Oct 07

CALL FOR DELEGATES: 13th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC

Apply to Attend:

Event: 13th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court
Dates: December 8, 2014 – December 17, 2014
Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City, New York
Application Deadline: October 26, 2014

The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) is seeking American students and/or young professionals to serve as delegates to the 13th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court at the United Nations (ASP13). The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) is composed of states that joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is a legislative body that manages and oversees the ICC. This year, representatives of states parties will gather for general debate, reports on the activities of the Court, elections, including those of judges, amendments to the Rome Statute, discussions related to cooperation, and other matters.

Following training from CASIN staff and affiliates, delegates to ASP13 will observe proceedings, receive briefings from key stakeholders, including diplomats or NGO experts, and record their observations. In the past, notes taken by CASIN delegations have been used to support official NGO reports, journalistic accounts of the proceedings, and students’ own academic research and coursework.

To apply, please see the application instructions and complete the application form. To learn more, visit the official website of ASP13: http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/asp/sessions/documentation/13th-session/Pages/default.aspx. You may also contact  Maimoona Zia, Delegations Chair, Board of Directors at delegations@americanstudents.us for questions or comments. Please note that applications must be received by October 26, 2014.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2014/10/07/call-for-delegates-13th-session-of-the-assembly-of-states-parties-to-the-icc/

Jul 09

ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: CASIN is looking for two At-Large Board Members!

The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) is currently seeking to augment its Board of Directors by adding two At-Large members. Founded in 2000, CASIN represents students in American colleges and universities in the international policy-making community by leading delegations of students to international conventions and publishing scholarly journals under student leadership. The Board of Directors is the executive body of the organization with a rotating chairmanship. Board members are responsible for participating in monthly meetings (some virtual, some in-person) to develop organizational strategy and engage in organizational building.

At-Large Members will acquire skills in non-profit management, governance and leadership by freely contributing to the Publications Committee, the Recruitment Committee, the Fundraising Committee and the Delegations Committee.

Prospective candidates should be college graduates, current graduate/law students or young professionals, with a dedicated interest in international human rights and cross-disciplinary background. Applicants need not reside in New York City, as most of the work can be completed remotely.

If you are interested, please send your resume and cover letter to board@americanstudents.us!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2014/07/09/accepting-applications-casin-is-looking-for-two-at-large-board-members/

Jan 12

Call for Delegates: Apply to Attend the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN

Event: 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58)
Dates: March 10, 2014 – March 21, 2014
Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City, New York
Application Deadline: January 21, 2014

Would you like to observe diplomacy in action?
Are you passionate about international affairs?
Do you have knowledge of the United Nations and an interest in the status of women?
Apply to gain unprecedented access to the international policymaking process!

The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) is seeking American students and/or young professionals to serve as delegates to the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations (CSW58). The Commission’s 2014 priority theme is challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls, and the review theme is access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. The Commission will also discuss the emerging issue of women’s access to productive resources.

Following training from CASIN staff and affiliates, delegates to CSW58 will observe proceedings, receive briefings from key stakeholders, including diplomats or NGO experts, and record their observations. In the past, notes taken by CASIN delegations have been used to support official NGO reports, journalistic accounts of the proceedings, and students’ own academic research and coursework.

To apply, see the application guide and complete the application form. To learn more, visit the official website of CSW58. You may also contact Maimoona Zia, Delegations Chair, Board of Directors at delegations@americanstudents.us. Please note that applications must be received by January 21, 2014.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2014/01/12/call-for-delegates-apply-to-attend-the-58th-session-of-the-commission-on-the-status-of-women-at-the-un/

Nov 17

Tell Us Which United Nations Meeting You Would Want to Attend as a Member of CASIN’s Delegation!

CASIN is planning its next delegation. Which United Nations meeting would you prefer to attend if given the opportunity- the 52nd Session of the Commission for Social Development (Feb 11-21, 2014)or 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 10-21, 2014) Give us your input by taking this one-question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QLPSXT8.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/11/17/tell-us-which-united-nations-meeting-you-would-like-to-attend-as-a-member-of-casins-delegation/

Oct 09

Eyes on the ICC Volume 9 (2012-2013) is now available!

Eyes on the ICC 9 Cover 2013_Page_1

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/10/09/eyes-on-the-icc-volume-9-2012-2013-is-now-available/

Oct 08

The Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law Volume 7 (2012-2013) is now available!

IJHRL 7 Cover_Page_1

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/10/08/the-interdisciplinary-journal-of-human-rights-law-volume-7-2012-2013/

Jul 17

CASIN July 2013 Newsletter – Voices of the Future

Summer 2013 Newsletter: Celebrating International Criminal Justice Day &
Summary of the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

With a video interview with AMICC, delegate summaries, and more . . .

