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Courtside at Kampala: Chairman Shows His Hand

By: Ariela Blatter

Proposals on crime of aggression

Chairman Wenaweser, makes an appeal to states parties to make a deal. In his own words, he presents what has been agreed so far, as well as new text, never seen before, on two outstanding provisions that will be "voted" on in about 15 minutes:...What I am putting forward for your consideration is:

"my best attempt to capture a compromise on this topic, ....I am fully aware that this text does not meet with the suggestion made by any of you and that is in my experience of the nature of a compromise, at this stage of a negotiations. However, I am very much aware of the time. With your help, assistance and spirit of flexibility, we have come very far in our deliberation. I do believe we are very close to adopting a draft resolution on the crime of aggression that would be a very positive contribution to this Review Conference and beyond. I am also of the view that in our consultations so far that we have been able to overcome very significant difficulties and very significant concessions have been made. So I am asking you to consider this text..This is the last the step we can make, if we all can make it, and I am looking to your favorable response." 

Courtside at Kampala: The Waiting Game

By: Ariela Blatter

For the last 48 hours here in Kampala, I have been on tenderhooks with the knowledge that a deal on the crime of aggression was imminent. With Brazil and the non-aligned movement on one side, rumored to have Euorpean country support, and the P5 on the other (two of which, UK and France are state parties to the ICC), the trans-continental dance has been a frustratingly slow waltz and of late, more of a clumsy stumble.  However, according to the Chairman over the proceedings,  consensus is almost here-- which is the preferred method of amending the Rome Statute.  What States seem to have agreed on so far is the way the amendment will come into force- by about 2/3rds of state parties,  the definition of aggression, and how to prosecute the crime; the jurisdiction resting in the dominant hands of the UN Security Council, and to a lesser extent by the independent prosecutor and state parties. If the UN Security Council wants to stop the prosecutor from acting, it can do so but only if it acts affirmatively to delay the proceedings by a year. It also seems to be settled that this crime of aggression will not apply to non-state parties to the Rome Statute, or those who opt out, or as it seems "lodge a declaration" that the crime does not apply to them. What is not clear right now is when this deal will enter into force. The outstanding issue, besides if this will pass or not (or if anyone of us here in Kampala will get any sleep tonight) is if in seven years from now, in 2017 or so, states have to meet again and 2/3rds of countries need to vote in favor again for the crime to take affect, or in seven years the court can tackle this crime free and clear. 

CGS Applauds Life Sentences for Perpetrators of Bosnian Genocide

On Thursday, June 10th, the U.N.'s war crime tribunal on the Balkan wars handed down sentences of life in prison for two former high-ranking officers in the Bosnian Serb army, Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara.  Popovic and Beara were convicted of genocide, a charge stemming from the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.  The Srebrenica massacre was the largest mass killing in Europe since World War Two.

Additionally, another Bosnian Serb, former brigade security commander Drago Nikolic, was convicted and sentenced to a 35-year prison term for the crime of aiding and abetting genocide.  Others on trial were acquitted of genocide but convicted for extermination, murder, and persecution.

Meanwhile, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is also on trial for genocide due to the Srebrenica massacre, following his arrest in 2008.  Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, under whom the convicted officers served, remains at large as a fugitive 15 years after his own indictment.

GlobalSolutions.org believes strongly in the need for those individuals responsible for genocide to be brought to justice under international law.  We applaud the U.N. tribunal's decision as an important step in this direction.  For more information on genocide prevention, visit http://www.globalsolutions.org/genprev. To take action on genocide prevention and other related issues, visit http://www.globalsolutions.org/action/home.

Courtside at Kampala: Week One in Review Continued

John Washburn, Convener of the American NGO Coalition for the ICC

In any good relationship, you must stop along the way and assess what is working and what needs to be fixed. That was the intention behind a substantial amount of the focus of week one, to discuss the Court and the concept of international justice's progress since its inception.  I was pretty skeptical coming here about this portion of the Review Conference. Sitting in New York at the Assembly of State Parties meetings in preparation of Kampala, when it became clear that instead of the usual speeches or "interventions" as they are referred here, of states, IGO's and NGO's would be replaced by several hours of moderated panels set up for delegates to watch, but not necessarily participate in.

