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Impact on victims and affected communities
The decision by the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) in November 2009 to include the impact of the Rome Statute system on victims and affected communities as one of the four stocktaking issues to be discussed at the Review Conference has been applauded by many NGOs, who offered their support and know-how to make the exercise truly meaningful, ensuring that this discussion offers a good opportunity to consider how victims and affected communities experience and perceive justice eight years after the entry into force of the Statute, while at the same time recognizing that the Court is still at a very early stage of its functioning.

The overarching goal for this stocktaking exercise was to have States recall how important the Rome Statute system and the Court are for victims and affected communities and to engage the latter in the Review Conference. For NGOs, this approach was particularly pertinent as it reinforced that victims and affected communities are stakeholders of the ICC system with valid interests in the proceedings and in the broader system as a whole. It recognized that their views count, as the direct and indirect beneficiaries of the Rome Statute system, and are significant for the Court’s future planning process.

Areport by the ASP Focal Points, Chile and Finland, gave the Resumed Session guidance and clarification how the issue could be dealt with at the Review Conference and in the lead up to the conference. The Focal Points consulted broadly from the very beginning of their efforts and included comments and suggestions from civil society experts and NGOs.

Following consultations and taking into account their recent trip to Uganda (as organized by NPWJ, HURINET and UCICC), the Focal Points proposed a focus on the following 3 areas: 1) The role of outreach in impacting victims’ expectations (of obtaining justice and their enhanced knowledge of their legal rights),
2) Especially in situation countries, the importance of recognizing victims’ rights to justice, participation and reparation, (including nationally and particularly for specific groups of victims, e.g. women and children) and;
3) A review of how the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) has contributed towards individual dignity, healing, rehabilitation, and empowerment and areas in which its work could be enhanced, including obtaining more funds.

In terms of format, the report suggested a panel discussion with diverse participation: which would focus on two subjects: (1) The role of outreach in creating the impact: challenges and solutions and (2) Victims’ participation and reparations as element of justice. Further, the Focal Points organised a lunch side event on the TFV.

The Focal Points also proposed specific outcomes, including the following elements: a report of the panel and related events as well as a resolution; that the results of the stocktaking exercise should also be incorporated into the Review Conference communications strategy in order to inform the broader public about the Court’s work on behalf of the affected communities. It was also proposed that other possible outcomes should include: commitments to contribute to the Trust Fund for Victims, commitments to adopt national legislation relevant to victims and affected communities, such as the preparation of victims as well as for the achievement of truth, justice and reparation; and commitments to conclude ad hoc agreements with the Court with regard to the victims and affected communities.

NGOs pointed out that the stocktaking exercise should contribute to identify areas in which the Court’s impact can be further strengthened, including where states can make their contributions. Also, NGOs have strongly supported concrete outcomes in terms of pledges, as included in the Focal Points’ report.

In keeping with the focal points’ efforts, the Victims Rights Working Group - a network of over 200 civil society groups and individual experts including from Uganda, DRC and Sudan - developed a questionnaire to assess the Court’s impact in particular areas. Questions, for example, refer to the impact on victims’ expectations of obtaining justice and on the local recognition of specific types of harm. The questionnaires were distributed to partner organizations on the ground and consultations are ongoing in Eastern DRC, Uganda as well as in other situation and non-situation countries.
NGO Letters, Papers, Reports, and Statements
Author Date and Title
Focal Points Chile and Finland (and experts)
28 Apr 2010
Discussion Paper for Review Conference
VRWG
22 Mar 2010
The Impact of the Rome Statute System on Victims and Affected Communities
UVF
Mar 2010
UVF Report on the Impact of the ICC on Victims and Affected Communities
VRWG
Feb 2010
Questionnaire on the Impact of the ICC on Victims and Affected Communities