For the full newsletter:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/07/17/casin-july-2013-newsletter-voices-of-the-future/

Dec 30

CASIN Delegate Andrew Zapata Reviews the ICC’s 11th Session of the ASP

From 13 November 2012 to 21 November 2012, I served as a CASIN delegate to the International Criminal Court’s (“ICC”) Eleventh Session of the Assembly of States Parties (“ASP”) in The Hague, Netherlands. This experience offered a unique look at the way in which policy and procedure underpin an international legal institution. Three observations fascinated me throughout the formal plenary sessions and the informal side meetings. First, I developed a better understanding of how states parties advocated the views of their governments in a large, multilateral setting. Second, I noticed the collaborative tone adopted by states parties while presenting different issues over the course of the ASP. Third, I was surprised to see how actively involved the NGOs were in the formal and informal sessions. This memorandum will further discuss my observations at this year’s ASP and explain how I believe this experience has helped strengthen my understanding of international legal issues.

Many voices were heard at this year’s ASP. In addition to the 121 states parties to the Rome Statute, this year’s meeting was attended by a handful of non-party states and NGOs. With a full slate of agenda items to cover, it was incumbent on the delegates to respect the procedural constraints and ensure that each session ran smoothly and concluded in a timely manner. The only wrinkle seemed to be the five rounds of voting required to elect Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart. However, this must be viewed as a necessary consequence of the democratic and transparent nature of the ICC’s procedural mechanisms. Towards the end of the ASP, there was an amendment proposed by Belgian delegate Mr. Gérard Dive. After a few responses from other states parties, it became clear that the amendment did not have the support necessary to ensure its passage. Instead of pushing the envelope, Mr. Dive took the cooperative step of withdrawing the amendment from consideration. Multilateral institutions must possess a collective awareness of the need for cooperation, and after attending the ASP I believe that the International Criminal Court possesses this trait.

In both the formal plenary sessions and the informal side sessions, there were several examples of states parties collaborating to moderate and facilitate discussion on trending international legal issues. On 19 November 2012, Denmark and South Africa moderated the formal session on complementarity, or the idea that the ICC can only prosecute crimes once the national courts have failed to do so. The shared European and African perspectives helped legitimize the discussion on complementarity. The Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Villy Søvndal, noted that “increased international cooperation on building and further developing the ability of states to prosecute the most heinous crimes at the national level” was essential to the functioning of both the ICC and domestic criminal courts. The states parties participating in this discussion echoed the comments of Denmark and South Africa. Countries also collaborated on moderating informal side sessions over the course of the ASP. For example, on 20 November 2012, Colombia, Tunisia, and the Victims Rights Working Group co-hosted an event addressing the importance and challenges of victim participation. The commendable efforts of states parties from various parts of the world to facilitate discussion on important international legal rights issues was essential to the success of this year’s ASP.

The work of the NGOs at the ASP was noticeable in both formal and informal sessions. During the general debate, the floor was yielded to a variety of organizations, including the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (“CICC”), the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Amnesty International. More importantly, NGOs moderated and co-hosted side sessions with states parties, including, for example, the Europe Strategy Consultation meeting co-hosted by the CICC and Cyprus. In years past, NGOs were often marginalized in the meetings of large, multilateral institutions and relegated to strict observer status. In the last couples decades, however, there has been a dramatic shift in the role played by NGOs, so much in fact that in this year’s ASP, not only were NGOs fundamental to the meeting’s success, but they were openly lauded by states parties for their efforts. For example, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Urmas Paet, noted that “governments, civil society and international organizations strive to strengthen domestic jurisdiction when dealing with Rome Statute crimes,” and asked attendees to remember “that civil society has significantly supported both the establishment and the work of the Court.” With the understanding that the work of NGOs has been essential to the success of the ICC, serving as a delegate for CASIN was extremely rewarding and enriching.

