Conference organized by the Municipality of Rome
and Non C’è Pace Senza Giustizia – No Peace without Justice
Campidoglio, Rome, 17 July 2000
Message from Mr. Hans Corell
Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs
The Legal Counsel of the United Nations
Greetings and best wishes to all of you who have gathered today at the Campidoglio in Rome. I welcome this manifestation organized by The Municipality of Rome and the non-governmental organization Non C’è Pace Senza Giustizia – No Peace without Justice.
Two years ago, we all witnessed one of the most important historic moments for international peace and justice: the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. A total of 120 States voted in favour of the Statute - a truly global and collective expression of desire for justice.
At the ceremony after the adoption of the Statute, held at the Compidoglio in Rome, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan referred to the adoption of the Statute as a gift of hope to future generations and a giant step forward in the march towards universal human rights and the rule of law. Since then, the international community has continued to walk on this path in support of the International Criminal Court for the sake of international peace and justice.
A Preparatory Commission was established to formulate rules, guidelines and agreements necessary for the functioning of the Court. The Commission held its fifth session from 12 June to 30 June at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In a tremendous effort, on the last day of the session, the Commission was able to finalize draft texts on the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and on the Elements of Crimes. These texts are of great importance to the manner in which the Statute will be applied and for the effective functioning of the Court, but they will also promote a better understanding of the way in which the International Criminal Court will operate.
I am certain, that these outcomes and the spirit of compromise and mutual respect, in which they were achieved, will lead to a broader acceptance of the Court and bring the international community a step further on the path towards international peace and justice.
The next milestone on the way will be the entry into force of the Rome Statute. As you know, 60 ratifications are needed before the Court can become operational.
So far, 97 States have signed the Rome Statute while 14 States have ratified it. It is encouraging to note that several States have reported significant progress in their internal ratification processes.
Ratification by as many States as possible is crucial, since the Court’s effectiveness will depend, to a great extent, on the number of States that support it. We need an International Criminal Court that is broadly accepted and supported by all countries. Global acceptance of the Rome Statute is important to give the Court the universal character that it must have in order to function in the most effective way.
The International Criminal Court is needed to achieve justice for all, to end impunity for the severest crimes, to help to end conflicts, to ensure justice when national institutions are unwilling or unable to act and to deter future war criminals. This Court will help to ensure that impunity will become a matter of history.
The international community now has to make clear that it will no longer tolerate the most heinous crimes that the Court is meant to address. They have to do this by ratifying the Statute, so that the Court is enabled to fulfil its mandate. I therefore again urge all States to work intensively towards ratification of the Statute, so that these common goals of the international community will be reached in the near future. I know that many non-governmental organizations stand ready to support and assist in this effort.
Finally, let me turn, in particular, to the people and the Government of the Republic of Italy and their contribution to the establishment of the International Criminal Court. As the representative of the Secretary-General and responsible for the organization of the Rome Conference in 1998, I recall with great gratitude the hospitality that Italy extended to all of us who in different capacities were engaged in the Conference. We were all warmly welcomed in Rome. Special thanks is owed to the President of the Conference, Giovanni Conso, who is among you today. By hosting the Conference, by signing the Statute on 18 July 1998 and by ratifying it on 26 July 1999, Italy has certainly taken the lead in one of the most remarkable legal and political efforts of the 20th century.
There is great symbolism in the fact that the Statute was adopted in the eternal City of Rome and bears its name. I had the privilege of accompanying Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the ceremony at the Campidoglio on 18 July 1998. In ancient Rome this place was known as Capitolium, in English the Capitol. It struck me at the ceremony that this is where the Roman senators ruled until the emperors came some 2000 years ago; the senators met in the Curia right nearby. I thought: Is it not remarkable that, today, the heirs of these mighty senators are the warmest supporters of the International Criminal Court? Could it be because you represent both history and, in a sense, also the future. I can think of no people better placed than the people of Italy to convince today’s governments and today’s senators on other Capitol Hills, that they should make use of this historic opportunity to sign and ratify the Rome Statute, in order to end the impunity that has caused so much suffering and sorrow among human beings since time immemorial.
I thank you.