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International Criminal Court: A reality at last

11-04-2002 News Release 02/24



Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the 60th ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This ratification, which means that the Statute will enter into force on 1 July 2002, is a milestone in the international community's fight to end impunity for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The ICRC has consistently supported the creation of a permanent international criminal court, which it sees as an essential component of the international legal order and a necessary complement to national courts in their efforts to bring people suspected of having committed war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity to justice. The ICRC actively took part as an expert in negotiations leading to the adoption of the Statute at a diplomatic conference held in Rome in July 1998. It also contributed to the Preparatory Commission's work in drawing up the Elements of Crimes and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The ICRC congratulates the States which have become party to the Rome Statute less than four years after its adoption. It encourages all other States to join them, thereby creating a truly universal International Criminal Court able to punish war criminals and perpetrators of genocide or crimes against humanity in cases where national criminal justice systems are unable or unwilling to do so.

The States Parties will need to rapidly adopt comprehensive implementing legislation so as to be able to cooperate with the Court. This is vital if the Court is to function effectively.

Through its Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law, the ICRC provides advice and technical assistance for States working towards ratification and implementation of all treaties of international humanitarian law and other relevant treaties such as the Rome Statute. In its work to promote the Statute, the Advisory Service encourages States to carry out a thorough review of their national criminal law to ensure that the crimes within the Court's jurisdiction — war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity — can be prosecuted in national courts. The Advisory Service further encourages States to prosecute these crimes on the basis of universal jurisdiction — that is, regardless of the place where the offence was committed and of the nationality of the alleged perpetrator.