My Podcast on Palestine and the ICC — and an Additional Thought

My Podcast on Palestine and the ICC — and an Additional Thought

I had the pleasure of doing a podcast yesterday with Mark Leon Goldberg, purveyor of the essential UN Dispatch website, on the possibility of Palestine ratifying the Rome Statute or accepting the Court’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis. It’s about 20 minutes long, and you can find it here (or on iTunes).

I do want to mention another aspect of Palestine’s decision — one I hadn’t thought about until I read this excellent article in the Guardian by Joshua Rozenberg. (And it’s not just excellent because he quotes me.) As I discuss in the podcast, Palestine has two roads to a potential ICC investigation of Operation Protective Edge: (1) accept the Court’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis retroactive to 29 November 2012, the date of UNGA Res. 69/17; or (2) ratify the Rome Statute and then file an ad hoc declaration retroactive to 29 November 2012. Although both roads would give the ICC jurisdiction over the situation in Gaza, there is actually a critical procedural difference between them — assuming that the OTP wanted to investigate (which I still think is extremely unlikely). If Palestine simply accepts the Court’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis, the OTP’s decision to investigate would be considered proprio motu — and that decision would be subject to review by the Pre-Trial Chamber. (See, in that regard, the Cote d’Ivoire situation.) By contrast, if Palestine ratified the Rome Statute and then filed an ad hoc declaration, the OTP’s decision to investigate would be based on the referral of a State Party — and would not be subject to Pre-Trial Chamber review.

We’ll see what happens…

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Jean Paul Pierini
Jean Paul Pierini

I thought that the wording of article 11(2) of the Statute allows for the “retroactive” (in respect of the entry into force of the Statute for a State becoming a Party) jurisdiction of the Court only if a State … has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court under 12(3) prior to becoming a Party and not for a lodging such a declaration after having become a Party. Also 12(3) seems exclude retroactive acceptance by Parties to the Statute.

Remy
Remy

Actually, you already addressed this aspect in http://opiniojuris.org/2013/01/24/why-it-formally-matters-that-palestine-ratify-the-rome-statute/

…including the possibility of any (!) State party referring the situation to the Prosecutor, thereby circumventing PT-Chamber review.

Jean Paul Pierini
Jean Paul Pierini

Kevin, I got the point. Nevertheless also RPE 44 isn’t a model of drafting clarity. RPE 44(1) seems to permit States Party to make a declaration under article 12(3). Nevertheless RPE 44(2) seems, on the contrary, to suggest such declarations are made solely by States not Party, and such States are to be informed about the effect of their declaration under article 12(3) (…). Besides from RPE 44(1), I agree that there is no reason to justify an asymmetry and a different treatment of acceptance by States not Parties under 12(3) and accession under 11(2). It was not my initial intention to express my disagreement with the retroactivity of the acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction under 12(3) because the Court has already taken position. Nonetheless I disagree with the possibility for States not Party to retroactively accept the jurisdiction of the Court. This said, a formalistic approach, also in respect of 12(3) seems to me to be justified by art. 24(3) of the VCLT which I believe establishes a presumption against retroactivity. Perhaps also those formalistic provisions on the entry into force of amendments of the Statute for States which have accepted the amendments may support a formalistic approach to… Read more »

Hostage
Hostage

Response…I tend to agree with much of what you said in the interview. I think the bottom line is that helping to end conflicts was one of the stated aims of the UN when it convened the Rome Conference: “Why Do we Need an International Criminal Court? … To achieve justice for all … To end impunity … To help end conflicts … To remedy the deficiencies of ad hoc tribunals … To take over when national criminal justice institutions are unwilling or unable to act … To deter future war criminals. http://legal.un.org/icc/general/overview.htm Every time the ICC has been publicly criticized for avoiding one of those aims, its brand name has tanked pretty fast. So, I tend to disagree that the ICC can make the situation any worse by doing its job and failing, than 130 years of colonization, armed conflicts, and politicization have already accomplished. The Prosecutors may think they know how to slow walk things, but few other conflicts have their own worldwide network of solidarity activists. Palestine’s supporters haven’t been concentrating their efforts on the ICC up until now. They’ve been busy bashing Abbas, Israel, and their facilitators. What are the Prosecutors going to do when the… Read more »

Alexander Wills
Alexander Wills

Jean Paul,

In addition to the blog post Kevin referred to above, my recent article (details at http://jicj.oxfordjournals.org/content/12/3/407.abstract) addresses many of these concerns more comprehensively than is possible here. Section 3 argues that states parties can make article 12(3) declarations, and covers the interpretation and drafting history of Rule 44(1) in more detail.

Section 2 discusses some of the objections to article 12(3) declarations being made retroactively, including by reference to VCLT article 28.