Electing the Next ICC Prosecutor: Who are the Committee Members?

Last month, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) Bureau appointed the individuals who are now serving as members of the Committee on the Election of the Prosecutor. The five-person committee is charged with the important task of identifying the best candidates for the position of International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor. The Bureau also appointed five independent experts to serve on a panel, which is tasked with assisting the committee in carrying out its mandate.  

As International Justice Monitor previously noted, the committee is responsible for three main tasks: reviewing applications and interviewing candidates; creating a shortlist of applicants; and presenting their work to all state parties to make the final decision. The committee is composed of one representative from each of the five regional groups: Western European and Other States; Latin American and Caribbean States; African States; Eastern European States; and Asia-Pacific States.

The five-member expert panel is also drawn from the same regional groups. According to the terms of reference [pdf] adopted by the Bureau, the expert panel is charged with recommending a draft vacancy announcement setting out the requirements of the prosecutor position (to be approved by the committee and Bureau). These requirements shall take into consideration Article 42 of the Rome Statute, which outlines the functions and qualifications of the prosecutor. The expert panel will also provide support to the committee by recommending the longlist of qualified candidates and by preparing and participating in interviews. How much the committee will rely on the guidance or recommendations from the expert panel remains to be seen.

Independence is key to the work of both the committee and the panel of experts. The terms of reference states, “members of the Committee shall serve in an individual capacity and shall not seek, or act on, instructions from any external source.” In addition, it makes clear that where a member of the committee or expert panel is the same nationality as a candidate or there is a conflict of interest, the member must recuse himself or herself from participating in the evaluation process for that candidate.

Before looking at the composition of the committee and the panel, it is important to note two general concerns. First, the terms of reference required the Bureau to appoint members of the committee and expert panel with “due regard for gender…balance.” As it is stands, four out of five members of the committee are male and three out of five members of the expert panel are male. Overall, the ratio is 70 percent male to 30 percent female, which is extremely disappointing. Gender parity in the body entrusted with assessment of candidates for the position of prosecutor is of fundamental importance, to ensure access by and adequate assessment of both female and male applicants, including in relation to expertise on sexual and gender-based crimes, but not only.

Second, although paragraph 7 of the terms of reference indicated that both states and civil society could nominate members of the panel, no visible efforts were made to adequately inform civil society of this opportunity. All of the experts selected were nominated by state parties. From a civil society perspective, the selection processes for experts lacked transparency. Meaningful input from civil society would have allowed for casting a wider net.

The committee and the panel of experts started their work earlier this month, however, no Chair for the committee has been designated yet. The vacancy announcement for the prosecutor will be published by August 1. 

Below, we take a closer look at the members of the committee and of the expert panel.

Committee on the Election of the Prosecutor

Ambassador Marcin Piotr Czepelak is a Polish jurist who has been serving as Ambassador of Poland to the Netherlands since September 2017. Poland is part of the Eastern European group of states. Ambassador Czepelak holds a PhD in law and has authored a number of academic studies and articles about international civil procedure and the protection of foreign investments and the law of treaties. In 2012, he published International Law of Obligations of the European Union: Commentary on the Rome Regulations on the practice of court proceedings. His past professional experience is in public administration and academia, and he is said to have legislative expertise gained both in Poland and at the EU institutions. Although experienced in public international law, Ambassador Czepelak does not appear to have direct experience with international criminal justice or prosecutions.

Mr. Lamin Faati is the Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of The Gambia to the United Nations (UN). The Gambia is part of the African group of states parties to the ICC. There is very little public information about Mr. Faati’s background, however, it appears that he has been serving as a diplomat for several years, and he does not appear to have direct experience with international criminal justice or prosecutions.

Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis is a diplomat from Cyprus. For purposes of the ASP, Cyprus is considered part of the Asia-Pacific states. He is currently the Greek Cypriot negotiator for the Cyprus problem – the ongoing dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots since the 1974 Turkish military invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus. Last March, he was also appointed as the country’s permanent representative to the UN. Ambassador Mavroyiannis previously served as the Deputy Minister for European Affairs from October 2011 to January 2013, and he was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus from March to August 2013. His academic background is in international law, political science, and sociology, but he does not appear to have direct experience with international criminal justice or prosecutions.

