the ICC is firing people. Reorganise”.
By Sophie van Leeuwen
The report includes some 200 recommendations based on a gathering of senior policy makers and practitioners – including representatives of the ICC, States Parties, NGOs and independent experts – which was convened from 3-5 September in Glion, Switzerland.
Its findings suggest that there is a lack of knowledge and leadership, particularly at the managerial level of the ICC.
During its launch at The Hague Institute of Global Justice, Mettraux said that, “the court should start recruiting the right people, based on experience and competence and nothing else. On any level.”
Generally, say the experts, trials take too long, investigations are often problematic and evidence suggests that the ICC project might not be what it used to be 10 years ago. Many propose that with only two people sentenced, The Hague-based court is not as effective and efficient as it should be.
“I think the institution as a whole should have some concerns. They should take responsibility for selecting the wrong people in the wrong place. Also, states should take responsibility for selecting some of the wrong judges in the first place,” Mettraux argues.
And he has some radical suggestions for the ICC: “what is necessary is firing people, reorganising. Those who might lose their job might be concerned. There may be discomfort, some instability for a period of time. But in the long term, you need to make the court as professional and as effective as you can. The ICC has to be an example for other jurisdictions. If it isn’t, it will lose importance in the coming decades.”
The most problematic issues at the Hague-based court, according to the experts, are: investigations, the pre-trial confirmation process, disclosure, evidence, orality, victims’ participation, defence, institution building and state cooperation and witness protection.
The Court renounced hiring people from earlier courts and tribunals with the necessary skills and this has affected how it functions, says Mettraux. “There were political considerations about geographical representation. But an institution is nothing but the people who are running it. The quality of the staff is essential for making the court function.”
According to Mettraux: “the International Criminal Court has a very, very, very difficult task, and it needs very, very, very good people to make it work. The ICC needs to fix itself. Pick up the pieces and try to do better.”
ICC Judge and Vice-President Sanji Mmasenono Monagenge was present at the launch. She annnounced a fundamental review of the ICC Registry. But, she added, the ICC won’t fire people.
Lead image: Guénaël Mettraux (Photo:João Pires/Justice Hub)