"This success is easily explained:

First, NGOs and governments made use of each other’s relative advantages. NGOs applied their expertise, their ability to inform and frame the discourse, and their ability to affect dissenting governments through naming-and-shaming campaigns. Governments used their resources and decision-making power to implement rules and enforce them.

Second, ICC supporters conducted a campaign based on a strong and simple normative message. Justice for victims and an end to impunity had broad-based appeal.

Third, the willingness to pursue institutional innovation without major power support facilitated the relatively quick establishment of an independent institution. Despite the lack of major power buy-in, the Rome Statute represents a breakthrough in advancing individual accountability under international law.

"The ICC, which has now operated for thirteen years, is a testament to the potential of smart coalitions between CSOs and like-minded states combining to mobilize support for a significant global governance reform. The Court, although still facing many obstacles, has made marked progress in delivering justice for victims and ending impunity for the perpetrators of heinous crimes.

Sources: Bosco, Rough Justice; Cakmak, “Transnational Activism”; Glasius, “Expertise”; Pace and Panganiban, “The Power.” Testimonials from the CICC website.

Revitalizing the UN from the Grassroots

“The role of civil society will be crucial in solidifying achievements of the past, paving the way for new successes and resisting attempts to weaken international criminal justice. No doubt that the support of the Coalition for an International Criminal Court will be needed in the years ahead. The journey must continue.”

ICC President Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, 2016

Within three and a half years, on July 1, 2002—much more quickly than anyone had expected—the Rome Statute came into effect.

 "In June 1998, the Sixth Committee organized a conference in Rome to negotiate the text for the International Criminal Court’s founding statute. The ICC’s supporters maintained an important competitive edge because of their strong level of organization and coordination. Their 236 representatives outnumbered all other groups, giving them an advantage in framing and steering the debate. Many governments depended on dissemination outlets published by the CICC to stay updated, one being the International Criminal Court Monitor.

"Some CSOs even took part in the negotiations as invited members of state delegations. Further, the CICC played three vital roles:
(1) it facilitated the accreditation to the Rome conference of hundreds of CSOs;
(2) it served as a resource center for CSOs and delegations alike (especially small delegations); and last,
(3) it served as a neutral, nonpolitical platform for discussions around contentious issues
. The technical, rather than political, approach to these issues contributed to ultimately successful negotiations.

"After weeks of negotiation, the CICC and the like-minded group of states convinced the conference president to abandon the search for consensus and to seek a majority vote instead. The text voted on included essential elements for which the CICC had argued, especially an independent prosecutor and jurisdiction that would not depend on the consent of the state party concerned in each and every case. The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court was adopted with 120 votes in favor, 7 against, and 21 abstentions.

“In 1995, when it began its efforts, thirty NGOs made up the Coalition, and such a Court seemed a distant dream to many. Ten years later, the Court exists, and our world has taken a major step forward in the quest to end impunity."

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, 2005

The following excerpts from the Commission's Report provide context and perspective on how Smart Coalitions have been and can continue to be successful. NOTE: One of Global Voice's Partner Organizations, the World Federalist Movement's Institute for Global Policy, established the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) cited below, and remains its international secretariat.

The Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance has highlighted the influential role of Civil Society in faciltitating progressive change in global governance policy and institution building by combining the strengths of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and nation-states in Smart Coalitions.

    In its Report: Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, the Commission cites specific examples of highly successful Smart Coalitions and calls for CSOs to build and utilize such coalitions in support of the Report's recommended policy, progam and institutional changes.

    The Global Town Hall Project places a high priority on providing support for the establishment, strengthening and networking of Smart Coalitions in support of Commission reform recommendations. 

"Since the end of the Cold War, smart coalitions of like-minded states and nonstate actors have proven critical to achieving global governance reform whether through norm diffusion, policy innovation, or creation of a new global institution. For instance, the norms of human security and the Responsibility to Protect have each benefited, over the past two decades, from strong proponents within governments, civil society, and the business community. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, successfully teaming up with Canada and other governments to secure widespread support for the Mine Ban Treaty.

"A key example from the turn of the millennium is the successful Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC).
The idea for an international criminal court had existed for decades, but, similar to many other global governance reform ideas, was undercut by Cold War Realpolitik. In light of the horrors of the Bosnian civil war and the Rwandan genocide, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda—in the early days of a new post-Cold War era—created momentum for a permanent court.

"The CICC was established in February 1995.
It consisted of a core group of twenty-five CSOs striving toward a straightforward goal: a powerful and independent ICC. The criteria were to:
    (i) make an active commitment to promoting worldwide ratification and implementation of the ICC’s Rome Statute,
    (ii) maintain the integrity of the Rome Statute, and
    (iii) ensure that the ICC will be as fair, objective, and independent as possible

The CICC membership soon grew to a diverse group of more than two thousand CSOs from the Global North and South. The CICC recognized the importance of cooperation with like-minded governments. Coalition members made it a priority to develop relations with state representatives, combining their information and awareness campaigns with advocacy efforts. They consequently had a significant impact on the Court’s formation.

The Global Town Hall Project


Smart Coalitions