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Registrar urges solid foundations for International Criminal Court

Addressing the eighth session of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in New York on Monday 1 October Mr. Adama Dieng, Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), said that he wished “to open a window into some practical aspects of the functioning of an international criminal jurisdiction. I would like to invite you to rely on us as a live resource”.

Mr. Dieng first remembered the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in New York saying that this was “an important time to remember that, since World War II, nations of the world have endeavoured together to create a fair and independent global system of justice, able to bring individual perpetrators of massive crimes to trial, in the hope of deterrence of further violence and in the hope of peace”.

He said that the ICC’s success would depend upon “its capacity to execute, from entry into force; those functions entrusted to it as a global public service. To that end basic systems such as security plans, staff rules, procurement rules, computer systems and archiving systems would need to be in place. … As the ICC carves its own path, taking note of our technical experience in these areas may help it identify what will fit best.”

The international community will be expecting the ICC to perform from day one. “It might not be expected to perform as smoothly as a world class theatre company to begin with, but it will need to perform nonetheless. If the foundations, administrative as well as judicial, are not in place, the result will be that the ICC will have to install everything from cables and lighting, to hiring a cast, to rehearsing the script - all while the audience is already seated, and the play has already begun. …It cannot be emphasised enough that the ICC should benefit from as much early planning as possible, so that when it does begin to function, solid foundations are in place.”

Mr. Dieng paid tribute to the work already accomplished by the Preparatory Commission and added that defence counsel have a key role to play in defending the cases against individuals who are presumed to be innocent. “In a world dominated by global media, it is of vital importance that, while the media and international community might pre-judge a case, such judgments must not be confused with due legal process, and the need to prove an individual guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. The equality of arms between the parties is sacrosanct … It is our duty to work towards a system of assistance to the defence, which is fair and equal. The legal aid programme of the ICC should be established early on, in a neutral environment. It is equally, if not more important, to ensure a system of justice that will not put innocent people behind bars, as a system of justice that will convict those responsible.

Referring to the victims of massive violence and war torn communities the ICTR Registrar stressed the importance of information outreach programmes in bringing the proceedings closer to the people, to inform them of what directly concerns them. He said “the role of outreach and communication in general may be factored in early on. Initially education for the general public of what the ICC is, and what it is not, of what the ICC may realistically achieve, and what it can not, is of much importance to the perceived success of the ICC.”

In order to enable numerous decisions to be taken rapidly in the face of unpredictable circumstances Mr. Dieng pointed out that flexible rules and procedures were required. In particular “the Registrar, while answerable to the Presidency, should benefit from sufficient financial authority over judicial as well as non-judicial aspects of the administration and servicing of the Court”.

The full text of Mr. Dieng’s address is annexed to the version of this Press release published on the Tribunal’s Website:

For information only - Not an official document

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