Skip to main content

Press releases

Default title

01 December 2000

Preparatory Commission for the
International Criminal Court
1 December 2000
25th Meeting (AM)

Working Group Chairman Reports on Discussions; Updates Also Offered
On Financial Arrangements, Relationship of New Body with United Nations

The Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court met briefly this morning to hear update reports from the coordinators of its working groups on financial arrangements for the Court and the relationship of the Court to the United Nations.

The Coordinator for the working group on the crime of aggression also reported on the meetings held on that subject.

(For further information on the current session of the Preparatory Commission and on the International Criminal Court, see Press Release L/2965 of 24 November.)

The Chairman of the Preparatory Commission, Philippe Kirsch (Canada), announced that Saeid Mirzaee-Yengejeh (Iran) would be the contact point for the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly of States Parties and for the budget for the first financial year. Zsolt Hetesy (Hungary) would be the contact point for the Basic Principles Governing a Headquarters Agreement with the Host Country.

Also, the Commission invited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in the meetings.

The Court, which is to be a permanent judicial body with jurisdiction over certain serious international crimes committed by individuals, will become operational once the treaty establishing it -- commonly referred to as the Rome Statute -- receives 60 ratifications. So far, 117 countries have signed the treaty and 24 have ratified it (Germany, the twenty-fourth country, intends to deposit its ratification shortly). The treaty is with the Secretary-General and will remain open for signature until 31 December 2000.

The Preparatory Commission is to meet again at a date to be announced.

Updates from Coordinators

CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile), Coordinator for the Working Group on the Relationship Agreement between the Court and the United Nations, said the group had had a general exchange of views and had discussed the draft of the agreement, article by article, up to article 7. He said he would prepare a document that included proposals made during the discussion. The group intended to try to finish a first reading of the text during the current session. Afterwards, it would move to negotiations on the text.

GEORG WITSCHEL (Germany), Coordinator of the Working Group on Financial Regulations, said that group had completed a preliminary examination on first reading of the 14 regulations and their annex contained in working paper L.1 prepared by the Secretariat, which was the basis of discussion.

He said the working group then held informal consultations in the course of which a more detailed analysis of the text of each regulation was undertaken, to achieve agreed formulations. Delegations made concrete proposals, either orally or in written form. The informal consultations resulted in further examination of 10 of the 14 draft regulations contained in the discussion paper.

Although a certain number of issues were still the subject of conflicting views, progress had been achieved towards an agreed formulation on a number of regulations, or portions of such regulations.

TUVAKO MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania), Coordinator of the Working Group on the Crime of Aggression, said the group had entered a new phase at the current session of the Preparatory Commission. Deliberations took place, formally and informally, on several proposals and papers contained in the consolidated text on the crime of aggression reproduced in annex II to the proceedings of the fifth session of the Preparatory Commission (document PCNICC/2000/L.3/Rev.1).

He said the working group also had before it two new papers: an informal discussion paper by Germany (contained in PCNICC/WGCA/DP.4) and an explanatory paper by Greece relating to its 1999 proposal (issued in 1999 as PCNICC/1999/ WGCA/DP.1) on the crime of aggression, jointly submitted with Portugal. The Greek/Portuguese paper had since been issued as document PCNICC/2000/WGCA/DP.5, he stated.

He told the meeting that the working group’s discussions focused primarily on those two new papers -- without prejudice to other proposals -– and their differences and similarities in approach had engendered a wide-ranging and rich debate. On the question of the definition of the crime of aggression, he said differing views were expressed as to the current content of customary international law relating to international criminal law, and the relevance of instruments developed subsequent to the Nuremberg Charter.

Views also differed, he said, as to whether a distinction needed to be made between the violation of the prohibition of the use of force in article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter, and “acts” of aggression, “wars” of aggression, and the “crime” of aggression. Another issue was whether the definition would need to contain a “threshold” above which the future International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction would be triggered, and if so what it should be.

He said there were divided views concerning the intent for use of force having a bearing on its legality. That question, he added, primarily focused on the place of humanitarian intervention in the context of the working group’s task. There were still divisions among delegations on the question of “a generic” definition in the Greek/Portuguese proposal. Some delegations said the list of specific acts could more appropriately be placed in the Elements of Crimes category.

Similarly, he said, numerous views were expressed about the relationship between the International Criminal Court and the Security Council, and the question of the conditions for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction. The Coordinator said many speakers considered the Greek/Portuguese proposal as a useful starting point for the group’s discussions, while others expressed concern that the Security Council’s role under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter might be jeopardized. Still, others were of the view that the proposal merited further development to ensure the independence and proper functioning of the Court.

The Coordinator reported that the working group made progress in the light of what transpired at its meetings. He observed that many speakers commented on the focused nature and political importance of the debate. The significant level of scrutiny of the Greek/Portuguese proposal had already resulted in the submission of a revised text, he said. There was, however, a consensus in the working group that any definition for the crime of aggression, and the condition for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction, should be consistent with the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter and paragraph 2 of article 5 of the Statute.

There was also a consensus in the group that such a definition should not interfere with the independence and the integrity of the Court. From the consensus on those basic premises, he said the group was working its way towards a concrete text that could be acceptable to all.

* *** *