By Sophie van Leeuwen
Every year, the ICC’s budget comes under scrutiny. During the recent global economic downturn, several countries pressed for its costs to be reduced. And every year, there’s discussion about how much trials cost. Justice Hub decided to examine the source of the Court’s money – the members of the ASP which have signed up to the Rome Statute. Are they all paying up?
20% of countries in the red
Each country is assessed for its ICC contribution based on its global economic position: how many people live there, how much they produce, etc. Looking at the Court’s own documents, it’s clear that some countries are more dilatory than others when it comes to paying their way. In fact, one out of five ICC member states is in the red. They haven’t yet paid their dues in full.
Brazil and Venezuela
All together, the International Criminal Court is owed almost ten million dollars. This excludes outstanding bills for this year, according to the latest status of contributions of April 2015.
The biggest defaulters are Brazil and Venezuela. Brazil is 5,5 million euros in the red, without counting this year’s invoices. Venezuela owes the court 2,1 million euros and Argentina almost a million up until 2014.
Twelve countries are technically ineligible to vote during the next meeting of ICC member states because they didn’t pay in time. Tanzania has not paid its ICC bills since 2010. Niger hasn’t paid a penny since 2009.
But Fadi El-Abdallah, spokesperson of the ICC, is calm. According to his calculations, 6,6 percent of last year’s operational budget has not been paid yet.
“We are engaged in a continuous discussion with the Assembly of States Parties to ensure a common understanding of the Court’s financial situation and to establish the best ways to meet the ICC financial needs at all moments of the budget cycle.
“The ASP has also established a contingency fund of 7 million euros to allow the Court to handle any unforeseen increase in workload, for example, the opening of a new investigation.”
Countries like the Dominican Republic and Benin may formally lose their voting rights, but they won’t be severely punished, says El-Abdallah. “It is common that the ASP waives voting restrictions.”
States don’t even have to provide any justification for outstanding contributions and arrears, says El-Abdallah. “Different states have different budgetary proceedings and calendars, and they may decide to use the different possibilities for the payment of their contributions.”
Countries that are listed as “outstanding” have not yet paid their full contribution for this year. According to Article 112 of the Rome Statute, “a state party which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions shall have no vote in the Assembly…The Assembly may, nevertheless, permit such a State Party to vote in the Assembly…if it is satisfied that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the State Party.”
The ASP, the general assembly of the ICC, gathers later on Wednesday and Thursday in The Hague. The fourth item on their agenda, after a silent prayer, is states in arrears.