We have just concluded the first week of the three week ICC Prepcom here at UN
Headquarters in New York and we need your assistance urgently. Below is a
summary of the status of discussion at the end of the first week.  We have
included action letters for you to send to the relevant officials in your
governments.  We have also included email addresses of different country
missions to the United Nations at the end of this message.

This summary follows our update sent on the first day of the ICC Prepcom wherein
we summarized the major issues we face at this meeting. This Prepcom will
finalize negotiations on two documents(1) an Element Annex, further  defining
the crimes within the Court's jurisdiction, and (2) a set of Rules of Procedure
and Evidence. There are still several contentious gender provisions at stake in
these negotiations. In addition, there is a drama playing out here which
includes aggressive bullying tactics by the U.S. against the international
community's commitment to ensure an independent and fair ICC. Also, there are
attempts to raise the threshold of the court's jurisdiction over crimes against
humanity, making all of the crimes against humanity more difficult to prosecute
but especially those of sexual and gender violence.

There are about 30 of us here as a part of the Women's Caucus monitoring this
process including participants from Australia, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria,
Nicaragua, Japan, India, Philippines, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Chile,
Guatemala, U.S., UK, Liberia, Rwanda, South Africa,  Jordan, Canada and Ecuador.
In addition to the substantive issues we face at this Prepcom, there have been
several process issues that have arisen. There is a presence of right-wing
anti-choice groups here misrepresenting the positions of the Women's Caucus and
even gaining access to informal discussions where NGOs are not allowed. We have
learnt that when asked to leave, other members of their group quickly replace
them. We are also concerned about the amount of negotiating time that is spent
in informals and the speed with which the delegates must progress to meet their
June 30 deadline. Some chairs of the working groups are setting strict rules
about which issues can be raised and which cannot. This directly affects several
gender issues.

We are also concerned with a disturbing trend we have witnessed in the oversight
of the negotiations. The bureau seems more concerned with ensuring near
universal agreement to and acceptance of the final documents at all costs rather
than protecting and maintaining the integrity of the Rome Statute. This is
resulting in concessions on key issues which undermine the rome Statute to
countries who will likely not ratify, including the U.S. and some Arab

The following is a summary of some of the priority issues as they stand as of
Friday, June 16

1. U.S. PROPOSAL  The U.S. will table its controversial proposal on Monday
afternoon (June 19). This proposal seeks to give the Security Council more
control over the cases that can come before the Court and allow for the
possibility of exceptions for peacekeeping forces, or those acting under the
"overall direction" of the State in question. Obviously, this would undermine
the independence and impartiality this Court, or any court, required to do
justice evenly and fairly.

The U.S. raised similar issues in the Rome Treaty conference where the statute
of the ICC was adopted in July 1998. The U.S. was soundly defeated on these
issues though not without several substantive concessions concerning the court's
jurisdiction. We are gravely concerned about this proposal and urge you to write
your foreign ministries and other relevant officials about this. The U.S. has
continued to intensively pressure governments of countries it deems dependent on
U.S. military and/or economic aid for support for this proposal. Most of the EU
countries are arrayed strongly against the proposal though we have had word that
the UK has been a weak link on this issues. (We have had at least one report
that with a slight modification, the UK could recommend support to the US

In addition to its efforts within the context of the ICC process, the U.S. began
last year to insist on a clause in bilateral extradition agreements that the
parties to the agreement would not extradite U.S. officials to the Court, once
established. Sri Lanka and S. Korea, among others, are parties to such
agreements. Also, in the past week, Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the U.S.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a hearing for the sole purpose of
denouncing the Court in the most vitriolic of terms. At this hearing, a bill was
introduced which calls for the protection of U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction
of  tribunals such as the ICC and would nullify the effect of the ICC's
jurisdiction. It is believed this heariing was to bolster the resolve of the
U.S. delegation to the ICC Prepcom not to give any ground at this meeting.

We urge U.S. based activists and organizations to contact officials in the
State, Defense, and Justice departments and demand that they cease this
destructive approach to this very necessary mechanism of accountability. We urge
our international affiliates to contact your foreign ministries and urge them to
reject this proposal and others like it.

2. CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITYTwo Prepcoms ago, 11 Arab countries submitted a
proposal which sought to exclude crimes of sexual and gender violence from the
Court's jurisdiction when committed within the context of family, religion or
culture. The proposal itself was discriminatory and contrary to international
law to begin with and should not have been considered. However, several
delegations used the opportunity of this proposal to enter into negotiations
with these countries which yielded text raising the threshold for all of the
crimes against humanity. The language as currently formulated requires that
states or non-state organizations have a policy of "active promotion or
encouragement" of the criminal conduct.