The topics covered this week include peace and justice, complementarity, cooperation, and the impact of the Rome Statue system on victims and affected communities. The reports of the working group can be found on the official website of the ICC Review Conference

Courtside at Kampala: Week One in Review

Ariela Blatter & Osvaldo Zavala Giller

Within the two professional fields that I am surrounded by in Kampala, diplomacy and advocacy, there is one constant; the precise and careful use of words. Of course there are many fields that this applies to, but none with such careful craftsmanship and double entendres as you experience with the double whammy of a room full of lawyers and diplomats working towards the goal of amending the Rome Statute of the ICC.  In some cases here, words are used literally, like the use of the term "deterrence." 

Listening closely to the statements made on the floor by States, Prosecutor Ocampo, President Song and others here, I was struck by the breadth of the use of the term "deterrence" in describing the impact of the ICC to date.  I had recently heard the ICC Prosecutor speak eloquently in Washington DC about the deterrence effect of the Court, most recently at the Council of Foreign Relations when he spoke of his idea of the "shadow of the court" impacting the actions of intended criminals. But it was very interesting to see state parties to the ICC embracing this concept so warmly. Although the Court has been plagued with the normal teething problems associated with setting up a judicial body, one of the most basic principles of criminal law, deterrence, is becoming widely accepted as extending to The Hague as well.  Having the meetings here in Uganda reinforced this idea, not because there are not abuses still happening in this country, which there are, but because Kampala will be the host of the upcoming African Union Summit and has made clear that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir is not welcome here.  Bashir, as you know, is being sought by the Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and potentially genocide.  His travel and livelihood have recently been severely curtailed by travel bans being issued by African members of the ICC. 

The Votes Are In....

Voters around the country headed to the polls on June 8th to vote in a series of primaries which will shape general election races this fall.  How do yesterday's results impact candidates endorsed by Global Solutions PAC?  Read on...

California

  • Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina won the Republican Senate primary by a wide margin, taking 54 percent of the vote compared to 26 percent for former Rep. Tom Campbell and 17 percent for state Assemblyman Chuck Devore.  Fiorina will face Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who has been endorsed by Global Solutions PAC, in the general election this fall.
  • In California's 36th congressional district, incumbent Rep. Jane Harman defeated challenger Marcy Winograd, who was endorsed by Global Solutions PAC, by a 61 to 39 percent margin.  We congratulate Marcy on a good race.

Nevada

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has been endorsed for re-election by Global Solutions PAC, now knows who his general election opponent will be.  He will face State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, who won 39 percent of the primary vote, beating out former Nevada Republican Party Chair Sue Lowden at 28 percent and Danny Tarkanian at 23 percent.

Arkansas

  • In another closely-watched Senate primary, incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) managed to avoid the fate of several other sitting Senators this year by holding off a primary challenge from Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.  Senator Lincoln won her primary 52 percent to 48 percent.  Global Solutions PAC has not yet made an endorsement in this race.

We'll keep you posted on future primary results involving or impacting Global Solutions PAC-endorsed candidates over the next few months.  

+ Learn more about our PAC and candidates we've endorsed and contributed to this year.

Who Does Global Solutions PAC Want to See in Congress Next Year?

The 2010 congressional campaign season is now in full swing, with voters across the country heading to the polls today to vote in primary elections which will shape contests in the fall.  In addition to supporting incumbent Senators and Representatives for re-election who have been strong advocates of GlobalSolutions.org' priorities while in office, CGS's Global Solutions Political Action Committee (PAC) has already made several endorsements of challengers in House and Senate races this year.

