Secretary-General hails work of International Criminal Court

29 June 2007 – The creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is one of the “major achievements in international law during the past century,” providing the opportunity to hold to account the world’s worst war criminals, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement released today to mark a key anniversary in the ICC’s founding.

Sunday will be the fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the ICC, which allowed the Court to be formally established after years of negotiation between countries.

“During the relatively short time of its existence, the Court has already established itself as the centrepiece of a system of international criminal justice,” Mr. Ban said in his statement. “It is both the embodiment of, and the driving force behind, a profound evolution of international culture and law.”

The ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of carrying out the most serious crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It holds trials only when national courts cannot or will not conduct their own proceedings.

The Rome Statute which brought the Court into being now has 104 States Parties, and Mr. Ban urged those nations that have not yet become parties to do so.

He added that “already the activities of the Court and its Prosecutor [Luis Moreno-Ocampo] have a deterring effect on potential perpetrators of international crimes.”

So far the ICC has issued arrest warrants for two suspects accused of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region and five leaders of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. Thomas Lubanga, a rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was arrested last year. The Court has also opened investigations into allegations of killings and rapes in the Central African Republic (CAR).

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