This post, by Elizabeth Evenson and the team at HRW concludes our joint symposium with EJIL:Talk! on the impact of the ICC on national justice. Their opening post is available here. Thanks for tuning in!
Many thanks to the editors and the contributors for making this online symposium possible. Our primary goal with Pressure Point was to identify whether and how the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC could become more effective in pursuing its policy goal of encouraging national prosecutions through engagement at the preliminary examination stage.
But we also hoped that Pressure Pointcould play a role in bringing broader awareness about this dimension of the prosecutor’s work, and to stimulate others to consider how they might be able to contribute to efforts to spur national prosecutions as part of expanding the reach of justice. In this response, we address some key areas of agreement among the contributors while also addressing some differences in perspective or conclusions.
As we make clear in the report and as Emeric also emphasizes, pursuing national prosecutions is only a secondary goal of preliminary examinations, which primarily are focused on determining whether the ICC should exercise jurisdiction. When it comes to how the prosecutor should approach those determinations, it is clear there are a number of important considerations that go far beyond our report’s focus on positive complementarity. Carsten Stahn’s contribution here impressively covers that vast terrain, and brings in additional voices from the recently published Quality Control in Preliminary Examinationsto set out a number of areas where further consideration is helpful.
We also acknowledge in the report that catalyzing national prosecutions will not be a policy goal that the prosecutor does or should pursue in all situations. The prosecutor was not actively seeking to catalyze national proceedings in the UK, and only to a limited extent in Georgia. We included these case studies in our final report to assess the extent to which conducting preliminary examinations may have passive effects on encouraging national prosecutions even without an active strategy.
When it does come to actively encouraging national prosecutions, Paolina’s piece helpfully distills from past practices by the prosecutor’s office a clear and precise “tool kit” for the prosecutor, highlighting additional examples from other case studies beyond those in our report. She helps to bring additional content to what Camilo describes as the acupuncture needles the prosecutor can use to stimulate national processes, a very apt metaphor for the strategic, informed approach our case studies suggest is essential.
Emeric’s piece queries the extent to which the prosecutor really can or should adopt what he describes as NGO or UN-like advocacy strategies, which we assume includes public statements at strategic moments. He also questions how prescriptive it can be in identifying steps national authorities should take, noting that the prosecutor cannot provide instructions or deadlines.
Our recommendations seek to push the prosecutor in these directions, although we agree that it is not about demanding action as the term “instruction” might suggest, but rather benchmarking, publicly if possible, expected investigative steps. Public benchmarks can also help make the prosecutor’s work more accessible and credible with affected communities. The prosecutor has used these tools, including benchmarks, with particular effect in Guinea. Indeed, our recommendations are really rooted in encouraging the Office of the Prosecutor to be as effective as possible in making use of the tools at its disposal. Continue reading