Prosecutor Election: ICC Staff Union Council Calls for Vetting

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Election process continues as do calls for vetting. The Justice Initiative has repeatedly called for full and thorough vetting including at the last COJUR-ICC meeting, but these calls have fallen on deaf ears. To date, no measures have been put in place to fully vet prosecutorial candidates.

Having failed to reach a consensus, states parties are due to vote for a new prosecutor this week. Whatever the outcome, the failure to vet candidates is unacceptable. The ICC Staff Union Council sent a letter to all States Parties on February 8, 2020 emphasizing the importance of high moral character, integrity and vetting.  This letter serves as a strong reminder of why vetting is important. As they point out, the credibility of the election is at stake as is the Court’s reputation. Staff will unfortunately bear the brunt of poor leadership and their voice and their calls for vetting must not be ignored. 

International Justice Monitor has received permission from the ICC Staff Union Council to republish their statement publicly. The full statement is below:

Dear Distinguished Representatives of the States Parties to the International Criminal Court

On the eve of the election of the new Prosecutor, the Staff Union Council, on behalf of numerous staff members raising concerns regarding the current candidates, once again, calls on States Parties to place strong emphasis on the issue of high moral character and integrity, and to ensure that election processes take this paramount principle into account.

The Staff Union, aware that the election process will end soon, reiterates the importance of electing the candidate who demonstrates the –highest moral character, impartiality and integrity- in addition to meeting the requirements of competence and experience. This means that any allegations of harassment, bullying, discrimination or abuse of power should be addressed in the strongest of manners during the election process.

In addition, in the absence of a proper mechanism for receiving and investigating allegations of harassment, it is all the more the States Parties’ responsibility to provide for processes that ensure that candidates with a past history of abuse or those who have not proven to deal effectively with such abuse, are not elected to the ICC. The lack of an impartial process properly equipped to protect the rights of the complainants and candidates alike stimulates the spread of rumors and damages the credibility of the election process as a whole.

As stated in the Independent Expert Review report, bullying and harassment are commonplace at the ICC. The election of the new Prosecutor will be watched by the world and on this matter States Parties should lead by example by electing leaders whose character and actions are beyond reproach. Vetting is essential to ensure that all candidates meet the Rome Statute’s high moral character requirement, and the Staff Union urges States Parties to ensure this process is duly respected.

In solidarity,

Your Staff Union Council