Thank you for inviting me to participate in the conversation between the ICC and leading NGOs working to prevent and alleviate human suffering related to civil conflict.
Today we are likely to address many of the issues we talked about in March and June of 2005, when MacArthur facilitated a dialogue between the Prosecutor and some of the organizations represented here on the situations in Northern Uganda and Darfur.
As most of you know, MacArthur has a long-term interest in helping develop a system of international justice with the ICC as the centerpiece. Starting with a grant to bring NGOs from the South to Rome during the Conference that gave birth to the Court, MacArthur has supported 29 organizations working on various pieces of the challenge. Some examples:
While we strongly support the Court, we believe the public interest is served by facilitating independent evaluations of the Court free to make critical or challenging commentary. Hence our support for the International Bar Association's project monitoring and evaluating ICC procedures and its outreach programs in the developing world. And we will do more.
I was very pleased to see the paper on future prosecutorial strategy for two reasons. First, I have been urging the Court to articulate its plan and establish reasonable expectations. Others have more ambitious expectations - or perhaps fears - and it is useful to have a point of reference to judge. Second, by laying out the plan, there can be a healthy debate about the scope and limits of the Court's strategy. This meeting is an essential part of that discussion and I commend the Prosecutor for reaching out to NGOs in this spirit of partnership.
While NGOs must always be free to criticize the work of the Court, I do think they have a responsibility to explain what the Court is doing. Not endorse it, but build an accurate factual record with people in affected countries who deserve to learn about the Court's work from a trusted source.
With that said, I believe the Report on Prosecutorial Strategy is clear and compelling. The objectives of completing two separate trials and opening 4 - 6 new investigations in three years seem reasonable. The emphasis on helping accelerate arrests of those indicted and sensitivity to the role of victims and witnesses is right. As I understand it, the Registry is responsible for developing the Victims Trust Fund, but it would be good to hear more about that today.
I like the reference under part VI to positive complementarity and to documenting instances where the existence of the Court has improved national justice practices - both in modifying laws to conform with treaty obligations and in spurring more vigorous prosecutions of those just below the level of the ICC's focus. It may be that a new form of hybrid Court will be necessary for those too hot to handle by existing national courts.
I also like the goal of documenting instances where the existence of the Court might have a deterrent or modulating effect. It may take years to build a record that is persuasive, but the effort should start now.
Given how busy the Court is, I would think the documentation of the Court's impact on national judicial systems and the preventive dimension would best be done independently.
Let me close with a few concerns:
Let me conclude by reaffirming the broad vision underlying the strategic plan: all of us here are engaged in an historic opportunity. The world is on the cusp of having an integrated international system of justice -- and I underscore the words "integrated system."
The ICC has rightly defined itself, setting norms and standards and limiting itself to a few leaders in the most serious situations where national courts are unable or unwilling to act. But an integrated system of international justice will be a seamless web encompassing the ICC, national courts, traditional justice and reconciliation processes, and perhaps a new form of hybrid court. And let us not forget regional Human Rights Commissions and Courts, which are playing an increasingly important role in pushing back arbitrary and illegal practices in Europe, Latin America, and in Africa. Respect for norms, laws and rules are an indivisible concept - respect begets respect. The reverse is also true: relatively minor violations of human rights are the building blocks for gross abuses later on.
So I conclude by thanking the Court and the Prosecutor for your vision of an integrated system of international justice. You can count on MacArthur to help you, other regional courts and commissions, and the civil society organizations that are playing such an indispensable role.