Photo Source: © Rick Bajornas/UN Photo
Photo Source: © Rick Bajornas/UN Photo

Joint letter to ICC States Parties, April 2020

29 April 2020

New York, 28 April 2020

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned organizations, call on your State and all States Parties to the Rome Statute to show support for the Rome Statute system and the International Criminal Court (ICC), especially in the face of threats to its independence and mandate. Although threats to the pursuit of international justice, including in the context of the ICC, are not new, protecting the ICC is particularly important today in the face of escalating hostility towards the Court.

The ICC’s crucial role in complementing the primary role of national courts cannot be overstated. We acknowledge that the ICC would benefit from changes to strengthen its performance, but ensuring a fair, effective, and independent Court depends on support from States Parties. We welcome the reaffirmation of ICC States Parties to “uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats against the Court.” We urge States Parties to uphold the Rome Statute system by making strong, concrete expressions of support and to defend it by unequivocally condemning threats. The challenges faced by the Court require nothing less.

As you know, on 20 January 2020, one month after the ICC Prosecutor announced that the situation in Palestine merits investigation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for “sanctions against the international court, its officials, its prosecutors, everyone.” On 17 March 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo threatened to impose punitive measures against two named senior ICC staffers, other ICC staffers, and their families. His remarks came after the ICC authorized an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan. These are among the latest in a series of attacks that undermine the Court itself and intimidate its staff in order to protect political interests at the expense of international justice.

This combination of threats and the U.S. visa ban policy seeks to undermine the Court’s ability to deliver justice to victims whenever States are unwilling or unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute crimes under the Rome Statute. The ICC must be free to carry out its mandate, without fear or favor, on the basis of the legal requirements delineated in the Rome Statute—not on the basis of political considerations.

As a State Party to the Rome Statute, your country has clearly committed to ending impunity for crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction, regardless of the perpetrator’s nationality. Defending the Court’s independence is key to fulfilling that pledge. We urge you to act with your fellow States Parties to champion the Court’s mandate and independence and uphold the Rome Statute’s integrity by:

  1. Expressing your government’s strong and continued commitment to the ICC and its prosecutorial and judicial independence in bilateral, multilateral, and public forums at the domestic, regional, and international levels;
  2. Calling on the U.S. government to repeal its ICC visa ban policy and to refrain from attacking the Court, its staff, or their families in any way;
  3. Calling on the Israeli government to repudiate its call for sanctions against the Court and its staff;
  4. Publicly expressing your government’s determination to cooperate fully with the Court across its work;
  5. Calling on all relevant actors to cooperate with the investigation into the situation in Afghanistan and any possible investigation into the situation in Palestine;
  6. Ratifying, if not previously done, the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court (APIC);
  7. Domesticating, if not previously done, the Rome Statute; and
  8. Signing, if not previously done, all relevant cooperation agreements with the ICC (for example, on the protection of witnesses and victims; the release of persons, including interim release; and the enforcement of sentences).

Thank you for your commitment and support for the Rome Statute system and the ICC.


  • ACAT-Burundi
  • ACAT-Switzerland
  • Action Humaine pour le Développement Intégré au Sénégal (AHDIS)
  • Africa Center for International Law and Accountability
  • Africa Legal Aid (AFLA)
  • African Development and Peace Initiative
  • AL Ensan Center for think individual development
  • Al-Haq
  • Amman Center for Human Rights Studies
  • Anfal Storys Organization
  • Arry Organization for Human Rights
  • Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España
  • Association Française pour la promotion de la Compétence Universelle (AFPCU)
  • Australian Centre for International Justice
  • Avocats Sans Frontières
  • Bema Organization for Economic and Social Rights
  • Center for Civil Liberties
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for Justice and Accountability
  • Civil Association Democracia Global – Movimiento por la Unión Sudamericana y el Parlamento Mundial
  • Civil Rights Defenders (CRD)
  • Coalition Ivoirienne pour la CPI
  • Coalition Malienne pour la CPI/CM-CPI
  • Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos
  • Comision por la Carta Democratica Interamericana
  • COMPPART Foundation for Justice and Peacebuilding – Nigeria
  • Congo Peace Initiative
  • Culture pour la Paix et la Justice (CPJ)
  • Defence of Human Rights – Pakistan
  • Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past
  • Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation
  • EuroMed Rights
  • Fédération internationale pour les Droits Humains (FIDH)
  • Femmes et Droits Humains
  • Fundacion Federalista Dominicana
  • Fundacion Nacional para la Democracia
  • Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition
  • Human Rights Center (HRIDC) – Georgia
  • Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan
  • Human Rights Center ZMINA
  • Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)
  • Human Rights Defenders Solidarity Network Uganda
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Humanitarian Law Center – Belgrade
  • International Commission of Jurists – Norway
  • Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (iPeace)
  • Institute for Environmental Security, Green Transparency and Ecological Defence Integrity
  • International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
  • International Coalition Against Impunity-HOKOK
  • International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
  • International Commission of Jurists – Kenya
  • International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (IPJET)
  • Iranian Center for International Criminal Law (ICICL)
  • Justice International
  • Kenya Human Rights Commission
  • Kurdish Organizations Network Coalition for the International Criminal Court (KON-CICC)
  • Kurdistan without Genocide
  • La Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador (CDHES)
  • La Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka
  • Lawyers for Justice in Libya
  • Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
  • Le Center Marocain de la Paix et la Loi
  • Le Club des amis du droit du Congo
  • Le Groupe LOTUS – RDC
  • Mission for Establishment of Human Rights (MEHR)
  • MOM Organization
  • Mouvement Panafricain de la Jeunesse Féminine pour la paix
  • National Centre for Human Rights and Development (NACFOHRD)
  • Norwegian Helsinki Committee
  • Nuba Women Organization for Development
  • Observatoire Centrafricain des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH)
  • Odhikar
  • Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Organization Against Weapons of Mass Destruction in Kurdistan
  • Organization of the Justice Campaign
  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
  • Parliamentarians for Global Action
  • Regional Centre for Human Rights – Ukraine
  • Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • Réseau Equitas Côte d’Ivoire (REQCI)
  • Rights for Peace
  • Rights International Spain (RIS)
  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Sahayta
  • Society for Threatened Peoples – Switzerland
  • SOS-Torture/Burundi
  • Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
  • Students for Global Democracy – Uganda
  • Sudanese Women Human Rights Defenders Project
  • Sudanese Women Rights Action
  • Swedish Foundation for Human Rights
  • The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession (ACIJLP)
  • Transitional Justice Coordination Group
  • Transitional Justice Working Group of Liberia
  • TRIAL International
  • Tunisian Coalition for the ICC
  • Union for Civil Liberty – Thailand
  • United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
  • United Nations Association – Sweden
  • United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia
  • Voluntary Aid Association – India
  • Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
  • World Citizens Association of Australia
  • World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP)
  • World Renewers Organization
  • World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and other NGOs


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