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Every three years, judicial elections are held to fill six judicial vacancies at the Court, thereby replacing one third of the ICC judges and thus significantly changing the bench’s composition. The new judges are officially sworn in during a ceremony and serve for a non-renewable term of nine years. In the situation that a judge resigns, an election is organized for the replacement of this judge. The new judge will then stay on for the rest of the term.
The six judges who obtain the highest number of votes and a two-thirds majority of votes are elected during different rounds of elections. Judicial elections at the ICC are a time consuming process that can lead up to more than thirty rounds of voting.
Article 36 of the Rome Statute requires that candidates have established competence in criminal law and procedure and the necessary relevant experience in criminal proceedings (list A candidates) or in relevant areas of international law and extensive experience in a professional legal capacity (list B candidates). The rules on the procedure for the nomination and election of judges of the ICC require that at all times at least nine judges shall be from list A and at least five from list B. In addition, States Parties are required to take into account equitable geographical representation, a fair gender balance and representation of the principal legal systems of the world. To this end, elections are subject to minimum voting requirements determined by a formula established with regard to the judges remaining on the bench.
While a judicial candidate must be a national of a State Party to the Rome Statute, the candidate can be nominated by any State Party and is not required to be nominated by the state of which the candidate is a national. Candidates must possess the qualifications required in their respective State for appointment to the highest judicial offices.
In an effort to identify the best candidates and provide transparent and accurate information regarding their respective qualifications and professional background, the Coalition seeks input from national, regional, and international NGOs throughout its global network.
Educate and Promote Highest Qualified Nominations
The Coalition and like-minded governments succeeded in securing important provisions in the Rome Statute to enhance qualifications, to foster genuine elections, and insure equitable gender representation. The Coalition is now committed to ensuring the full application of these provisions.
Since the first elections in 2003, the Coalition has helped publicize and raise awareness on the elections and candidates. The Coalition asks all nominees to fill out questionnaires that provide additional information about the candidates’ qualifications. The Coalition seeks to interview all candidates, hold public seminars with available candidates and experts, and host public debates between the candidates. These actions will help enable nominees to expand on their respective qualifications and expertise, as well as to promote fully-informed decision-making by State Parties delegates.
Article 36 4(c) of the Rome Statute provides that the ASP may establish an Advisory Committee on Nominations. In the omnibus resolution adopted during the 10th session of the ASP, the recommendations of the Bureau on the Advisory Committee were adopted, establishing and mandating the committee to provide objective assessments of the nominated candidates, guided by the applicable provisions of article 36 of the Rome Statute. The committee is intended to facilitate the election of the highest qualified individuals as judges of the ICC, and is as such an initiative encouraged and welcomed by the Coalition. At the 11th session of the ASP the first report on the Committee was presented by the Working Group.
The Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections
The Advisory Committee builds on the work of the Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections, set up by the Coalition in 2010 to raise awareness and assess the qualifications of ICC judicial candidates.
In 2011 the Panel helped fill a significant gap in the elections process: the need for a competent, fair, independent assessment of whether each nominee fulfills the qualifications prescribed by the Rome Statute. As with the Coalition, the Panel neither endorsed nor opposed any individual candidate in the 2011 elections.
Following the establishment of the Advisory Committee the Independent Panel discontinued its work.
More on the Advisory Committee on Nominations
For more information on the election of ICC Judges, please contact Matthew Cannock.