Surprise! The members of the International Criminal Court face a sudden budgetary crisis. While gathering to vote for a new judge, it emerged that the new ICC building would be more expensive than the 200 million euros was supposed to cost.
Worst case scenario
“We are going around in a vicious circle” said one ambassador to colleagues at the Assembly of States Parties. “I need an answer.” They weren’t the only ones complaining.
The states, which are funding the new court building, learnt that it might cost nearly 9 million euros extra to complete the project. On top of that, the project director has resigned.
Czech Ambassador Jana Reinisova refused to accept this “worst case scenario” and tried to find “a compromise”. She has been asked to look into this ASP matter and chaired a debate in an informal working group.
Another delegation expressed frustration that any additional money was needed. “We kindly request that you keep on arm twisting so that we end up with zero”.
The states have been told that it’s difficult to assess exactly how much more the building will cost. Anywhere between 1.1 and 8.8 million. They reportedly agreed that six million should be enough.
But it has been a bad-tempered debate, with states saying they don’t now why this figure has been chosen. “We don’t know where those millions are coming from,” says a delegation member. “They haven’t been clear about why they need that money. And it’s not the first time the Court asks for more.”
The costs have crept up. Last year, the ASP agreed that 200 million euros was the limit. But now, just a few months before the new building is due to be delivered, the news has emerged that it will cost more.
The committee in charge asked for an “urgent audit” after the project director resigned. There had been “a substantial budget overrun”. The states want the project completed by next September. The move to the new premises should be completed by December. By then, the project director will probably have a new job in Geneva.
Who will pay?
The big fear is that states might be asked to contribute more. How will they justify this back in their capitals? That’s why the cash will come out of a couple of funds, in which money to run parts of the ICC have already been placed. No states parties will have to contribute more. For now…
When the ASP meets again in November, it’ll be sure of exactly how much the whole building has cost. But will there be a need to add the money back into those funds again? Nobody is sure.
(Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)