|Conference: Bucharest 9 - 11 May 2003
ICC: Implementation in Central and Eastern Europe
| Final Report
This report is a summary of the international conference entitled "International Criminal Court (ICC): Implementation in Central and Eastern Europe." This conference took place in Bucharest, Romania, between 9-11 May 2003. The two main purposes of the meeting were to examine the degree of execution of the Rome Statute already achieved by Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European States, and to exchange implementation information among states both inside and outside the region.
I. Sponsors and Organizers
Four organisations planned and administered this event: the International Criminal Law Society (ICLS); the German Foundation for International Legal Co-operation (IRZ); the Centre for Legal Resources (CRJ); and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC). The funding provided by the IRZ, CRJ, and CICC was generously supplemented by donations from the European Commission and the Foreign Offices of Canada, Germany, and Romania.
During the three days of the conference three categories of participants met and discussed issues relating to the implementation of the Rome Statute. First, there were government representatives of nearly all States of Central and Eastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldavia, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and the Ukraine. Second, there were officials from Western countries: Belgium, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Third, there were non-state individuals representing the ICC itself, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and international criminal law scholars. The organizers were especially privileged to welcome The Honorable Akua Kuenyehia, Vice-President of the International Criminal Court, as well as Phakiso Mochochoko and Cecilia Balteanu from the ICC Common Services Division. Altogether, officials from 28 states and representatives from various IGOs and NGOs participated in the discussions.
The focus of the conference agenda was on the implementation of the ICC Statute into domestic law by Eastern, Central, and Southeastern European States. The program contained six sections. The first part dealt with the international negotiations leading to the establishment of the ICC. The second part, which was split into three different panels, was devoted to the incorporation of substantial ICC law into domestic law. The panels touched on the implementation of general principles of criminal law (Part III of the ICC Statute), of international crimes (Part II of the ICC Statute), and different approaches of States towards the principle of universal jurisdiction. The third part was dedicated to international co-operation and judicial assistance as set out by Part IX of the ICC Statute. The fourth part of the program dealt with the responses of States in Eastern and Central Europe to these obligations. Encouragingly nearly all States invited to the conference could present own ideas, drafts or even final implementing legislation in relation to Part IX of the ICC Statute. The presentations were complemented by presentations on the Canadian, German and Swiss ICC-co-operation laws which are already in force. In another panel two presentations about arrest and surrender and the so called 'bilateral agreements' according to Article 98 ICC Statute led to further discussions. In particular, there was discussion of the emerging number of so called 'bilateral agreements' in the region of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Furthermore, the conference participants realized the need for detailed technical support to achieve full implementation. At the same time, representatives of the International Criminal Court and international scholars emphasised that certain flexibility in the cooperation provisions with the court is required. Insofar it was pointed out that flexible cooperation provisions in domestic law could always be complemented by a specific memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the individual State Party and the competent organ of the ICC.
It should be noted that the bilateral agreements were also touched upon during a reception hosted by Dr. Armin Hiller, the German Ambassador to Romania, and the press conference at the conclusion of the meeting.
In Part Five of the program, there were discussions on international and national prosecutions. Members of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Canadian Ministry of Justice, as well as of the ICTY (among them Gavin Ruxton, who is currently involved in the prosecution of Slobodan Miloševic, shared their experience with the audience. The last part of the conference dealt with the role of victims in (inter)national proceedings relating to transitional justice processes and complementary models to international criminal justice. Advocate Michael Verhaeghe, who represented victims in Belgian proceedings relating to the cases Pinochet, Guatemala and 'Sabra & Shatila', as well as Prof. William Shabas, currently member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone, addressed the participants.
A key goal of the organizers was to encourage the exchange of information among states in the region. The organizers believe this was achieved. Throughout the entire program presentations from eighteen Eastern and Central European States were made. As a result of these presentations, three categories of states could be identified in regard to their level of implementation of the ICC Statute.
First, only two states of the region could be considered very advanced in the implementation process: Poland and Hungary. They have either created or modified most or all international criminal offences in their domestic penal codes or have concrete ideas about how to do this. In addition, their co-operation laws with the ICC are well on their way or already completed.
Second, there are a small group of states that are still considering ratification or accession and implementation of the Rome Statute: the Czech Republic, the Republic of Moldavia, Turkey and the Ukraine.
Third, and by far containing the great majority of states in the region, are countries which have already ratified the Rome Statute and drafted implementing legislation or are in the process of actively doing so: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldavia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The vast majority of these States had already adopted provisions on war crimes and genocide in their domestic penal provisions. However, the majority of these states still has to create provisions on international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity which meet the standards of Article 7 of the ICC Statute. Only the additional creation of the latter category of crimes will enable these states to effectively prosecute crimes against humanity according to the principle of complementarity. In general, the States in this group are already in an advanced stage with regard to the creation of ICC-cooperation laws, have concrete ideas about the format of such laws or are at least seriously considering to draft such laws.
The conference was an encouraging reflection of the current status of implementation of the Rome Statute in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Although Moreno Ocampo, the new Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, was still awaiting his formal inauguration at the time the conference took place, many of the states in the conference region had obviously at least commenced the way to future co-operation with this institution. At the same time, the organizers and participants noted the political and legal impediments to the road leading to an effective judicial institution, in particular the emerging number of so called 'bilateral agreements' in the region of Central Eastern Europe as well as the need for detailed and technical implementation.
In conclusion, the exchange of information and contacts among state officials, scholars and representatives of civil society sent an encouraging sign that the Statute's goal of ending impunity for international crimes can be achieved in the future in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.