Inaugurated Eighteen Judges to be Sworn-In
International Criminal Court to be Inaugurated Eighteen Judges to be Sworn-In At High-Level Ceremony
(The Hague, the Netherlands) - Eighteen judges who will oversee the formation of the world's first permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) will be sworn in tomorrow in The Hague. Queen Beatrix, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and scores of world leaders, including presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, justice ministers and other eminent citizens will be attending the Inauguration. The distinguished jurists, of which seven are women and eleven are men, will be "the trustees of a new system of international justice," said William R. Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a network of more than 2,000 civil society organizations that has campaigned for the ICC during the last eight years.
The judges arrived in The Hague last week for orientation meetings at the provisional headquarters of the new ICC. Among the most pressing initial decisions, the first bench must elect a President and two Vice-Presidents, divide into chambers, and make decisions about which judges will serve as full-time and which as part-time during the Court's first years. The President of the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) of the Rome Statute of the ICC and the UN Ambassador from Jordan, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, has been meeting with the judges.
The ICC will be an independent international organization, but it will have a close working relationship with the United Nations. "In the ICC, the Secretary-General, the UN and the Security Council will have a powerful new ally in the maintenance of international peace and security," said Pace. The ASP, comprised of the eighty-nine (89) nations that have ratified the ICC treaty, will be responsible for the legal and political oversight of the Court, and for the financing of the organization. The ASP approved a first year budget of thirty (30) million Euros in September of last year.
When all the officers of the ICC are in place, the Court can proceed with hiring all necessary staff. Presently, there are approximately forty (40) staff helping to prepare the foundations of the ICC. ICC experts state that it takes at least several hundred staff to be able to prepare and conduct major international investigations and prosecutions of crimes on the scale of the war crimes and genocide that occurred in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. Thus, it is estimated that a fully functioning Court and first cases could not occur for many months. According to Pace, "The ICC will be permanent, and once it is fully operational and staffed to cover situations that may arise anywhere in the world, the response time should be much faster than it has been with the ad hoc tribunals."
The government of the Netherlands, host country of the ICC, is organizing the Inauguration. The Netherlands is providing the facilities for the interim Court and is also making preparations for the permanent premises, expected to be ready in about 7 years.
Coalition members have expressed strong support of the results of the ICC election. Elected judges represent all regions and principal legal systems (10 civil law, 8 common law); and the bench reflects unprecedented gender balance in an international tribunal, as well as a balance between jurists with experience as judges, prosecutors, and in criminal law (10) and those with expertise in international humanitarian and human rights law (8). Judges and Presidents of both the ad hoc Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ICTY, ICTR) were among those elected, and the independent judges nominated by two permanent members of the UN Security Council (France and UK) were elected. Candidates from the nations that have contributed most to the establishment of the ICC are also among the first bench.
With the inauguration of the ICC, the ASP moves one step closer to electing the Prosecutor, which will likely take place during the April 21-23 second resumed session of the ASP. The ASP President is overseeing the process of nominations and, in accordance with a request by the governments of the ASP during their September 2002 meeting, it is hoped that the Prosecutor can be chosen by consensus.
The Coalition for the ICC expects that with the election of the Prosecutor and the Registrar shortly thereafter, the Court should by mid-year be ready to begin addressing the more than 200 referrals it has reportedly received.
At a convocation at the Peace Palace in The Hague on Monday, Pace stated, "The 20th century was the most violent and war-ridden in all history. So far, this dreadful legacy continues. But, tomorrow in The Hague, with the world's attention overwhelmed by an impending new war, one of the greatest anti-war institutions in all history will be quietly inaugurated."
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Elected judges, and the number of years they will serve according to a random drawing of lots are: Mr. René Blattmann of Bolivia, six years; Ms. Maureen Harding Clark of Ireland, nine years; Ms. Fatoumata Dembele Diarra of Mali, nine years; Mr. Adrian Fulford of the United Kingdom, nine years; Mr. Karl T. Hudson-Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago, nine years; Mr. Claude Jorda of France, six years; Mr. Hans-Peter Kaul of Germany, three years; Mr. Philippe Kirsch of Canada, six years; Mr. Erkki Kourula of Finland, three years; Ms. Akua Kuenyehia of Ghana, three years; Ms. Elizabeth Odio Benito of Costa Rica, nine years; Ms. Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, six years; Mr. Geoghios M. Pikis of Cyprus, six years; Mr. Mauro Politi of Italy, six years; Mr. Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa, three years; Mr. Sang-hyun Song of the Republic of Korea, three years; Ms. Sylvia H. de Figueiredo Steiner of Brazil, nine years; and Ms. Anita Usacka of Latvia, three years.