The compromise language would limit the statutory jurisdiction of the Court and
would have the effect of discriminating on the basis of gender and age. The
Women's Caucus sees this as a priority issue, especially since it is often the
case that crimes committed on a widespread or systematic basis with the
acquiescence or toleration of states or non-state entities are committed
predominately against women and children, thus needing no active promotion or
encouragement by the state. Since this language arose from compromise on a
proposal that was baseless, discriminatory and contrary to international law to
begin with, the Women's Caucus sees eliminating the compromise language as the
only satisfactory option.

Last week, the issue of the chapeau language was addressed. There appears to be
three positions that emerged(1) countries who opposed the language but would
be willing to work on alternative language; (2) countries who saw the language
as somewhat problematic but could live with the current language and therefore
cautioned against reopening debate because of the compromise involved; and (3)
countries who supported the compromise language and threatened that the original
proposal, excluding crimes against women, would come back into play if the
debate was reopened on the chapeau language.

>From the intervention on the floor, we placed the following countries in the
various positions

Group 1France, Samoa, Portugal, Colombia, Ecuador, Liechtenstein, Belgium,
Cuba, Bosnia, Israel, Spain, Australia, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand,
Hungary, Group 2U.S., Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany,
Canada, Sweden, Israel  Group 3China, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico,
Peru, Turkey, Libya, Iran, Oman, Sudan, Russia, Indonesia

As this is an issue, which could undermine the Court's ability to address
egregious crimes against women occurring on a widespread or systematic basis as
crimes against humanity, in addition to undermining generally the Court's
capacity, we urge you to contact your foreign ministries and demand strong
positions on this. We insist that if there are to be negotiations based on the

We are concerned that many delegations are catering to countries on this issue
for the sake of keeping them on board, when in fact they will likely not ratify
any time soon. Thus, crucial aspects of the Rome Statute and the eventual ICC
are bring compromised away. Like the U.S. proposal, these countries are seeking
ways of ensuring that as non-state parties they will less the likelihood of
being brought before the court.

3. ENSLAVEMENT/SEXUAL SLAVERYThere have been attempts by the UAE and the Holy
See (a/k/a the Vatican) to keep "forced labor" and keeping others in a "servile
status" from the definitions of the crimes of enslavement and sexual slavery. As
of Friday, there was widespread support for retaining these elements in the
crime of enslavement but not necessarily sexual slavery. Negotiations will
continue on these definitions this week. We will insist that these elements also
be applied to the crime of sexual slavery.

4. EVIDENCE IN CASES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCEThe draft text containing negotiated
rules of evidence concerning consent and sexual conduct evidence in cases of
sexual violence was discussed in an open session on Friday. In the last prepcom,
the smaller working group had reached a difficult compromise on the language.
Currently, the rule has 3 parts. First, the rules lays out a series of
principles which establish that consent may not be inferred from different
circumstances, such as the victim's silence or acquiescence. Second, the rule
states that sexual conduct evidence shall not be admitted but makes a
controversial reference to article 69.4 of the statute, which is a restatement
of a basic evidentiary principle. This reference was insisted upon by Germany,
Austria and other delegations who were concerned about reiterating a recognition
of the rights of the accused. The third component of the rule sets up a
screening procedure to be held in chambers whenever one of the sides wishes to
admit consent or sexual conduct evidence. The hearing must be held
confidentially and the judge must find that the evidence is highly relevant and
admissible and is not being admitted for any of the prohibited purposes.

At the open session, Turkey and Russia made interventions to the effect that the
reference to 69.4 in the second part of the rule should be deleted as such
evidence is always discriminatory and prejudicial to victims and witnesses and
should never be allowed. They further observed that article 69, since it's part
of the statute, applies equally everywhere and that its import is distorted if
restated in this context and no where else. Their interventions were quickly
followed by a number of delegations to the effect that the language was the
result of a very difficult compromise and that if debate were reopened on that
issue, the entire rule would come into question. The group included countries
which originally desired a more progressive rule and those who had desired a
more restrictive one favoring greater deference to the rights of the accused.
The first group included France, Australia, Bosnia. The second group included
Japan, U.S., Austria, Germany and the Holy See.  As no further debate ensued
after the reminder by these countries of the compromise, the text was adopted by
the chair of the working group without further debate. The rule will now go as
it stands into the report of the working group.

Women's Caucus for Gender Justice - P.O.Box 3541 - Grand Central Post Office -
New York, NY 10163 USA - Tel+1(212)697-7741 - Fax+1(212)949-7996 - URL


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