Following our (really long) online debate some months back (see here and here), Michael Kearney has published another opinion on the declaration of the PA under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute. It very clearly highlights the different approaches to Palestinian Statehood and argues (along with Alain Pellet, who issued his own opinion on this) that a functional approach should be adopted to allow the declaration of the PA under 12(3). The paper might be called “asking the right question”, but I fear once again that it’s not giving the right answers…
I won’t redo all the debate again, but I have two nagging questions that remain unanswered for me in this reasoning.
1) One argument is that the PA has criminal jurisdiction over the crimes, so it can transfer the jurisdiction. But how is material jurisdiction over the crimes relevant for 12(3)? This provision follows 12(2) which provides that:
In the case of article 13, paragraph (a) or (c), the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if one or more of the following States are Parties to this Statute or have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with paragraph 3:
(a) The State on the territory of which the conduct in question occurred or, if the crime was committed on board a vessel or aircraft, the State of registration of that vessel or aircraft;
(b) The State of which the person accused of the crime is a national.
There is no mention of material jurisdiction here. It’s territory and nationality. Criminal jurisdiction over the crime is actually not a criteria under article 12 which is not a question of transfer of jurisdiction, but acceptance of jurisdiction in relation to territory and nationality. If not this would have two strange consequences 1) let’s imagine a State where a certain war crime was committed but where the prosecution of such a crime would not be possible under its national criminal code. It could still become a Party or make a 12(3) declaration. Making criminal jurisdiction an extra criteria under 12 would mean that the ICC could only prosecute crimes in States which have themselves provided for the prosecution of the crime. Hardly the will of the drafters… 2) at the other extreme, it would mean that any State having implemented universal jurisdiction could make a 12(3) declaration. Criminal jurisdiction is only relevant when it comes to complementarity and whoever claims that it is relevant for article 12 needs to show me through what magic the two criteria of 12(2) (territory and nationality) suddenly became three…
2) A simple question: would you agree that the phrasing of the provision which talks about a “State which is not a Party to this Statute”, implies that an entity that can make a declaration under 12(3) is also an entity that can actually sign the Rome Statute? I personally don’t see any other interpretation of 12(3), and in that case, it begs the further question: if you’re supporting the PA’s declaration, why not support its signature of the Statute? That would certainly send a strong message to the international community and force the ASP to come up with a clear answer as to what is a “State” for the meaning of the Rome Statute.
I look forward to some answers!