On April 5, 2023, Osvaldo Zavala Giler was sworn in as the new Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), at ICC’s headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands, in the presence of ICC President Piotr Hofmański, representatives from the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), diplomats and representatives of civil society, the media and academia.
Zavala of Ecuador is the first Latin American and member of the LGBTQ community to be elected as the ICC Registrar. He succeeds Peter Lewis, who has held the position since 2018.
Zavala has a wealth of experience at the ICC, having worked in various capacities, including Chief of Budget Section, senior special assistant to the Registrar, and Head of Office of the Court’s liaison office to the United Nations in New York. Before working for the ICC as a staff member, he monitored its activities for the CICC, the coalition of NGOs of which Journalists For Justice (JFJ) is also a member.
In his new role, he will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Court, including managing the Court’s budget, human resources, and other administrative functions. He will exercise these functions under the authority of the ICC President.
Zavala will also play a key role in implementing the Court’s strategic plan, which outlines the Court’s priorities and objectives over the coming years. The Registrar also liaises with the host state and other countries and organisations.
Addressing the Court during the swearing-in ceremony, Zavala expressed his commitment to upholding the ICC’s mandate and ensuring that the Court can carry out its important work efficiently and effectively.
“As Registrar, my calling will be to continue building the legitimacy of the ICC by ensuring its operational sustainability and strengthening the respect and trust for its mandate. I stand ready and able to take this important step in my long-standing service to the Court by transforming into opportunities the vast institutional experience we have to meet the challenges ahead,” said Zavala in his speech.
“To achieve this,” he said, “I am committed to devoting to the Court and to those it was established to serve my vision, my experience, my energy, and my skills to support the operational effectiveness of its judicial functions and thus contribute to preserving its legacy and safeguarding its future.”
He also expressed his commitment to working with all parties and participants in a fair, neutral, and expeditious way to streamline the various duties and services that fall under the role of the Registry.
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“Under the authority of the president, I am committed to honouring the confidence the judges have placed in me by further strengthening and streamlining the various duties and services to the judicial proceedings and the administration of the court by working with all parties and participants in a fair, neutral, and expeditious way,” Zavala said.
Zavala, who is also a founding member of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Network at the Court, emphasised the importance of diversity in the workplace, stating that it is a value engraved in the institutional DNA of the ICC.
He believes in building a model of modern public administration that embodies the world’s evolving values and ideals and encourages a safe working environment that promotes professionalism and respect.
“Diversity, equality, and inclusion is not only an aspirational duty based on principle but rather a fundamental prerequisite of the success of the Court,” he said.
ICC judges elected Zavala as the new Registrar for a period of five years on February 10, 2023, by an absolute majority by secret ballot. He will assume office on April 17, 2023.
His swearing-in as the new ICC Registrar underscores the Court’s commitment to promoting diversity, inclusivity, and excellence in the workplace. As the ICC continues to carry out its crucial work in promoting justice and accountability for the most serious crimes under international law, Zavala’s leadership will be instrumental in ensuring that the ICC remains a trusted and effective institution in the years to come.