SENEGAL FIRST STATE TO RATIFY ROME STATUTE OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT19990203 NEW YORK, 3 February (Office of Legal Affairs) -- Senegal has become the first State to ratify the Statute to establish an International Criminal Court, the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs announced today. The instrument of ratification, lodged with the Secretariat on 2 February, has been received two weeks prior to a Preparatory Commission meeting in New York that will discuss arrangements for the operation of the Court once the Statute comes into force. The Statute will come into force when 60 States have ratified it.
The Statute establishes a permanent International Criminal Court with a mandate to try individuals accused of having committed certain crimes of global concern, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Statute was adopted on 17 July 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference held in Rome from 15 June to 17 July. The adoption of the Statute was hailed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as "a giant step forward in the march towards universal human rights and the rule of law". The Conference also adopted a resolution establishing the Preparatory Commission that is charged with preparing proposals for the implementation of the Statute -- once it is ratified by 60 States -- and for the establishment of the Court.
At its first meeting, to be held from 16 to 26 February at United Nations Headquarters, the Preparatory Commission will take up such issues as the elements of crimes and the rules of procedure and evidence. The Commission was also asked to prepare proposals for a provision on aggression, including the definition and the elements of the crime of aggression and the conditions under which the International Criminal Court shall exercise its jurisdiction with regard to this crime. These issues are critical to the manner in which the Statute will be implemented and for the effective functioning on the International Criminal Court.
Participation in the Preparatory Commission is open to all States, even those which have not yet signed the Statute. Non-governmental organizations may also participate in the plenary and other open meetings of the Commission. The Commission will hold two more meetings during 1999: from 26 July to 13 August and from 29 November to 17 December. These will also be held at United Nations Headquarters.
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