Global Solutions PAC supports challenger candidates who share CGS's commitment to international cooperation and whom we believe will be valuable allies in Congress.  Additionally, in order for Global Solutions PAC to endorse a challenger, the candidate must submit their Candidate Questionnaire to us for consideration.  To read the Candidate Questionnaires we've received so far this year, visit http://www.globalsolutions.org/politics/elections_and_candidates/races/2010?action=cq.

Below are details on the challenger candidates that Global Solutions PAC has endorsed so far in 2010 in the Senate and House of Representatives.  We'll keep you posted on future endorsements as they happen.

And of course, if there is a primary election in your state today, don't forget to vote!

SENATE

Robin Carnahan (D) - Missouri - Senate
Robin Carnahan is expected to face Rep. Roy Blunt in the general election for the Missouri Senate seat this November (the Democratic primary is on August 3).  Robin currently serves as Missouri Secretary of State, is an attorney, and previously worked in Central and Eastern Europe with the National Democratic Institute helping rebuild the region's economies and governments.  She is a supporter of CGS's positions on important international issues.

Courtside at Kampala: Officials Officiate and Pontificate (Week 1, Blog 6)

By: Ariela Blätter

Over the following two days (Monday and Tuesday) I would characterize the tenor of the meetings at Kampala as formal, and rife with pomp, circumstance and diplomacy. This was diplomacy in terms of the usual statements by delegations (Click here to read general statements from States Parties, Observer States, NGO's, International Organizations, etc.) on the floor that spend at least the first five minutes dripping with overwhelming praise for the chair (in fairness, the chairs do deserve it) of the Conference, Chairman Wenaweser, and Prince Zeid of the working group on aggression.  In my experience these statements are always, dare I say it, BORING.  These statements constitute the most formal, formulaic, and least revealing interventions by countries based on directions they receive from their governments before they ever arrive at the proceedings. Those kind of instructions never see the light of day for prying NGO eyes like mine, but I always imagine it would say something like this "you are instructed to say as little as possible in the longest way possible." Well, there was one exception- the President of Uganda- whose remarks bordered on bizarre, when he departed from his prepared remarks and pontificated on the benefits of protecting the "freedom fighter" and spoke of the use of what some would see as ‘unjust’ force as just, so long as the means of doing so were not illegal. After the excitement of having Uganda join the court and refer a situation to the Court which led to an arrest warrant for Kony, the positive sentiment around Uganda was taken down a notch when Museveni demonstrated that he had never read the Rome Statute.

Click HERE to see the Review Conference's Official Photo Gallery

Courtside at Kampala: The Road from Kampala and Beyond (Week 1, Blog 5)

By: Ariela Blätter

I captured highlights of the remarks in the afternoon, when Ban and Annan spoke at the event "The Road from Kampala and Beyond: looking back at the historic Rome Conference and forward to the future of international justice and the Rome Statute system."

VIDEO coming soon!

Courtside at Kampala: The Ban and Annan show live on stage (Week 1, Blog 4)

By: Ariela Blätter

When Ban spoke at the opening plenary on Monday, he started by explaining that this was the first time that he and the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, had ever shared the same stage. Its' hard to believe that it took this long, but the lapse did not show any division in their support of the Court, as their messages were very much in sync in their praise of the Court.  Ban thanked his predecessor for setting up the court that few had believed in 1998 would spring into life, much less be fully operational today.  In terms of the ICC, he stated that the world order of impunity is over, and that we were clearly, slowly but surely, experiencing freedom from impunity. The reference to ‘slowly’ was likely in response to the criticism that during its 8 years in operation the ICC has not yet produced a completed trial.  Both men also proactively responded to public concerns by certain African countries that the ICC has focused almost exclusively on the continent for investigations. Finally, Ban warmly welcomed the US delegation and signaled appreciation of the engagement of President Obama and his administration- who returned after an 8 year absence to the proceedings this past November in The Hague. In a positive turn of events, Ban was able to use his remarks to announce that there are now 111 members of the Rome Statute, with the very recent accession of Bangladesh.