Last week, three of the five members of the Committee on the Election of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor met with civil society organizations in New York. They acknowledged the importance of both a credible process and a successful outcome, which includes the development of a shortlist of candidates who meet the highest standards of competency and professionalism. Toward that end, they expressed openness to receiving credible information about individuals who may have applied for the position and pledged to consider such information in their evaluation of candidates.
The Committee also acknowledged the letter sent last week, signed by 22 civil society organizations to date, urging them to establish a vetting process that results in the exclusion of candidates for prosecutor who have committed, condoned, or ignored sexual harassment. They noted that while their mandate is limited by the terms of reference approved by the Bureau of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), nothing prevents the Committee or States Parties from receiving and considering information directed to their attention. The Committee further stressed the confidentiality of the process, both for candidates and for anyone who provides information about those whose applications the Committee may be considering.
The Open Society Justice Initiative applauds the Committee’s willingness to receive and consider credible information as well as its commitment to due process in evaluating candidates. The Committee is charting new territory and is doing so, understandably, with care. Nonetheless, Committee members underscored that integrity is a non-negotiable competency for the position of ICC prosecutor.
The Committee itself approved the vacancy announcement for the position, which explains that integrity relates to “high moral character; high commitment to the values and guiding principles of the ICC and impeccable personal and professional integrity.” The vacancy announcement also states that the prosecutor “should be capable to serve as a role model of adherence to professionalism and the highest ethical standards of the legal profession.” The Justice Initiative welcomes the Committee’s commitment to considering all credible information that would provide insight into any candidate’s integrity. Such data is, of course, not limited to sexual harassment, but would certainly include it, as well as any other intelligence shedding light on an individual’s “moral character.”
Candidate Interviews Scheduled
The Vice Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, provided an update on the election process at a separate meeting with states and civil society on Tuesday. He confirmed that 16 candidates have made the longlist for interviews, which will take place April 28-30 in The Hague. The Committee will be leading the interviews. The panel of experts, which is assisting the Committee in carrying out its mandate, will observe the interviews.
After the interviews are completed, the Committee will prepare a final report with a shortlist of three to six candidates. The Committee has stated that it will send its final report to the Bureau and Assembly of States Parties by the end of May. At this time, it is also expected that the shortlist of candidates will become public, and the Committee’s work will be finished. Until that time, any relevant, credible information about potential candidates can be communicated directly to the Committee’s Chair, Ambassador Sabine Nölke.
Once the Committee’s submits its final report, States Parties decide whom to elect. The terms of reference allows for hearings for shortlisted candidates with civil society and States Parties, and this will be another important step in evaluating applicants to ensure that any concerns about not only sexual harassment, but also discrimination, bullying, and other ethical misconduct are brought to the public’s attention.