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NZ Welcomes Creation Of International Court

12 April 2002 Media Statement

NZ Welcomes Creation Of International Criminal Court

An historic event at the United Nations in New York has cleared the way for the creation of the first permanent International Criminal Court.

Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister Helen Clark said it represents a significant step forward for international justice and the protection of human rights.

Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted in Rome in July 1998, sixty states had to become party before the court could be set up. That happened today when ten states - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania, and Slovakia - ratified the treaty, taking the total number of parties over the required sixty.

Helen Clark said New Zealand was proud to be one of the founding members.

“We gave priority to early ratification, which took place in September 2000, in order to signal our strong commitment to the Court and to the principles of international justice that it embodies.

“The new court, which is to be established in The Hague, will have jurisdiction over individuals who commit genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and, at a future date, aggression.

“A permanent International Criminal Court will help to ensure that individuals responsible for the most serious violations of international law can be brought to justice without delay. The sad reality is that a permanent court is now needed more than ever, as events like those in Sierra Leone and East Timor illustrate.

“The 60th ratification marks the birth of the ICC. For the court to be truly representative and effective internationally, it needs to have wide geographical reach. New Zealand will continue to do what it can to encourage other States to work towards becoming party to the Rome Statute.

“A permanent court, operating wisely, will add an important new tool to the world's arsenal against human rights violations. Its existence will help deter these crimes in a way that ad hoc tribunals that are set up after the event do not,” Helen Clark said.


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