(New York) – The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) annual meeting of member countries comes at a crucial time for upholding the rule of law in the face of widespread atrocities worldwide, Human Rights Watch said today. The 16th session of the court’s Assembly of States Parties will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from December 4 to 14, 2017.

The Permanent Premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. 

© 2016 UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The ICC recently opened a new investigation in Burundi, and its prosecutor is seeking permission from the court’s judges to open an investigation in Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch released a 15-page briefing note with its recommendations for the meeting.

“Nearly 20 years after its creation, the ICC’s growing docket shows the increase in its global importance,” said Elizabeth Evenson, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s crucial for ICC member countries to give the court the practical and political backing it needs to deliver justice on a more difficult world scene.”

ICC member countries will hold discussions at the annual meeting about key issues for the court, including whether its yearly budget for 2018 will provide the resources needed to meet its expanding workload. Some governments have sought to limit increases to the court’s budget to a bare minimum, despite the clear need for greater investment in investigations and stronger court outreach to affected communities.

Member countries will elect six new judges and consider activating the court’s authority over the crime of aggression, which would be in addition to the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide it currently addresses. The countries will also kick off a year-long campaign to strengthen global support for the court and justice to celebrate the upcoming 20th anniversary of the July 1998 adoption of the Rome Statute, the court’s founding document.