How to deepen shallow ICC judges pool

Of the six vacancies, two should be filled by candidates from Latin America and the Caribbean to ensure the court retains a broad geographical representation. But that region has only put forward three candidates, one less than the minimum required to hold a poll. So wrote Financial Times reporter Caroline Birnham Wednesday in a story whose title says it all: "The Hague struggles to find judges." The struggle, specifically, is to find qualified women and men to compete in the International Criminal Court judicial election to be held in December. As IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack discussed in posts available here, fully a third of the bench will turn over this year. (credit for photo of ICC building) The ICC extended the judicial nominations deadline by 2 weeks, Birnham wrote in Financial Times; she added, "lack of candidates … could force another extension." As our colleague William A. Schabas put it on his blog: 'It's an astonishing situation.' Too-few numbers aren't the only concern, either. Outside of the Philippines' Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (1 of only 3 persons nominated on account of human rights expertise, and 1 of only 2 women nominated), few of the 19 names listed are familiar to this 'Grrl. Bruno Cathala of France is an exception, though his international experience has been in the role of registrar, and not as an international judge. Sierra Leone's Rosolu John Bankole Thompson has served as presiding judge of the Special Court for Sierra Leone — in that position, he dissented from the Court's conviction of Sierra Leonean ex-government officials. One looks in vain for a candidate with the background of some who've served on the International Court of Justice. There's no Higgins or Simma or Greenwood. Nor any Patricia Wald, Richard Goldstone, or Cecilia Medina Quiroga, to name the 3 former judges tasked with vetting the current ICC candidates. The names of many qualified potential candidates jump to mind. It's to be hoped that ICC states parties, which need not nominate their own nationals, have considered them all. If, as Article 36 of the ICC Statute now requires, nominees must come from states parties, it's up to states parties to step up and recruit qualified candidates. If states parties don't step up, it may be time to consider amending the statute to permit civil society to play a more direct role in this essential process.

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One Response to How to deepen shallow ICC judges pool

  1. Ramon Sy says:

    It takes huge resources from national governments to field the candidature of a potential judge to the ICC. Same story as the International Court of Justice whose Security Council virtually chooses who will sit as judges in cases in which the powerful countries are involved. This, therefore, seems like insurmountable problems to poor countries. We are happy that the Philippines and Dominican Republic have decided to field the only 2 female candidates. Of the two, only Defensor Santiago of the Philippines has credentials in international humanitarian law and human rights. This is indeed startling for a campaign. In terms of regional grouping, Asia fielded 2 candidates only – the Philippine female candidate and another one from Cyprus who specializes in family relations. I am floored. So were it not for the Philippine candidate, Asia is the cradle of many old civilizations and legal systems would not have candidates who excel in international humanitarian law and human rights law ? Its like saying that only wars launched in the West matter in war crimes, but not those in the East !

    One of the possible solutions to this politicized voting, is for women organizations around the world to recruit more women in government, especially women diplomats, and engage in information and education campaigns of what the Intl. Criminal Court is all about. Women should also engage men in gender sensitization programs.

    Finally, everyone should exert all effort to make sure that not only the candidates of developed countries get to sit as judges in the ICC. As far as poor countries are involved, the road to the ICC is paved with too many obstances, financial and political.

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