The International Criminal Court’s Eleventh Session of the Assembly of States Parties was beneficial to all parties involved. Among other achievements, attendees cooperated with each other to pass next year’s budget, elect a new Deputy Prosecutor, and confront pressing issues of international law. Having the chance to serve as a delegate with CASIN enriched my understanding of the bureaucratic processes underpinning the legal operations of the International Criminal Court. Going forward, I would like to continue to stay involved in the work of NGOs with respect to the ICC and other international legal bodies, and see that others get involved as well. Having this comprehensive, international exposure to an event like the ASP will surely help me as I continue my legal studies in New York City and prepare for post-graduate employment.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/30/casin-delegate-andrew-zapata-reviews-the-iccs-11th-session-of-the-asp/

Dec 29

CASIN Delegate Katherine Ball Reviews the 11th Assembly of States Parties to the ICC

CASIN Delegate with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court in The Hague

A delegation of five students and young professionals representing the Council of American Students in International Negotiations (“CASIN”) attended the eleventh session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), at the World Forum in the Hague, the Netherlands, from the 14th to the 22nd of November, 2012. The session, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute, provided a forum both for reflection on the achievements and lessons of the Court over the past decade, and for cognizance and discussion of issues affecting the ICC’s maturing role as the independent body prosecuting crimes of gravest concern to the international community in complementarity with states.

The CASIN delegation participated under the umbrella of AMICC, the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the ICC, the U.S. national network of the CICC, or Coalition to the International Criminal Court, a global coalition comprised of 2,500 civil society organizations (“CSOs”) in 150 different countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC. Delegations from approximately 90 of the 121 states parties attended the Assembly, as well as numerous observer states and CICC members.

The Assembly was marked by numerous noteworthy events. A new Deputy Prosecutor, James Stewart of Canada, was elected for a nine year term. Although the contested election required five rounds of voting, an objective examination showed Mr. Stewart’s particular merit, being the only bilingual candidate and the only candidate with extensive international criminal legal experience. Election of five member the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims and the nine member Advisory Committee on Nominations proceeded by consensus.

The Assembly also adopted a new Rule of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 132bis, allowing consolidation of pre-trial work under a single judge. The measure, with great potential to improve efficiency at the pre-trial state, was a positive example of using feedback of the court itself to enhance function. The notion was proposed by the Judicial Chambers to the Working Group on Amendments, who codified it in Rule 132bis. The insertion marked the second time that amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provided a means of altering court procedures without amending the Rome Statute itself, a complex process which would require ratification of any changes by the individual states parties.

Conflicts over passage of the 2013 Budget Resolution were anticipated to occupy large portions of the Plenary Sessions, but were avoided, thanks to behind the scenes efforts by Ambassador Hakan Emsgard of Sweden, and interventions by key states. The 2013 Budget allocation of 115.1 million Euros adopted the recommendations of the Committee on Budget and Finance. The question of who would be responsible for rent costs of the court’s current interim premises, an expense of approximately 6 million Euros annually, resulted in a compromise, with the Court absorbing half the costs and Netherlands and Mexico stepping forward to cover the balance. The budget continues to take a central role in ASP Plenary Sessions; as emphasized by Amnesty International both in their general debate intervention and their published recommendations, the prospect of a “zero growth” budget or selective defending may be the greatest single threat “undermining the Court’s work, including the ability of an independent Prosecutor to respond to impunity in all situations under the Court’s jurisdiction.”
In an unprecedented step, portions of the Plenary Sessions were specifically allocated to the topics of complementarity and state cooperation with the ICC, reflecting growing recognition of the centrality of these issues to the future efficacy of the Court. A plenary session specifically dedicated to complementarity marked a high note, reflecting the highly reiterated tenet that the primary responsibility in prosecuting grave crimes under the Rome Statute is with the states, with ICC involvement only if states are themselves unwilling or unable to act. The session came at a time where efforts towards complementarity by members took on a new urgency, with the increasing occurrence of grave acts potentially within the jurisdiction of the court. The keynote address by Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP”), noted the great potential for UNDP Rule of Law and Governance programs already aimed at judicial capacity building to focus on specific capacity to prosecute atrocity crimes. National submissions underscored both the primacy of national prosecutions and the need to strengthen and enable such mechanisms through enactment of national legislation. The focus resulted in adoption, at the end of the assembly, of the first ever ASP resolution on complementarity.

State Cooperation was the second new stand-alone Plenary subject of discussion. This achievement was highly significant since the ICC, unlike national courts, has no direct powers of enforcement outside of very limited circumstances and relies upon states parties to conduct investigations, arrest suspects, protect witnesses, or compel witnesses to attend trial. The keynote speaker, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, discussed both challenges and successes in cooperation leading to arrest of 100% of the 161 persons indicted by the ICTY. Interventions by states acknowledged the necessity of cooperation in enabling the Court to effectively function, and urged the importance of follow-through and political will in effecting compliance.

