The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) welcomes the World Day for International Justice.
This year’s celebration coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Rome Statute, the treaty which brought the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s first permanent criminal tribunal with a global scope, into being. ANZASW recognises the important advances to the cause of international justice that the Court has so far achieved, both in its deterrent and retributive capacities.
Today we pay tribute to efforts of those who developed the International Justice and human rights movements around the world, which helped to deliver the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and important legal institutions such as the International Court of Justice.
We also pay tribute to our social work colleagues around the world who strive tirelessly to advance the rights of disadvantaged persons, walking with them to achieve self-determination, dignity and fulfilment, often in highly challenging environments. These unsung heroes and heroines operate on the frontlines of the fight for justice and social change with little recognition or resources yet make profound contributions to their communities, upholding the rights of clients through their practice.
Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we have a proud record of producing influential campaigners in the field of rights and justice, who have played an important role in tackling racism, homophobia, gender inequality and promoting indigenous rights, both domestically and across the globe. Today we also honour their priceless contributions.
Returning to the ICC, ANZASW notes with disappointment that so far fact the Court has exclusively indicted suspects from Africa; we hope that this imbalance will be corrected to better reflect the global mandate of the Chamber. However, we welcome recent moves by Court officials to consider investigating crimes in Afghanistan and to reach out to Palestinians afflicted by occupation. We also welcome the fact that the Court finally has jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, although only 35 states have so far ratified an amendment that makes their leaders liable for prosecution. Shamefully, Aotearoa New Zealand is not yet among them.
Social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand are guided by human rights principles; the Association confirms its dedication to these core values in its Code of Ethics and Constitution. As such, we strongly support the existence of mechanisms to ensure accountability for atrocities and which encourage respect for rights globally.
ANZASW commends successive governments of Aotearoa New Zealand that have been supportive of the global justice system, although we strongly encourage Wellington to ratify the Kampala Amendment, so that our leaders can be held to account for any involvement in crimes of aggression going forward.
We look forward to a future in which the ICC is strengthened, the politicisation of international justice comes to an end, with the result that no one is above international law and human rights are universally upheld.