NGOs played a central role at the First Review Conference of the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statue in Kampala, Uganda, held May 31-June 11, 2010. The conference was promoted as “a unique opportunity for States and other stakeholders, such as international organizations and NGOs, to assess and reflect on the progress of the Rome Statute…and reaffirm their commitment to combat impunity for the most serious crimes.” NGOs lobbied for specific amendment language, issued briefing papers, moderated panels, and served as the biggest delegation at the conference.  ICC officials hailed “participation by civil society [as a] key to successful outreach for the Court and the Review Conference,” and many sessions recommended increasing direct NGO participation in the Court’s operations.

Several NGOs active in lawfare – including Amnesty International, HRW, FIDH, PCHR (funders include EU, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Norway), and the Center for Constitutional Rights (funders include Open Society Institute, Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Vanguard Charitable Endowment) – were highly visible at the event.  HRW’s Kenneth Roth moderated a panel on “peace and justice.”

FIDH, PCHR, and CCR used the ICC Review conference as a platform for anti-Israel campaigning.  At the opening of the event, the organizations issued a statement claiming that there is “prolonged impunity granted to Israel by the international community, despite Israel’s documented, persistent disregard for international and humanitarian law.”  The organizations demanded that the ICC Prosecutor “make an urgent determination regarding the opening of an investigation into the situation in the OPT”; that “[t]he UN Security Council: to refer the situation to the ICC”; and that [a]ll States Parties to the ICC [] take all appropriate measure, at the diplomatic and legal levels, to uphold the rule of law in the OPT.”