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Pacific States Urged To Join Int'l Criminal Court

Pacific States Urged To Join International Criminal Court

In a 7 August 2007 letter to ministers of foreign affairs from Pacific island nations, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC)--an international network of more than 2,500 non-governmental organizations advocating for a fair, effective and independent Court--urged governments to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The nations and territories targeted by the CICC for the month of August are the Cook Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Kiribati. More than half of the world--105 countries--has joined the ICC, which is the first permanent international court capable of trying individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On World Day for International Justice (17 July), Japan made history by becoming the 105th state to formally accede to the Rome Statute.

"By joining this landmark Court, a major power like Japan has greatly raised the profile and strength of the Asia/Pacific region at this landmark court," said CICC Asia/Pacific Regional Coordinator Evelyn Balais Serrano.

"Indeed, Australia recently convened a meeting with Pacific and Asian states to strengthen their engagement with the Court. Furthermore, this is a region with a longstanding interest in countering large-scale crimes. In sum, the message is clear: the time for Pacific states to join the global struggle against impunity has arrived."

The Coalition's letter highlights support for the Court in the broader region: Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, Fiji, Japan, the Marshall Islands and Nauru, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Samoa, Timor Leste and Tajikistan are all members of the Court.

Although Bangladesh, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Thailand have all signed the Statute, they have yet to complete the process of ratification. The Coalition is equally encouraged by the momentum in Nepal and Indonesia toward ratification by 2008. In addition, Lao DPR has also announced its intention to accede but has yet to work out the requirements to do so.

"We are hopeful that support for international justice in Asia is building," said CICC Convenor William Pace.

"The accession of Pacific states to the ICC treaty would help galvanize this support and ensure greater participation by a region with much at stake when it comes to preventing and addressing grave crimes against large numbers of innocents."

For more information, please contact:

* Ms. Evelyn Serrano, Asia/Pacific regional coordinator, Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC)
Tel: +63 2 456 6196 ; +63 917 894 9786 (cell)

* Mr. Ross Robertson, MP (New Zealand) President, PGA International Council; Assistant Speaker of the NZ Parliament, Tel. +64 4 471 9873

* Mr. Harry Duynhoven, MP (New Zealand) Member of the Board, PGA Foundation; NZ Minister for Transport Safety, Tel. +64 4 471 9321


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