This was the second of the South Asian Regional conference of the ICC advocates, which Odhikar planned to organize annually. This was aimed at bring ICC advocates from South Asian region to review activities of research, campaign and ratification advocacy, to share experience and to further strategize the ICC campaign for South Asian region. ICC advocates from human rights organizations from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, host Bangladesh and Brussels based Convener of the Asian Network for the International Criminal Court (ANICC) participated in this conference. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) of the Government of Canada facilitated the conference.
Four meetings were held in 2005, on 12 February, 14 May, 16 June and 17 July.
The most significant strength of the ICC campaign in Bangladesh is that it has a very vibrant civil society, which is supportive of ratification and implementation of the ICC Statute. On many issues, civil society in Bangladesh has succeeded in putting pressure on the government to bring necessary policy reforms. For several years, the Bangladesh Coalition has been active in the ICC campaign and succeeded to get increasing and diversified number of people from all sections of society engaged in its advocacy works. Even if the ratification is not in the priority list of the Government of Bangladesh, the ICC issue is regularly being discussed at the policy level and analysis on legal and other implications of ratification is being done.
The weakness is lack of sustained campaign. Due to lack of resources and project support, it is not always possible to continue with the campaign activities at a level required to take it to certain momentum. Through other human rights issue-based monitoring and advocacy works, ICC messages are disseminated. This cannot always ensure focused currency and impetus needed to get the message across the policy agenda of the government. Campaign needs to be continued on a regular and sustained basis.
Another weakness is political environment. 2006 is the last year of the tenure of the present government. Parliament elections will be held in early 2007. Government is busy with its own political agenda to complete its tenure and how to get reelected in the next elections. The opposition political parties are busy with election strategies. There is the risk that election and other national political issues will get prominent and the ICC issue will have to take the backseat in 2006. However, this is an opportunity to include the ICC issue in the election manifesto of the major political parties.
The document includes plans for activities in 2006.