100 Countries Party to the ICC Treaty Reached
Historic Benchmark of 100 Countries Party to the ICC Treaty Reached Today
Mexico’s Treaty Deposit at the UN Reveals a Momentum that will not be Reversed
(New York) – In a ceremony held today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mexico deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), becoming the 100th State Party to the ICC.
Mexico overcame a series of considerable political and constitutional hurdles to reach this day. The treaty deposit – which began with Mexico’s signature of the Rome Statute on 7 September 2000 – represents more than five years of concentrated work. Commenting on this momentous achievement and on what the future holds for Mexico, Maria Sirvent, Coordinator of the Mexican Coalition for the International Criminal Court, representing over sixty Mexican non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support the ICC, said, “Mexico's ratification of the Rome Statute represents an important advance in the fight against impunity. We have prevailed in a long and difficult struggle to get to where we are today and we want to congratulate all the government authorities who were involved in this process. We now urge the Mexican Senate to begin drafting comprehensive domestic legislation to ensure that the ICC will be effective complement to our national courts.”
Today’s landmark 100th ratification is seen by NGOs around the world as a testament to the remarkable strides made by the ICC and its supporters in its short history to date. William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) – a network of more than 2,000 civil society organizations that support a fair, effective and independent ICC – said, “Today’s ratification represents another remarkable advance in the globalization of international justice. One hundred nations today are building a bridge to a more peaceful 21st century.”
As the 100th country to ratify the ICC treaty, Mexico has joined with the majority of the world in showing its support for an end to impunity. Almost every country in the European Union, twenty-seven African countries, and all but four Latin American countries have now joined the new system of international justice.
Many of the countries who have become party to the ICC, including Mexico, have faced enormous pressure from the United States which continues to oppose the Court. In addition to pushing countries to not ratify the ICC treaty, the US has threatened countries with the loss of US aid in order to secure bilateral ICC immunity agreements. These agreements exempt US nationals and US personnel (including contractors) from ICC prosecution for crimes committed. To date, the US has cut millions of dollars of much-needed aid to more than twenty countries that support the ICC including South Africa, Peru, Croatia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Kenya.
Notes for Editors:
1. The ICC is the world’s first permanent global criminal court. It is an independent body and was established in The Hague, the Netherlands on 1 July 2002 when the ICC treaty entered into force. The ICC does not have jurisdiction over crimes prior to that date.
2. The Czech Republic is the only country in the European Union that has not yet ratified the ICC treaty. Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua are the four Latin American countries that have as yet to become ICC members.
3. The Court is currently investigating cases in Darfur, Sudan; the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Uganda. The ICC Prosecutor’s office is also analyzing eight situations on four continents including the Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire.
4. The ICC issued its first arrest warrants for five top leaders of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on 13 October 2005. The LRA is believed to have orchestrated tens of thousands of killings, abductions, and gender-based crimes in Uganda during the course of the Ugandan civil war which began in 1986.
5. The ICC’s geographic jurisdiction extends over the territories and nationals of the 100 countries that have ratified or acceded to its treaty. The Court may also have jurisdiction in situations referred by the UN Security Council. In accordance with the Court’s “complementarity” principle, however, the ICC will only act when national courts have been unable or unwilling to do so.
6. After decades of failure, the idea of establishing an International Criminal Court was again proposed in 1989 at the United Nations by Trinidad and Tobago. Formal UN negotiations began in the early 1990s and were finalized in July 1998 in Rome when 120 countries approved the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Rome Statute entered into force just four years later on 1 July 2002.
7. The CICC is not an organ of the Court but rather an independent NGO network of more than 2,000 civil society organizations working to promote a fair, effective and independent ICC. The CICC was established in February 1995 and has offices in New York City and The Hague as well as seven regional offices around the world. For more information: www.iccnow.org
Experts’ Quotes on the 100th Ratification of the ICC Treaty
Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC Officials’ Comments:
“I welcome very warmly the deposit today by the Government of Mexico of its instrument of ratification; an occasion sweetened further by the fact that it is the 100th accession. Mexico’s action is further proof of the wide appeal of the International Criminal Court and of our collective desire to ensure an end to impunity for those committing the most monstrous crimes known to humankind.”
– His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute
International Criminal Court Officials’ Comments:
“Universality remains one of our key objectives. I therefore welcome the 100th ratification of the Rome Statute by Mexico as an important step on our path”.
– Judge Philippe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Comments:
“While we are happy to see Mexico’s ratification today, it reinforces what a pity it is that Chile is not participating in this highest expression of international justice, especially in light of the fact that Chile has been renowned for taking the lead in judicial reform within its own borders, including Chile’s civil code and its very early abolition of slavery.”
