Letter to Kit Dawnay, Committee Specialist,
from the Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department, Foreign
and Commonwealth Office, 11 October 2004
Thank you for your letter of 10 September in
which you raised the Foreign Affairs Committee's concerns about
the budgetary situations of the International Criminal Court,
International Court of Justice and International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's International
Organisations Department have prepared the following outline of
budgetary structures and potential vulnerabilities of these courts,
explaining what we can do to help.
The International Criminal Court's budget is
made up of assessed contributions from States Parties to the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The number
of States Party currently stands at 97. The scale of contributions
is based on the UN system with the percentages recalibrated to
take into account the smaller number of contributing states. A
further 42 states have signed the Rome Statute and most plan to
ratify, thus becoming liable to contribute. The US have of course
said they will not ratify.
There are some concerns at the ICC relating
to the timing of contributions. In September 2003, contributionsas
a percentage of the total duestood at 75%. By the end of
2003, they had reached 90%. The National Audit Office of the United
Kingdom, who are external auditors to the Court, have advised
that a 90% collection rate compares favourably with many international
organisations. A similar pattern appears in 2004. As of July 2004,
only 20 States Party (including the UK) had paid their contributions
in full, 43 had paid nothing at all and the remaining states had
made partial contributions. The contributions received represented
70% of the 2004 total due.
States Party to the Rome Statute who have not
paid their contribution to the Court by the end of 2004 risk losing
their right to vote in the Assembly and in the Bureau as of 1
At the Third Assembly of States Parties (ASP)
of the International Criminal Court from 6-10 September 2004,
the subject of arrears was discussed. The United Kingdom put forward
a proposal to create a subsidiary body of the Assembly which could
work together with the Court to address the problem of arrears.
This proposal was not accepted despite some firm support from
a number of States Parties, but we did succeed in ensuring that
the proposal would be reconsidered next year.
The problem of arrears at the ICC does not,
at this stage, have significant financial implications but it
risks undermining the principle of universality of the Court which
is essential to its legitimacy. All States Parties need to pay
their contributions on time and in full. We do so and will continue
to press other States Parties to do so.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is
financed from the UN Regular Budget, which is negotiated and agreed
by the fifth Committee of the General Assembly. Although a number
of countries are in arrears with their payment of assessed contributions
to the UN budget as a whole, there are no specific problems affecting
The ICTY, (and ICTR-based in Arusha) is financed
from assessed contributions from the full UN membership, but based
on the ICTY's own budget separate from the UN Regular Budget and
on a slightly different scale from the Regular Budget. Because
of this separation of funds the Tribunal is consequently very
exposed to late or non-payment of contributions.
Concerns at the ICTY, though more serious than
at the ICC, also relate to the level of payments in cash terms
and to arrears.
By October 2004 only 72 states (including the
UK) had paid their contributions in full, 89 had paid nothing
at all and the remaining states had made partial contributions.
Contributions which, at the end of June 2004, stood at 77% of
the total due for this calendar year had reached 97.5% by October.
This improvement on the 89.5% payment level that existed when
the FAC visited The Hague in September is due to the recent decision
by Russia to clear its longstanding ICTY arrears of some US $12.8
Nevertheless, since only 104 states (again including
the UK) had paid their 2003 contributions in full, the outstanding
arrears from 2003 and previous years of some US $57 million remain
of concern. These arrears would be equivalent to 33% of the 2004
budget, with 88% of them being owed by five states including the
US and Japan. The US are late payers rather than non-payers, mainly
for reasons relating to their internal financial mechanisms. But
for some others non-payment reflects dissatisfaction with the
Tribunals' management record. We share this dissatisfaction in
many respects and have maintained pressure on the Tribunals to
improve efficiency. We believe that considerable progress has
been made and that withholding funds is only likely to have a
negative effect on efficiency and ability to meet targets of Completion
The UN's financial situation overall is precarious
with many member states in arrears. The organisation has tried
to keep up the pressure on Member States to pay subscriptions
on time, but the only official sanction available is the suspension
of voting rights in the General Assembly. In practice the sanction
of suspension of voting rights is used sparingly. Under Article
19 of the UN Charter a member's vote is withdrawn where "the
amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions
due from it for the preceding two full years". The trigger
for invocation of Article 19 is the sum of a country's dues to
the UN Regular Budget, Peacekeeping Budgets and the Tribunals.
For the Tribunals, arrears from a few major contributors further
exacerbate the financial problems because they have a disproportionate
effect on cashflow.
The UK has made and will continue to make every
effort to maintain pressure on the ICTY (and ICTR) to improve
efficiency. We must not allow the continuing impact of the financial
problems to be used as a shield to fend off legitimate questions
about operational efficiency. In 2003 we were a driving force
behind the UN Security Council resolution which split the responsibilities
of the Chief Prosecutorpreviously a joint position for
both ICTY and ICTR. Earlier this year the Security Council, in
an effort to contain spiralling costs and improve the chances
of meeting the Tribunal's Completion Strategy deadlines (end 2004
for investigations, end 2008 for first instance trials, end 2010
for appeals), called on the Tribunal to ensure that future indictments
concentrated on the most senior and most responsible.
We are lobbying bilaterally the principal debtors.
We also expressed our concerns at the recent meeting of the Geneva
Group (the largest budgetary contributors to the UN). We will
continue to press partners to pay their dues.
Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
11 October 2004