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Estonia's Prosecutor General Andres Parmas misses out on ICC judge position

Prosecutor General Andres Parmas presenting his ICC judge candidacy before the UN in November 2023.
Prosecutor General Andres Parmas presenting his ICC judge candidacy before the UN in November 2023. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Estonia's Prosecutor General Andres Parmas Andres Parmas' bid to become an International Criminal Court (ICC) judge fell at the last hurdle on Wednesday.

Based in The Hague and founded in 2002, the ICC is the only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The ICC is distinct from the International Court of Justice, a UN organ which hears disputes between states.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the possibility of bringing Russian leader Vladimir Putin before the ICC has brought the organization, which Estonia signed up to in 1998, back under the spotlight.

Parmas is already a member of the ICC's trust fund board; his application is one of several to major international bodies from Estonia in recent years, such as former president Kersti Kaljulaid's candidacy for director general post of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Estonia itself held a UN Security Council non-permanent seat for 2020-2021, and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' name has been lined more than once to the NATO secretary general vacancy soon to appear.

Parmas, 46, applied to be an ICC judge for the period 2024-2032, and was eliminated in the 11th and final round of voting Wednesday evening.

A total of 13 people applied for six available ICC positions. The winning candidates came from: Mongolia, Romania, France, Slovenia, Tunisia and South Korea.

Parmas presented his candidacy last month, after announcing he was running for the position in March this year.

Parmas became a circuit court judge in 2014, working in criminal law, until becoming prosecutor general in February 2020, for a five-year term, replacing Lavly Perling.

The Estonian state funded Parmas' ICC candidacy to a total of €25,000.

Not only has the ICC been referred to after Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting in February 2022, but the situation between Israel and Palestine is also relevant.

This predates the current Israel-Gaza War; in 2021 Fatou Bensouda, then an ICC judge and now Gambia's High Commissioner to the UK, issued a statement in respect of the situation in Palestine, a situation dating back to 2014 and referring to alleged war crimes in Israeli-occupied territories including Gaza.

The following month, ie. in April 2021, Boris Johnson, then Prime Minister of key Estonian ally the UK, wrote, responding to a pro-Israel lobby group, opposing any ICC investigation into the Israel-Palestine situation noted above.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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