UB School of Law Prof. Nienke Grossman recently returned to the United Nations to provide expert testimony on proposed changes to the nomination and selection process for judges in the International Criminal Court (ICC). With the Assembly of States Parties planning to elect six new judges in December, the meeting was held to review procedures for nominating judges and explore best practices for elections. The Feb. 5 gathering was organized by OSJI and representatives of Uruguay and Switzerland.
In her comments, Grossman–who is co-director of UB School of Law’s Center for International and Comparative Law–stated that qualified, independent and impartial adjudicators are critical for international courts to maintain legitimacy and effectiveness. But, she added, it is not enough to choose qualified jurists. The selection process must be impeccable, she said, “because it enhances perceptions of judicial expertise, impartiality, and independence” and may result in “a more diverse group of nominees.”
She cited a study by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the International Committee of Jurists, published in 2017, which found that many states have failed to adhere to the recommended guidelines for the nomination process, such as ensuring an open, inclusive and transparent process. She described key issues states should address moving forward, such as what to include in a call for applications, how to publicize calls for applications, and what the selection process will look like.
Grossman, who addressed a different U.N. panel on this topic in October 2019, provided numerous examples of best practices in use by some European and Inter-American states when it comes to seeking and evaluating nominees. In her closing, she reiterated, “Designing for the first time or modifying national nominations procedures for the ICC is essential for that body’s legitimacy and effectiveness. It is an opportunity to build the court’s resilience and to promote and protect the norms that it interprets and applies, by selecting judges who are independent, imparital, qualified, and reflective of the diversity of our planet.”