PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR INTERNATIONAL
Financial Commitments Announced will
NEW YORK, 15 April (UN Headquarters) -- The International Criminal Court (ICC) received financial commitments totaling more than half the $2.8 million estimated to be required to cover the cost of convening the first meeting of the Assembly of States Parties to its treaty, as the Preparatory Commission for the Court met this morning to hear progress reports on the last remaining arrangements necessary for the Court’s operation.
Several European Union countries announced their contributions to the trust fund set up to finance the initial meeting, to be held in September of this year, following the treaty’s entry into force last Thursday, 11 April. A 31 May deadline has been set for raising the $2.8 million. All contributions were made with the understanding that they would be deducted from future assessments for the Court.
The following countries made contributions: Spain, 170,000 euros; Germany, 23 per cent of the total required; Sweden, $100,000; Belgium, 74,000 euros; and Finland, 84,000 euros.
The amounts are in addition to Norway’s contribution of 784,000 euros, announced at last Monday’s plenary meeting.
Also, the representative of Mexico, who briefed the Commission on his country’s progress toward its imminent ratification of the ICC treaty, announced that Mexico would make a symbolic contribution to the Trust Fund.
Moreover, it was announced that discussions were under way with the European Union and the MacArthur Foundation to finance an expert group to set up systems concerning human resources, finances, computer and technology, security, building management, public information and legal questions that would then allow the Court to begin operating as soon as possible.
The Commission has had the task, since the treaty was adopted in Rome in July 1998, of negotiating the practical and technical arrangements necessary to allow the Court to function.
The Commission is in the last stages of negotiations on the final remaining issues, namely, a first-year budget for the Court and administrative and financial matters connected to the initial meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, now expected to take place in The Hague sometime in September 2002. The Commission is also dealing with arrangements for the nomination and election procedure for judges, the prosecutor and the registrar, as well as their remuneration; and a trust fund for victims and witnesses. In addition, final details were being worked out concerning the principles that should govern the headquarters agreement with the Host Country of the Court, the Netherlands.
In this morning’s meeting, coordinators informed the Commission that a text on the Principles Governing a Headquarters Agreement with the Host Country of the Netherlands was finalized, and that draft financial rules for the Court were expected to be approved in a meeting this afternoon.
Parameters and guidelines for the future budget of the Court had been identified in the working group on a first-year budget. A first reading of a text would begin this afternoon, the Coordinator said. Also, it was unanimously felt that any contributions to the Trust Fund paid before 31 May 2002 should be subtracted from future compulsory assessments for the Court. Deductibility should be guaranteed. He encouraged countries to contribute to the Trust Fund and to make formal announcements of their commitments as a way of encouraging others to contribute.
An independent Secretariat for the Assembly of States Parties in the initial phase of the ICC’s operations would not be advisable, due to time and other constraints, the coordinator of the group on preparatory documents for the Assembly of States Parties said. Instead, the group recommended that the Secretariat of the United Nations carry out that function on a provisional basis. Progress had been made on the election procedure for judges, he said, adding though that the agenda of the first Assembly had not yet been considered.
The coordinator for the remuneration of judges, the prosecutor and the registrar said that the group had had fruitful opening discussions.
A draft text on the victims and witnesses trust fund had been examined paragraph by paragraph, according to the coordinator of the working group on that issue. She said that a French annex to the draft elaborated on the management of the trust fund, the rule of the registry, criteria for the acceptance of voluntary contributions and other issues.
The Coordinator for the Working Group on the Crime of Aggression, which will be included within the Court’s jurisdiction once the crime is legally defined, said she had little to report since the group had met only once so far this session but intended to hold most of its meetings this week. The group would focus on two new documents that had been presented: a Coordinator’s text and a Secretariat paper that provided a background on discussions of the crime of aggression.
The following are coordinators for topics at the Preparatory Commission: Zsolt Hetesy (Hungary), Principles Governing a Headquarters Agreement; Saied Mirzaiee-Yengejeh (Iran), Assembly of States Parties preparatory documents; Valentin Zellweger (Switzerland), First-Year Budget; Christian Much (Germany), financial issues; John Holmes (Canada), remuneration of judges, the prosecutor and the registrar; Gaile Ramoutar (Trinidad and Tobago), victims and witnesses trust fund; and Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi (Argentina), the Crime of Aggression and Chair of the Sub-committee as an interlocutor with the Host Country.
The Commission will meet next in plenary on Friday, 19 April at 10 a.m.
Officers of Commission
The officers of the Preparatory Commission are as follows: Chairman, Philippe Kirsch (Canada); Vice-Chairmen, George Winston McKenzie (Trinidad and Tobago), Medard R. Rwelamira (South Africa), and Mirza Kusljugic (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The Rapporteur is Salah Suheimat (Jordan).
* *** *