[JURIST] International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] President Judge Phillippe Kirsch [official profile] told the UN General Assembly Thursday that the ICC is at a "critical stage" [transcript, PDF] ten years after its creation. Presenting his annual report [text, PDF; ICC press release; UN press release], Kirsch said that while serious war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the court continue to be committed worldwide, it is "still far too early to pass judgment" on the court's success. He added:
Most fundamentally, the success of the Court will depend on it fulfilling properly its own mandate. The Court must and will continue to do its part to ensure its judicial independence and impartiality. It will investigate and prosecute crimes within its jurisdiction in accordance with the principle of complementarity. It will guarantee the rights of the accused and of suspects. It will interpret the Rome Statute and develop a body of jurisprudence. It will protect victims and witnesses. It will give further effect to the rights of victims to participate. It will address questions of reparations to victims. And in all its proceedings, it will continue to strive for the highest standards of efficiency and transparency.
However, it is important to bear in mind at all times that the ICC – and the ICC system with its checks and balances and its limitations on the power of the Court – was created by States as a judicial mechanism to assist in the achievement of certain objectives mentioned in the preamble of the Rome Statute. The system can only work effectively if all actors in the system play their part.
Last week, the ICC Appeals Chamber decided not to release [JURIST report] former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [BBC profiler; JURIST news archive] but dismissed a request [judgment, PDF] that it lift an indefinite stay on his trial. Lubanga, once the leader of the Union of Patriotic Congolese [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], is charged with using child soldiers in his militia and became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC after he was taken into custody [JURIST reports] in 2006. Earlier this month, ICC judges requested [court order, PDF; JURIST report] more information on an arrest warrant application for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for atrocities allegedly committed in the country's Darfur region [JURIST news archive]. The ICC instructed Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] to submit “additional supporting materials in relation to some confidential aspects” of his application no later than November 17, 2008.