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NZ Closer To Backing International Criminal Court

NZ Closer To Formal Backing Of International Criminal Court

The Government has begun formalising New Zealand's support for establishing an International Criminal Court, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

Mr Goff said the Government had agreed in principle to become a party to the Rome Statute, which provides for the establishment of a permanent, independent International Criminal Court.

Such a court would have jurisdiction over individuals who commit genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and, at a future date, aggression.

"An International Criminal Court will help to ensure that individuals responsible for the most serious violations of international law are brought to justice without delay," Mr Goff said.

"This will, in turn, both aid the victims of the particular crimes, and send a signal that there will no longer be impunity for these crimes. It will represent a significant step forward for the protection of human rights and the promotion of the rule of law at the international level".

The Court will be established when 60 states have ratified the Rome Statute. To date, 95 countries, including New Zealand, have signed the Statute and seven have ratified. Many other countries are well advanced in their ratification process.

Mr Goff said there were two final steps before New Zealand could ratify the Rome Statute. The first, in line with New Zealand's treaty-making obligations, was Select Committee consideration of the Rome Statute itself, while the second was the passage of legislation implementing obligations that the Statute imposes.

"The bill is currently being drafted and should be ready for introduction within the next two to three months.

"I would hope that New Zealand will be in a position to ratify the Rome Statute later this year. Early ratification will signal our strong commitment to the Court and the principles of justice that it will embody," Mr Goff concluded.

ENDS

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