This year was the first year that dedicated Cooperation and Complementarity discussions were scheduled within the Plenary Session. During the Court’s first decade, discussion of substantive issues during the Plenary was largely limited to debate over the content of the Omnibus Resolution, with side resolutions such as the 2011 resolution on Cooperation adopted by consensus. Further consideration of issues was reserved for Working Groups, side events hosted by civil society organizations, and informal discussion. The effect of this was twofold: First, substantive issues of potentially great import to the Court’s success were sidelined from main discussions, creating perhaps unintended de-emphasis. Secondly, the non-formal setting for substantive discussion of these issues, whether through informal talks or meetings scheduled in tiny rooms at times often conflicting with the Plenary itself or other side-events, was not conducive to a forum in which all state party participants and interested CSOs could thoroughly discuss subject matter. As the Court enters its second decade, attention the Assembly must naturally extend beyond the preliminary issues characterizing the establishment of the Court to long-term challenges to Court efficacy and function implicating judicial, technical, diplomatic, and political assistance on a national and civil society level. In light of current realities, Complementarity and Cooperation are likely to remain on the Plenary Agenda in the foreseeable future.

Additionally of note were numerous side-events coordinated by the CICC involving regional governments and civil society organizations. Regional meetings, such as the 11/17 CICC Regional Meeting with Middle East and North African Governments, bringing together government representatives of the MENA region, and the 11/17 MENA Regional Strategy Meeting, open to all with an interest in or working in the region, provided intensely valuable forums for regional players to discuss concerns and issues specific to the region. The CICC MENA Government meeting, for example, allowed a forum for regional information such as status reports on ratification and implementation by MENA nations, and for discussion of issues of concern such as non-referral of Syria, the question of Palestinian non-membership to the ICC, and the compatibility of the Rome Statute with Sharia. At the MENA Regional Strategy Meeting, regional CSOs spoke to successes and challenges in addressing issues pertinent to the court in the MENA region, such as capacity building and rule of law initiatives, the need to refer the Syria situation to the ICC, the strong desire of certain Libyan NGOs to see Libya build the capacity to try Libyan indictees in Libya under the complementarity principle.

The Assembly concluded with the passage, by consensus, of eight resolutions: The Omnibus Resolution, the Budget Resolution, Amendment of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Permanent Premises, the Independent Oversight Mechanism, Cooperation, Complementarity, Victims and Reparations, as well as one Recommendation concerning election of the Registrar of the International Criminal Court. The 12th Assembly of States Parties to the ICC will occur on November 20-28, 2013, at the Hague, Netherlands.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/29/casin-delegate-katherine-ball-reviews-the-11th-assembly-of-states-parties-to-the-icc/

Dec 29

Shannon Powers, CASIN Delegate, Reports on the 11th Session of the ICC Assembly of States-Parties

Serving as a CASIN delegate to the 11th Session of the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States-Parties (ASP) in The Hague was an invaluable experience. The ASP is the annual meeting of representatives from all states that have ratified the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute and are thereby members of the Court. Also in attendance were non-state member observers, representatives from international organizations and civil society groups. The ASP serves as the political body of the Court, and its working days are filled with questions of institutional governance, such as approving the Court’s annual budget, electing Court officials and ASP Bureau committee members, and amending the operational rules and structures of the Court. Since CASIN attends the ASP under the accreditation of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), I was also invited to partake in the CICC’s strategy sessions. In these meetings, representatives of NGOs from around the world raised issues that concerned them, and the CICC Secretariat discussed structural and substantive developments in the work of the ASP and its impact on civil society’s relations with the Court.

The ASP sessions are dynamic meetings that are typically scheduled for a period of eight working days. Although much preparation and substantive details are ironed out prior to the ASP meeting in working groups, the convening of the ASP is the only opportunity for all states-representatives to gather in one place and engage in dialogue with one another and representatives of international organizations and civil society. The schedule, which is constantly revised as states progress in their negotiations, is packed with formal, recorded, plenary sessions, as well as so-called “side-events” organized by civil society. There are also several periods scheduled for informal consultations among state representatives. It is therefore impossible to know at the outset what will transpire or be accomplished.

Budget negotiations are one example of the dynamism of the ASP. Going into this session, there was great concern that despite the austerity of the proposed budget, the plenary sessions would be dominated by wrangling among state-representatives. Many feared the difficult economic times and the incentive of some states to withhold the resources needed by the Court to handle its workload would prevail. Perhaps because of the gravity of these concerns, intensive preparatory work was conducted by the Committee on Budget and Finance and the ASP Working Groups in The Hague and New York, as well as informally among states at the ASP. Ultimately, a consensus on the budget was reached using a silent procedure, meaning that it was not even raised at the formal sessions; in fact, the ASP concluded one day ahead of schedule.

