Iranian Association for United Nations Studies in collaboration with the Secretariat of National Committee on Humanitarian Law and office of International Committee of the Red Cross in Tehran, held a special session with the attendance of Dr. Bruno Zehnder – legal officer in International Criminal Court - on current challenges of International Criminal Court on 28th of November, 2014.
Dr. Bruno Zehnder thanked Dr. Nasrin Mosaffa, President of the Iranian Association for United Nations Studies, and the other partner institutions. His speech focused on International Criminal Court and the original idea of instituting such a international tribunal for prosecuting international crimes. Afterwards, he examined the role of ICC in fighting against immunity of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes in the international society -which bringing criminals to justice is its common value. He continued:
“International Criminal court since the beginning of its establishment until today has dealt with different cases. The principal aim of ICC as it is expressed explicitly in its status, is due and fairness prosecution of crimes. The office of Prosecutor in an ambiance of collaboration with other states and without intervention of State powers tends to examine and investigate the crimes and prosecute the accused. The question of jurisdiction is one of the most important aspects in international tribunals. ICC has to determine its jurisdiction on each case due to Article 7 and 8 of its Statute; it includes jurisdiction to prosecute the individuals for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The admissibility of a case may be challenged by states. In each case the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of a case should be examined”.
In addition, Dr. Zehnder mentioned other topics including composition of the Court, appointment and election of judges as well as how they start the first hearing of the case. He made some remarks also on the question of fair representation of female and male judges conforming the Statue. At the moment, there are 10 female judges in the composition of the Court.
Dr. Mosaffa shed light on the importance of gender equality in the composition of the Court and preserving such balance in the board of judges.
Dr. Zehnder, afterwards made remarks on the role of the Prosecutor in prosecution of crimes and the challenges which the Office of Prosecutor is facing in each dossier. In his opinion, one of the difficulties for the Prosecutor in most of the cases is the question of State's collaboration in investigation and collecting evidences. As an example, he mentioned the case of the Republic of Kenya, in which the Prosecutor in collecting evidences have had some difficulties. Dr. Zehnder stated that the Court as an institution who is dependent on the collaboration of States, will have the capability of prosecution and fair trial for the perpetrators of international crimes, only when member States in all the stages of prosecution and trial would have the political and legal volition for cooperation with the Court, as ending immunity is the common responsibility of States.
He briefly mentioned the most important cases which are currently under investigation of the Court, and noted some other important subjects, including initiation of an investigation and referral of cases by Security Council or member States. The majority of cases before the Court are related to African countries and this indicates the tension, disagreement and political, economic and internal crisis of these States. In Dr. Zehnder's opinion, the objections that the African States raise toward the International Criminal Court have no robust basis.
Dr. Mosaffa at the end of ceremony, expressed her gratitude toward Dr. Bruno Zehnder for his speech. The remarkable attendance, tendency of students and scholars in the session and the question-answer session indicates the importance of the International Criminal Court and questions related to this institution-as the most important international criminal institution for ending the immunity of perpetrators - and the tendency of audience to this topic.
Before closing the session, the audience (students, scholars and professors) posed their questions and gave their remarks on the subjects. The session came to an end after a question-answers séance.