By Thomas Verfuss
Kwon O-gon, a lawyer and former international judge from South Korea, should be the new president of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), the political oversight body of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Bureau of the ASP, the coordinating organ of the ASP, has made this recommendation to the states parties that meet for the annual assembly in New York this year.
The Bureau consists of the ASP presidency and 18 member states representing the 124 signatories to the Rome Statute that have ratified or acceded to the treaty.
Although the ASP is free in December to elect a candidate of its own choosing, the recommendation of the Bureau is believed to carry substantial weight with states. Until now, since the inception of the court in 2002, the plenary has always followed the presidency recommendation of the Bureau. Journalists For Justice heard of the recommendation late on Thursday from one of the 18 states.
The recommendation follows a row caused recently by the push launched (by a small group of states and stakeholders) of a second mandate for the current ASP president, Sidiki Kaba. Kaba, who has retained his appointment as Senegalese minister of justice in Dakar, has not answered requests from JFJ for comment on the proposal that he serve a second term.
Some diplomats credit Kaba with helping to solve the “withdrawal crisis” at the ICC, when in 2016 three African countries (South Africa, Burundi, The Gambia) announced their intention to pull out from the ICC, causing fears of a momentum that would lead to a “mass withdrawal” of African states.
The Bureau decision was taken by a so-called “silence procedure”. The majority opinion was put as a proposal before all members. No state possibly favouring a second Kaba term objected before the deadline on Thursday, so the “Kwon proposal” was adopted by acquiescence.
Kwon is a highly experienced former judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He sat for years on the famous case of former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic and presided over the trial of the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
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