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Trust Fund for Victims
Trust Fund for Victims
The former Board of Directors for the Trust Fund for Victims, including (l-r) Madam Minister Simone Veil of France, His Excellency Mr. Tadeusz Mazowiecki from Poland, and His Eminence Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu from South Africa convened its first meeting in The Hague on 22 April 2004.
In his welcoming remarks to the Trust Fund’s Directors, Judge Philippe Kirsch, President of the ICC, said, “For the very first time in history, a possibility has been created to address the wrongs which have been committed through a claim for reparations against the individual convicted by an international criminal court, including an option to claim restitution, compensation and rehabilitation.”

The acknowledgement of the rights of victims and the inclusion of a central reparative mandate are key achievements of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Statute recognises the right of victims to be physically and psychologically protected from potential reprisals or from re-traumatization through the process and to receive adequate support throughout the process. It also recognizes the rights of victims to participate in proceedings and to apply for reparations before the Court. The Trust Fund is part of this series of unprecedented steps to fully acknowledge the rights and needs of victims.

Article 79 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that: “A Trust Fund shall be established by decision of the Assembly of States Parties for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, and of the families of such victims.”

Rule 98 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence then details the basic framework of such a fund. The Trust Fund for Victims was established on 9 September 2002 by the Assembly of States Parties. It is obliged to report annually to the Assembly of States Parties on the activities and projects of the Trust Fund and all voluntary contributions received.

Regulations of the Trust Fund for Victims

Resolution 6 of the 2002 Assembly of States Parties (ASP) requested that the Board of Directors develop suggestions for further management criteria for consideration and adoption by the ASP. The Board of Directors developed the management criteria at their first meeting, which took place from 20-22 April 2004 at the seat of the Court in The Hague. As part of their deliberations, they consulted with staff persons at the Court and a range of external experts. The draft Regulations were developed and approved by the Board of Directors and transmitted to the ASP for its consideration at its third session in September 2004.

At the Third Session of the Assembly of States Parties on 6 September 2004, States Parties considered the report of the Board of Directors on its activities and projects and decided to establish a Secretariat of the Board of Directors, operating under the full authority of the Board in matters concerning its activities and determining that its staff shall be attached to the Registry. Further, the Assembly requested that the Bureau implement an appropriate mechanism for receipt of comments from and consultation with States Parties and the Board of Directors. States Parties had until end January 2005 to submit written comments to a mechanism established by the Bureau. The Bureau established a Task Force to examine the Draft Regulations and amend them as they deemed appropriate before recommending their adoption to the Fourth Session of the ASP in November 2005.

During its Fourth Session, the ASP had to consider the draft regulations of the Trust Fund for Victims and decide on their adoption. Despite meetings on the regulations organized in New York by the Bureau and coordinated by the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, at the beginning of the ASP, States remained divided on the issue of earmarking, with some States opposed to any form of earmarking on principle. On the question of the trigger mechanism, a debate remained amongst States as to the scope of the mandate the Trust Fund. While some States (including France, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo) believed it should also have an assistance component that could intervene before convictions and independently of the Court, others (including the United Kingdom and Canada) firmly believed that the Trust Fund should have a reparative function only and should strictly act upon an order of the Court.

The ASP agreed during its fourth meeting that the TFV Board was empowered to “provide physical or psychological rehabilitation or material support for the benefit of victims and their families". The board has to inform the relevant Chamber of the Court of its conclusion to undertake specified activities and the intended activities may not pre-determine any issue to be determined by the Court violate the presumption of innocence or be prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and affair and impartial trial. See the Regulations of the Trust Fund for Victimes for more information.