Editor’s note: This is part of Just Security’s Symposium on the ICC OTP’s Policy on Complementarity and Cooperation.

Today, June 20, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) hosts the next event launching its new Policy on Complementarity and Cooperation, this event at The Hague, with the participation of State Parties, civil society and international organizations, and other partners of the ICC community. This follows a series of simultaneous launch events in Bogotá, Colombia, and Bangui, Central African Republic, in April 2024, and a consultation process that started in October 2023.

The new Policy distils a number of OTP practices of complementarity (the international legal principle under which the ICC is intended to complement, rather than replace, national criminal systems) and cooperation with national systems, and describes a new and comprehensive path forward. In the new Policy, the OTP becomes a hub for accountability efforts, partnering with national authorities and regional accountability mechanisms. I have supported the OTP’s creation of the policy in my role as Special Advisory on Complementarity to the Prosecutor.

The Policy’s cornerstone is the OTP’s strategy of a two-track approach. The Office seeks to engage in partnership with States to promote cooperation and complementary action, while remaining attentive of its mandate to investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes.

This approach is crucial, as it highlights the reinforcing relation between the OTP’s partnership and cooperation with domestic authorities, and its continuing vigilance to ensure that the ICC’s mandate is fulfilled when it is warranted. To that effect, the Policy is structured around four pillars:

  • Creating a community of practice. The OTP will promote spaces for the exchange of information and ideas with national authorities, tracking domestic proceedings relating to core international crimes developments. In particular, the Policy emphasizes the creation of a Complementarity and Cooperation Forum, the establishment of Situation Briefs, the expansion of secondments of personnel from State Parties to the OTP, and the strengthening of support and assistance to national authorities, among other measures that will increase the points of contact between States and the OTP.
  • Leveraging technology as an accelerant for justice. The OTP will reinforce its information systems to enhance evidence management, both for the Office’s own needs, and analyze evidence and share materials derived from requests for assistance from States.
  • Bringing justice to the communities. The OTP will establish field offices, initially in Ukraine, Venezuela, Bangladesh, and Libya. Moreover, through the Policy, the OTP seeks to strengthen collaboration with civil society organizations, national authorities, and specialised accountability mechanisms. Similarly, the OTP will seek to hold at least part of the proceedings before the Court in the situation country or region, seeking to be as close as possible to the affected communities.
  • Harnessing cooperation mechanisms. Finally, building on its collaboration with Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, to establish a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on alleged core international crimes, the OTP will seek to identify opportunities to cooperate with other national authorities, transitional justice mechanisms, and other rule of law and accountability actors, in support of their investigations and prosecutions.

The OTP’s new Policy offers a comprehensive approach to complementarity and cooperation. Through its two-track approach, the Policy positions the OTP as a veritable hub for international criminal justice, and creates a workable framework for catalyzing genuine domestic proceedings, while remaining vigilant if States fail to prosecute Rome Statute crimes.

Over the next few weeks, Just Security will host a series of guest posts that examine the Policy from different perspectives, which will be added here as they are published:

IMAGE: The International Criminal Court (via Getty Images).