Bensouda vs. Othman for ICC Prosecutor (and Bensouda Should Win)
The ICC has announced that the Assembly of States Parties has eliminated Andrew Cayley and Robert Petit from consideration as Moreno-Ocampo’s replacement:
The Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court (“the Assembly”) will hold its tenth session at the United Nation Headquarters in New York from 12 to 21 December 2011.
The tenth session will be marked by elections, which will significantly change the composition of the Court. The Assembly will elect a new President of the Assembly of States Parties for the tenth to twelfth sessions (2011 – 2013). Ambassador Tiina Intelmann (Estonia), was recommended for the post by the Bureau in July. She will replace Ambassador Christian Wenaweser (Liechtenstein).
The Assembly will further elect the Prosecutor who shall hold office for a term of up to nine years and shall not be eligible for re-election. As mandated by the Rome Statute, every effort shall be made to elect the Prosecutor by consensus. The four shortlisted candidates recommended by the Prosecutor Search Committee are: Ms. Fatou Bensouda (Gambia), Mr. Andrew T. Cayley (United Kingdom), Mr. Mohamed Chande Othman (United Republic of Tanzania), and Mr. Robert Petit (Canada).
After informal consultations among States Parties, it was decided to narrow the list to two candidates: Ms. Fatou Bensouda (Gambia) and Mr. Mohamed Chande Othman (United Republic of Tanzania). At the 1 December informal consultations, to be held in New York, States Parties will see if there is consensus on one candidate.
I am surprised that Cayley was eliminated — I think he would have made an excellent Prosecutor. But, of course, it was always unlikely that a non-African candidate would be elected, especially when the final list included two Africans who were very well qualified for the position.
That said, I still think Fatou Bensouda is the clear choice for the next Prosecutor. She offers the best of both worlds: an ICC insider who offers institutional continuity, which will be critical in the coming years, but has a strong, independent voice that has not been tainted by Moreno-Ocampo’s incompetent tenure. Having spoken to numerous individuals involved in the ICC, from OTP staff to legal officers in Chambers to defense attorneys, it is clear that Bensouda was the primary reason that the OTP didn’t fall completely apart over the past eight years.
I have also had the good fortune to spend time with Bensouda over the past couple of years. She is, to put it mildly, an incredibly impressive woman: smart, articulate, thoughtful (a welcome change from Moreno-Ocampo), and compassionate. And her pre-ICC credentials are stellar, including significant posts at both the international level and in her native The Gambia:
Senior Legal Adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the ICTR; Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Republic of The Gambia; Solicitor General and Legal Secretary of the Republic of The Gambia; and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions of the Republic of the Gambia.
Othman also has excellent credentials — although his role as Prosecutor General of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has to count against him somewhat; the Special Panels for Serious Crimes were a fisaco. But there is only one clear choice for the next Prosecutor, and that is Fatou Bensouda.
Fingers crossed. We should know in early December.