In the prospect of an international criminal court lies the promise of universal justice... no ruler, no State, no junta and no army anywhere can abuse human rights with impunity. Only then will the innocents of distant wars and conflicts know that they, too, may sleep under the cover of justice; that the, too, have rights, and that those who violate those rights will be punished.
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General
Is an International Court Needed?
We need an International Criminal Court to achieve justice by holding individuals accountable; to end impunity; to help end conflicts and ease the transition to peace; to remedy the deficiencies of ad hoc tribunals; to ensure justice when national criminal justice institutions are unwilling or unable to act, and to deter future war crimes.
criminal court was originally envisaged in 1948 when the
United Nations adopted the Genocide Convention in the
aftermath of the Second World War.
But it was not until a meeting in Rome in 1998
that the international community finally agreed to work towards
Aim of the Court
The International Criminal
Court will try individuals accused of committing genocide, war
crimes and crimes against humanity. Based in the Hague, it will
have 18 judges and its own Prosecutor.
It should not be confused with the International
Court of Justice, also at the Hague, which was established under
the UN Charter in 1945 to settle disputes between countries.
Coming after limited tribunals for Yugoslavia,
Rwanda, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Iraq, the International Criminal
Court is seen as the most significant international tribunal
since the courts established to try Nazi leaders after World
War II and the most important advancement in human rights protection
since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Court was formally established after
60 countries ratified the Rome Statute. On 1 July, 2002, it entered into force. It currently has around 125 signatories and 27 ratifications.
Senegal and the European Union are some of
its strongest supporters. But although former President Clinton
was keen, strong opposition exists in the USA.
The nomination period for the election of the judges and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court was opened on 9 September. The nomination period will close on 30 November 2002. First election is scheduled for the first resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties, to be held from 3 to 7 February 2003.
nearly half a century - almost as long as the United
Nations has been in existence - the General Assembly
has recognized the need to establish such a court
to prosecute and punish persons responsible for
crimes such as genocide. Many thought... that the
horrors of the Second World War - the camps, the
cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust - could
never happen again. And yet they have, in Cambodia,
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda. Our time - this
decade even - has shown us that man's capacity for
evil knows no limits. Genocide . . . is now a word
of our time, too, a heinous reality that calls for
a historic response."
Annan, United Nations Secretary-General