Reactions to the budget reflected the diverse concerns of the ASP attendees. While everyone seemed pleased that state-representatives had managed to pass a budget without dominating the ASP’s meetings, many remained worried that it was too lean to adequately finance the different aspects of the Court’s work. Some were concerned that the budget would impact the legal work of the Court, such as thorough investigations and the effective prosecution of cases. Others were focused on the non-legal, yet nevertheless essential, functions of the Court, such as outreach to affected communities and witness protection. Still others, especially among civil society groups, protested the budget cuts on legal aid, which finances defense and victim’s counsel, reflecting a human rights-based concern with fair trial guarantees. Some civil society representatives also continued to voice frustration over the UN Security Council practice of referring situations to the Court while expressly exempting the UN from paying for such work. Finally, several state-representatives made clear that the onus was on the Court to learn to do more with less by evaluating costs and ensuring maximum efficiency and waste-reduction.

By participating in the ASP with CASIN, I also realized just how important and effective a role civil society groups play in the functioning of the ICC. The CICC brings the various NGOs together, providing them with access and opportunities to raise the issues they care about, to inform ASP delegates and the attentive public on these issues, and to make recommendations for their resolution. The side events that round out the agenda of the ASP are all coordinated through the CICC and offer unique opportunities for conversation between representatives of states, NGOs, and international organizations. I found these sessions to be educational and well-attended, and the question periods always evoked thought-provoking discussion.

Additionally, the CICC organized private session for its NGO members to meet as a group with the ICC President Sang-Hyun Song, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and Special Gender Advisor Brigid Inder for one hour each. Not only did these sessions enable the court officials to update civil society representatives on their work, priorities and upcoming plans, but it provided the civil society representatives with an opportunity to convey their thoughts, concerns, and impressions of the Court’s work to these officials. I was impressed with the genuine reciprocity involved in these discussions and the attentiveness the court officials displayed. In particular, the Prosecutor emphasized several times throughout the week her commitment to working closely with civil society and made clear that she would welcome any information on cases they could provide on situations that were or should be before the Court.

The CICC’s advocacy can also have a structural impact on the work of the ASP, which was particularly apparent this year. Largely thanks to the CICC, this was the first session to include substantive discussions in the formal plenary meetings. Two meetings were devoted to the topic of cooperation with the court, and the principle of complementarity, or national primary in prosecution for atrocity crimes, respectively. The inclusion of formal substantive discussions at the ASP is an important development, as the formal sessions are virtually the only times during which representatives of all states-parties, as well as non-state-parties observers and civil society representatives, convene in one room with time and space for genuine dialogue.

The formal sessions of the ASP revealed states’ positions and preferences for the Court, as well as practical and innovative solutions to the questions of cooperation and complementarity. In virtually all of their statements, state representatives recognized that, as the ASP commemorated the 10th year since the Rome Statute entered into force, the Court was here to stay and had accomplished much in its first decade, but also that there would be challenges ahead. Speakers implored the Court to conduct lessons-learned evaluations and to make improvements based on their findings. The cooperation discussion considered how states could help enable investigations, effect arrest warrants, and prevent the free movement of fugitives. The complementarity discussion explored the ways in which domestic capacity-building and transitional justice efforts can have spillover effects on the affected state’s rule of law and development generally, thereby improving overall governance and welfare.

Understanding statements made by states-parties representatives can be an exercise in diplomacy and requires contextual knowledge and reading between the lines. For example, in their statements and interventions, many state-parties representatives emphasized national primacy over prosecution for atrocity crimes and detailed their domestic legislative and legal efforts to that end. These moves can be seen in a positive light since the ICC was meant to take jurisdiction only in cases where domestic governments are unwilling or unable to effectively prosecute international crimes. These statements, however, can also be intended to detract attention and resources from the Court, and even to reassert state control in order to circumvent prosecution of a state’s nationals. It is therefore worth looking closely at the domestic activities highlighted by these states to ensure that they are engaged in genuine accountability efforts, and not merely symbolic acts devoid of substance.

Participating in the ASP meeting as a CASIN delegate was a unique experience that provided me with rich detail and knowledge of the event beyond what I could have gleaned from second-hand reporting. I left with a more nuanced understanding of the political machinations at work and the different state interests at play when negotiating state obligations and support of this legal institution. I also have much deeper insight into the crucial role played by civil society, the concrete changes they have achieved, and the responsiveness of the Court to their concerns. Beyond this invaluable learning experience, I truly enjoyed meeting my co-delegates, each of whom brought a unique background and perspective on the ASP. I look forward to further involvement with CASIN and helping to expand and deepen the network of students involved in international negotiations.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/29/shannon-powers-casin-delegate-reports-on-the-11th-session-of-the-icc-assembly-of-states-parties/

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