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International Criminal Court Established

International Criminal Court Established After Landmark UN Treaty Event Ten Countries to Ratify the ICC Treaty, Bringing Total Past 60 Required

(United Nations, 11 April 2002) - The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court lauded the overwhelming support for the creation of the world's first permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) at an historic UN treaty event today. The simultaneous deposit of ten ratifications of the Rome Statute will bring the number of countries formally supporting the Court from 56 to 66, thereby pushing the treaty over the 60 ratifications required to enter the treaty into force.

As of 1 July 2002, the ICC will have permanent jurisdiction over the most serious breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law -- crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The ten countries to deposit their instruments of ratification in the ceremony officiated by U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Hans Correll are: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia.

William Pace, Convenor of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court, an umbrella organization of more than 1,000 civil society organizations and independent legal experts from all regions of the world, heralded the achievement of the 60th ratification a victory in the international justice movement saying, "The establishment of the ICC has been declared the most significant advance in international law since the founding of the United Nations. This Court is capable of ending an era of impunity and is a symbol of the triumph of law over violence and brutality." He went on to say, "This is a victory not only for the legal experts and the advocates who have been committed to this process for so many years, this is a victory for all those who have been victimized by the commission of these unspeakable atrocities."

While the crimes in the ICC Statute have for decades been defined under international law, the lack of an enforcement mechanism led to the inability to prevent the past century from becoming known as the bloodiest in human history. Most of the perpetrators of these crimes were never brought to justice.

The ICC will function not only as a mechanism for ensuring just recourse under the law, it will also serve as a powerful deterrent to the future Pinochets, Pol Pots and Milosevics of the world. The Court is looked to by its proponents as a means of encouraging national judicial systems to address these crimes, as the Court will intervene only in cases in which a domestic legal system is either unwilling or unable to handle the case.

Pace explained that the 60 ratifications required for the treaty to enter into force will be achieved decades earlier than almost anyone predicted when the treaty was adopted in July 1998 in Rome. "Today's momentous achievement can only be understood as a victory of the new diplomacy model of developing international law," he said. "It reflects one of the best examples of what can be achieved through cooperation between governments, international organizations and NGOs."

While the treaty will enter into force and establish the jurisdiction of the Court on 1 July 2002, it is not likely that the Court will begin to hear cases for at least twelve months afterward. During that time key developments in the creation of the Court will be addressed in the final Preparatory Commission of the ICC in July and the first Assembly of States Parties in September of this year. These meetings will finalize processes for the nomination and election of judges and a prosecutor and formalize other critical administrative and procedural issues. The ICC will be located in the Hague, the Netherlands.


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