By ensuring that justice is done, the International Criminal Court (ICC) not only brings hope to the victims of atrocities but can also deter the commission of future crimes, said a senior United Nations official.
“Effective justice is a deterrent,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said in a keynote address to an event to mark the Day of International Criminal Justice, which is observed on 17 July.
“There is some fear about the ICC and such fear is healthy and it is born out of respect. Hopefully, the possibility of appearing before the ICC will deter many parties from committing horrendous crimes,” she told the event, which took place at UN Headquarters in New York, UN News Service reports.
Coomaraswamy noted that the ICC has been “instrumental” in bringing the issue of children and armed conflict to the attention of the international community and ending the cycle of impunity for perpetrators of grave violations against children.
It has also helped to break the silence on atrocities committed against humanity, she said.
“Breaking the silence is the first act of healing. The ICC has made talking, venting and acting against war crimes and crimes against humanity legitimate and created a network of activists and agencies who are in a position to support victims seeking justice for the crimes committed against them.”
In June 2010, the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC decided that 17 July would be observed as the Day of International Criminal Justice. The date marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC – the first permanent global tribunal tasked with trying people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – 13 years ago.
“Today, the ICC is a major international institution securing justice for victims when it cannot be delivered at the national level,” the President of the ICC, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, said in a message for the Day.
He noted that support for the ICC is growing around the world, with 114 nations having already joined the Rome Statute. Grenada and Tunisia will become the next two States Parties later this summer, and several other countries have announced their intention to join.
“Everywhere, people want peace, justice, rule of law and respect for human dignity,” he stated. “The ICC represents the gathering of nations in a community of values and inspirations for a more secure future for children, women and men around the world.”