Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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UN chief wants universal ratification of ICC founding treaty

UN secretary general on ICCUnited Nations Secretary-General António Guterres this week stressed the importance of all states ratifying the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the central institution of the global criminal justice system, known as the Rome Statute.

“To ensure accountability around the world, it is essential to reach universal ratification of the Rome Statute,” Guterres said at the opening of the 16th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the treaty, whose adoption in 1998, he said, was “a hopeful, historic moment near the end of a century marked by atrocities and unspeakable inhumanity.”

“I invite all State parties to support any effort to achieve this goal,” he added.

According to ICC, 123 countries are States Parties to the Statute –33 African States, 19 Asia-Pacific States, 18 Eastern European States, 28 Latin American and Caribbean States and 25 Western European and other States.

The UN chief noted almost 20 years after the signing of its founding instrument, the Court has become a fundamental pillar of the rule of law in the world.

The Court has helped investigate and secure convictions in important cases, such as the use of child soldiers, sexual violence as a tactic of war and also attacks on cultural property, while helping many State Parties reinforce domestic criminal justice systems.

Guterres said “the ICC was created as a court of last resort” and States Parties have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute serious crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“The United Nations supports State Parties, at their request, to develop domestic capacities to uphold this obligation,” he said.

He explained how essential it is to reach universal ratification of the Statute to ensure accountability when States Parties fall short of fulfilling the obligation.

Guterres welcomed the decisions of South Africa and The Gambia to rescind their notifications of withdrawal, but expressed regret over Burundi’s decision to withdraw from the Statute.

He added achieving justice also meant assisting victims, noting the Trust Fund for Victims is engaged in reparations and supporting efforts to address the harm caused by the international crimes covered by the Statute.

 
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