International Criminal Court Marks Opening of Judicial Year 2022

ICC

On 20 January 2022, the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) held a solemn hearing for the opening of its judicial year, featuring speeches of keynote speaker Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, of ICC principals, and the President of the ICC Bar Association. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the majority of ICC judges as well as the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, took part in the event remotely. Representatives from national jurisdictions, regional or international courts, the diplomatic corps, civil society and international organisations joined the online streaming of the event. This year also marks the ICC’s 20th anniversary, as its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on 1 July 2002.

The President of the Court, Judge Piotr Hofmański, recalled the primary purpose of the event: “This symbolic hearing underlines that the ICC is a Court, an independent judicial body. It is through the application of the law that we contribute to the Court’s noble mission”, he said. “This hearing is also an occasion to stop for a moment, to take a brief look back, but even more importantly, to focus our minds on the work that awaits us in the new year”, the President added, noting the exceptionally high level of trial activity expected in 2022. Referring to the Court’s 20th anniversary year, he stated: “What is clear after the ICC’s first two decades is that the Court has become a permanent feature of the international legal and judicial landscape.”

Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and former ICC judge, delivered this year’s keynote address. “The first courts and tribunals were tasked to blaze the trail of international justice and they deserve our honour and appreciation. However, the field is not static; it continues to evolve by analysing the criticism levelled at previous such institutions, drawing on best practices and developing innovative approaches to ensure that justice is done in the most efficient and effective manner, while upholding the core principles of independence, impartiality and fairness,” she said.

At the opening of the Judicial Year 2022, Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC congratulated the Court’s Presidency for convening the ceremony, highlighting the importance of the tradition in many national and international judicial systems, and seeing it as an opportune occasion to reflect on the work and future direction of the Court and the international community’s joint responsibility to advance the cause of international criminal justice. “On the occasion of this ceremony and as we celebrate our common purpose, I call for ever increased burden sharing and cooperation, as is foreseen by the Rome Statute system, to bring justice more globally to all survivors, those heroes who have experienced worst of horrors and whose dignity not only silences and humbles us, but also provides us with the necessary guidance on what needs to be done,” stated Prosecutor Khan.

Looking forward to the year ahead, ICC Registrar Peter Lewis said: “We have proved our resolve, resilience and adaptability. We have the strong support of our States Parties to deal with the increase in our workload and to provide co-operation. We are facing our 20th anniversary year with a renewed sense of confidence in the importance of our mission and our ability to meet whatever challenges are set before us.”

In addition, the President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) Jennifer Naouri insisted on the fact that “the priority of the ICCBA was to promote a legal aid policy which guarantees that members of Defence and Victim teams have access to decent social benefits such as a maternity leave and which promotes the equality of arms to ensure the respect of fair trial requirements”, concluding that “on these crucial questions, the ICCBA will continue to work relentlessly with the Court and be a trustworthy partner to improve the situation for all those that strive for justice, day in and day out, whether it be the Defence, the Victims, the Prosecutor or the Registry.

The solemn hearing was followed by the Fourth Annual Judicial Seminar of the ICC, held in a virtual format in light of the global pandemic. In addition to judges of the ICC, the seminar was attended by ca. 60 judges from international, regional and national courts, including several chief justices of ICC States Parties. This year’s edition of the Judicial Seminar was devoted to the topic “Disciplinary Mechanisms Applicable to Judges”, allowing for a rich exchange of views and experiences on a theme that is of relevance to all jurisdictions and particularly topical for the Court in light of recommendations made by the recent Independent Expert Review for amending the current disciplinary system in place. A summary report of the Judicial Seminar, held under Chatham House rules, will be issued subsequently.

The solemn hearing was followed by the Fourth Annual Judicial Seminar of the ICC, held in a virtual format in light of the global pandemic. In addition to judges of the ICC, the seminar was attended by ca. 60 judges from international, regional and national courts, including several chief justices of ICC States Parties. This year’s edition of the Judicial Seminar was devoted to the topic “Disciplinary Mechanisms Applicable to Judges”, allowing for a rich exchange of views and experiences on a theme that is of relevance to all jurisdictions and particularly topical for the Court in light of recommendations made by the recent Independent Expert Review for amending the current disciplinary system in place. A summary report of the Judicial Seminar, held under Chatham House rules, will be issued subsequently.

Audio-Visual materials:

Pictures of the event

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