Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, Addresses Member Countries of the ICC

Human Rights Watch is engaging with member countries of the International Criminal Court as they meet in their annual session, to make sure they remain focused on doing all they can to uphold the quest for justice and to support the fight against impunity.

In the midst of a global pandemic, this year’s session will look very different from previous ones. Most will attend the session virtually. But civil society organizations from all over the world will follow the proceedings online. We will work with other groups to ensure that NGO voices in support of a better ICC and a more effective pursuit of justice are heard and amplified.

Transcript

Justice for serious international crimes remains crucial to the protection of human rights.  It ensures that the suffering of victims is not ignored and that perpetrators are held to account.

At Human Rights Watch we are engaging with member countries of the International Criminal Court as they meet in their annual session, to make sure they remain focused on doing all they can to uphold the quest for justice and to support the fight against impunity.

The years 2020 has been a significant one for the ICC, and critical opportunities to advance justice lie ahead. A group of independent experts have reviewed the court’s functioning and made recommendations to strengthen its performance. Meanwhile, the court has come under intense pressure from the Trump administration, which authorized sanctions with the aim of deterring scrutiny of US and Israeli conduct. The new Biden administration should take a different approach, one that supports, rather than attacks, the global rule of law. At the same time, member countries should stand firmly behind the court’s mandate.

At the upcoming session, ICC members should agree on the framework to follow-up on the independent expert review. They should recommit to support the court in the face of efforts to undermine it. And they should elect the best new generation of court leadership, including the next prosecutor and 6 new judges, who will need to uphold the vision of the ICC’s founders: a court to hold even the most powerful to account. These elections should be based on merit, not on vote-trading.

In the midst of a global pandemic, this year’s session will look very different from previous ones. Most will attend the session virtually. But civil society organizations from all over the world will follow the proceedings online. We will work with other groups to ensure that NGO voices in support of a better ICC and a better pursuit of justice are heard and amplified.