– Leonardo Aravena Arredondo, Internacional Justice and ICC Coordinator, Amnesty International Chile
“With Mexico becoming the ICC’s 100th state party, the message is clear to court supporters and foes alike – this institution is here to stay. The time has long passed for the Bush administration to drop its vain campaign to undercut the Court. The more Washington tries to push its unlawful bilateral immunity agreements and airbrush the ICC out of UN resolutions, the more foolish it looks. By demonizing the ICC, the US administration is barking up the wrong tree.”
– Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch
“Today’s ratification positions Latin America as a strong and united block on international justice. This ratification was stalled in Mexico for almost three years because the ICC was seen as such a divisive issue there. However, as Mexican Parliamentarians came to understand the real implications of the ICC – that it is a truly independent judicial organization aimed at preventing the world’s most serious human rights violations – they embarked upon a long and complex constitutional revision process that culminated in an almost unanimous vote to approve the Rome Statute of the ICC in the Senate on 21 June 2005. Parliamentarians for Global Action recognizes the essential role played by Mexican Senate Vice-President Cesar Jauregui in bringing about national consensus between majority and opposition on the ICC, bearing in mind that the majority in Mexican Congress is the opposition to the Mexican Government which has steadily supported the ICC since 2000.”
– Dr. David Donat Cattin, Legal Advisor, International Law & Human Rights Project, Parliamentarians for Global Action
“Most of the world’s nations have ratified the Rome Statute – almost all of states in Europe, all but four in Latin America, and most of sub-Saharan Africa. With today’s ratification by Mexico, now two-thirds of North America has ratified; the United States is surrounded by major nations accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
–William R. Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the ICC
“Mexico’s ratification affirms the overwhelming support for the International Criminal Court. Amnesty International calls on all other states that have not yet ratified the Rome Statute to do so as soon as possible. Every ratification discredits the groundless accusations by opponents of the Court, in particular the United States, that the Court has inadequate safeguards against politically motivated prosecutions. One hundred states are satisfied that this is not the case.”
– Hugo Relva, International Justice Project Legal Adviser, Amnesty International
[Contact Information: In Villa Elisa, Argentina:
“The ratification of the Rome Statute by Mexico serves as a true encouragement for the many varied efforts that are currently being undertaken by countries in Latin America, not only just in terms of ratifying the ICC treaty itself, but also in terms of adopting important complementary instruments, such as the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court, and in the effective implementation at a national level of the standards provided in the ICC’s founding document. We are hopeful that Chile, as well as other countries in Central America and in the Caribbean, will shortly join Mexico and other states in the region that are already parties to the Rome Statute".
– Francisco Soberon, Executive Secretary of the Peruvian National Council for Human Rights (Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Peru)
“We send our congratulations to Mexico. Their ratification serves as an example to the handful of remaining Latin American countries that have yet to become States Parties to this important international justice mechanism. We urge our own government to accelerate its ratification process and resist the US efforts to undermine the Court’s vital role with their bilateral immunity agreements. We also hope that the Nicaraguan government will move swiftly to ratify the Statute and commit to support this all-important global fight against impunity.”
– Norwin Solano Mairena, Reprsentative of the Nicaraguan Coalition for the ICC
“It is hugely encouraging for Guatemala and the people of Guatemala that Mexico has ratified the Rome Statute. Without a doubt, this ratification is very symbolic for us as we take comfort from the fact that Mexico, our neighbor and friend, has been able to overcome multiple judicial and political obstacles in order to join the growing number of States around the world that have reaffirmed their strong resolve to fight impunity.”
– Maria Eugenia Solis-Garcia, Founding member of the Asociación Feminista la Cuerda (La Cuerda Feminist Association)
"With the 100th ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by Mexico and the increasing support for international criminal justice, the balance is tipping: there is an increasingly smaller number of "safe havens" for would-be perpetrators of crimes under international law. Having worked closely with Mexico in organizing a Regional Conference on Ratification of the ICC Statute in 2002, NPWJ welcomes the important step taken by Mexico today, alongside the 99 other States who have made that journey. We urge all States to support the growing fight against impunity, in particular by cooperating to bring to justice those people still evading justice in Africa, particularly from the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and in the former Yugoslavia."
– Sergio Stanzani and Gianfranco Dell'Alba, President and Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice
“The 100th ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court demonstrates the commitment of the majority of countries in the world to bring to justice perpetrators of genocide and other crimes against humanity. Governments must now transform their commitment into reality by assisting the Court’s investigations, particularly in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.”
–John Stompor, International Justice Program Senior Associate, Human Rights First