Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Breaking News: ICC declines Palestine inquiry

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has declined to go forward with a 3-year-old request that it exercise jurisdiction in Palestine.
Excerpts from its release, available in full here:
4. The jurisdiction of the Court is not based on the principle of universal jurisdiction: it requires that the United Nations Security Council (article 13(b)) or a “State” (article 12) provide jurisdiction. Article 12 establishes that a “State” can confer jurisdiction to the Court by becoming a Party to the Rome Statute (article 12(1)) or by making an ad hoc declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction (article 12(3)).
5. The issue that arises, therefore, is who defines what is a “State” for the purpose of article 12 of the Statute? In accordance with article 125, the Rome Statute is open to accession by “all States”, and any State seeking to become a Party to the Statute must deposit an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. In instances where it is controversial or unclear whether an applicant constitutes a “State”, it is the practice of the Secretary-General to follow or seek the General Assembly’s directives on the matter. This is reflected in General Assembly resolutions which provide indications of whether an applicant is a “State”. Thus, competence for determining the term “State” within the meaning of article 12 rests, in the first instance, with the United Nations Secretary General who, in case of doubt, will defer to the guidance of General Assembly. The Assembly of States Parties of the Rome Statute could also in due course decide to address the matter in accordance with article 112(2)(g) of the Statute.
6. In interpreting and applying article 12 of the Rome Statute, the Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court under article 12(1). The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term “State” under article 12(3) which would be at variance with that established for the purpose of article 12(1).
7. The Office has been informed that Palestine has been recognised as a State in bilateral relations by more than 130 governments and by certain international organisations, including United Nation bodies. However, the current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of “observer”, not as a “Non-member State”. The Office understands that on 23 September 2011, Palestine submitted an application for admission to the United Nations as a Member State in accordance with article 4(2) of the United Nations Charter, but the Security Council has not yet made a recommendation in this regard. While this process has no direct link with the declaration lodged by Palestine, it informs the current legal status of Palestine for the interpretation and application of article 12.
8. The Office could in the future consider allegations of crimes committed in Palestine, should competent organs of the United Nations or eventually the Assembly of States Parties resolve the legal issue relevant to an assessment of article 12 or should the Security Council, in accordance with article 13(b), make a referral providing jurisdiction.

IntLawGrrls' prior posts on Palestine available here.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Amnesty International responded to this development, urging the Prosecutor to reconsider the decision and seek a judicial determination of this questions of jurisdiction rather than referring it to bodies that are inherently political. See here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/018/2012/en