Ambassador Sabine Nölke is Canada’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Canada is part of the Western European and Other regional group of states. Ambassador Nölke is a diplomat and a lawyer who began her career with the External Affairs and International Trade Canada in the Economic and Trade Law Division. From 1993, she served as counsel in the Legal Operations Division, as deputy director of the United Nations, Criminal and Treaty Law Division, and as director of the UN’s Human Rights and Economic Law Division. She served abroad, at the High Commission of Canada in London and with the Canadian delegation to the OSCE in Vienna. From 1999 to 2004, Ambassador Nölke was co-counsel in Legality of Use of Force (Serbia and Montenegro v. Canada) before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). While experienced in public international law, she does not appear to have direct experience with international criminal justice or prosecutions.

Ambassador Mario Oyarzábal is a lawyer, specialized in public and private international law, an academic, and an Argentinian ambassador. He is the current Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina. Argentina falls within the groups of states in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Ambassador Oyarzábal was formerly the Deputy Consul and head of the consular office at the Promotion Center and Consulate General of Argentina in New York, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN, as well as a professor of private and public international law at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata. He has litigated on behalf of Argentina before the ICJ and before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, but does not appear to have direct experience with international criminal justice or prosecutions.

Panel of Experts

Mr. Francisco Cox Vial a Chilean lawyer who has worked on complex litigation cases domestically in Chile and internationally. With over 20 years of criminal defense experience, he is the only Chilean lawyer to have litigated before the ICC. He is currently representing victims participating in Dominic Ongwen trial at the court. Among other high-level cases, in 2015, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States appointed him as one of the five experts in charge of investigating the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. He has also worked in support of the extradition of former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet to Spain. Chile is within the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Ms. Aurélia Devos graduated from Sciences-Po Lille in 1999 and is the Deputy Prosecutor and Chief of Section at the Paris Court of First Instance. She is the Head of the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Unit. France is part of the Western European and Other regional group of states. Previously, Ms. Devos had been an adviser in international legal and judicial affairs in the office of Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. She also served as a judicial auditor, Deputy Public Prosecutor at the Tribunal de grande instance de Béthune, and was the deputy at the central administration of the Ministry of Justice, assigned to the Justice Mission of the Central Section for Operational Cooperation of the Police. From 2007 to 2009, she worked as the editor at the Office of International Mutual Assistance in the Directorate of Criminal Affairs and Pardons of the Ministry of Justice and Freedoms.

Professor Charles Jalloh is a Sierra Leonean lawyer, who is a law professor at Florida International University and a member of the UN International Law Commission. Sierra Leone is part of the African group of states parties to the ICC. Professor Jalloh has extensive experience in international criminal law, including representing the African Union before the Appeals Chamber of the ICC in two separate proceedings involving African heads of state. Asides from the ICC, he served as an associate legal officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and as a legal advisor in the Special Court of Sierra Leone. He has also worked in the Department of Justice in Canada and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Mr. Motoo Noguchi is the current Ambassador for International Judicial Cooperation for Japan. He has experience as a prosecutor and international criminal tribunal judge. He was a former Chair of Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) of the ICC, which works to ensure that victims’ rights to reparations and assistance are realized in the international criminal justice system. He served as a judge in the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia from 2006 to 2012. Mr. Noguchi has also worked in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a legal advisor.  Japan is part of the Asia-Pacific states.

Ms. Anna Richterova is a public prosecutor in International Affairs Department of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is a country that is part of the Eastern European States. She has served in the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit as the Deputy to the National Member for the Czech Republic from 2008. Earlier in her career, she was a prosecutor at the district and regional level at the Prosecutor’s Office in Prague. She gained international criminal law experience while working as a trial attorney and senior trial attorney at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 1999 to 2008. Ms. Richterova was also a contributing author to the book The Rome Statute of the ICC at Its Twentieth Anniversary.

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