INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE

'This is a very important moment in the struggle for international justice as it means that people suspected of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide - no matter what their rank - may be tried by the Court,' said Amnesty International.

'A message is being sent around the world that people planning the worst crimes and human rights violations can no longer do so secure in the knowledge that they won't be held accountable. Countries ratifying have accepted the primary obligation to investigate and prosecute people accused of horrendous crimes and that when they are unable or unwilling to do so the ICC may step in to bring them to justice.'

Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia ratified the Statute today at the UN's New York headquarters.

The 60th ratification triggers the entry into force of the Rome Statute on 1 July 2002 and the Court's jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is expected that the Court's inauguration ceremony could take place in February 2003 at its seat in The Hague.

'At this vital stage in the establishment of the Court, ratifying states must ensure that there is sufficient support, including funding, to set up the Court as soon as possible and to ensure its effectiveness from its beginning. Amnesty International calls on all states yet to do so to ratify the Rome Statute and to enact effective implementing legislation as soon as possible.'

Amnesty International continues to lobby for wider ICC ratification as the Court will have jurisdiction only if crimes were committed on a ratifying state's territory or by nationals of a ratifying state.

Background

The Rome Statute of the ICC was adopted at a 17 July 1998 diplomatic conference. The Statute provides for the creation of a permanent ICC to investigate and prosecute people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. A provision was included in the Statute that 60 states must ratify the Statute before the Court can be established.

Amnesty International has been working, together with the more than 1,000 members of the Coalition for an ICC, for the establishment of the Court since 1993. Immediately following the adoption of the Rome Statute, Amnesty International launched a worldwide campaign for all governments to ratify the Statute and to enact effective implementing legislation, including providing for full cooperation with the Court.

Amnesty International has issued a paper with questions and answers about the 60th ratification, including information on the next steps for the Court's establishment (available, with other ICC documents, at: http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/ICChome )

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