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The International Criminal Court celebrates its 10-year anniversary

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ICC judges from left: Robert Fremr Anthony T. Carmona Howard Morrison, Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Chile Eboe-Osuji. Photo: ICC

Every year on July 17, the world celebrates World Day for International Justice, also known as International Criminal Justice Day, in recognition of the emerging system of international criminal justice. On the same day in 1998, the Rome Statute was adopted by 120 States, thereby creating the international treaty that is the legal basis for establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002, upon being ratified by 60 States, and the ICC officially started its activities.

The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, and thereby prevent future occurrences of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.  The Court is a fully functional institution supported by 121 States Parties.

Over the past ten years, the ICC has become a fully functional institution, with 15 cases having been brought before the Court, 6 of which are at the trial stage. ICC judges have issued 20 arrest warrants and 6 arrests have been made; they also issued nine summonses to appear, all of which have been honoured. On 14 March 2012, the ICC rendered its first verdict in the case The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo; the accused was found guilty of the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 into military forces, and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

In June 2012 Gambian Fatou Bensouda has been appointed new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, after serving as ICC’s Deputy Prosecutor on Prosecutions since 2004. The Office of the Prosecutor is conducting investigations in seven situations, Uganda, the DRC, CAR, Darfur (Sudan), Kenya, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire, as well as seven preliminary examinations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Honduras, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea and Guinea.

This year marks the ICC’s 10-year anniversary, and on this occasion a new website was launched to commemorate the milestone event.

In commemoration of World Day for International Justice, Amnesty International has also launched its global Campaign for International Justice: “Demand Justice Now” to ensure access to justice, truth and reparation for victims of crimes under international law around the world through the creation of an effective system of international justice. According to Amnesty, the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002, has sent a clear message around the world that failure to investigate and prosecute these crimes at the national level, will not be tolerated. The challenge now is to ensure that this new international justice system succeeds in practice.

Amnesty International’s Campaign for International Justice aims at getting more states to ratify and implement The Rome Statute, encouraging governments and intergovernmental organisations to provide the ICC with full cooperation and support and forcing more national authorities to exercise universal jurisdiction to ensure their countries are not safe havens for perpetrators of crimes under international law.

Nadia Elgohary

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