Speech of the ICC President to United Nations General Assembly

Justice – ICC/Treaty of Rome
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Speech of the ICC President to United Nations General Assembly
International Criminal Court – Statement 29 October 2018
[Excerpt]
…The theme we chose for that reflection is ‘BACK TO BASICS.’

That theme requires us to return to two basic questions. The FIRST re-engages this query: Why was the Rome Statute adopted? The very preamble of the Rome Statute itself answers that question. The preamble recites the following apposite declarations, amongst others:

:: [The] Conscious[ness] that all peoples are united by common bonds, their cultures pieced together in a shared heritage, and [the] concern[*] that this delicate mosaic may be shattered at any time,

:: [The] Mindful[ness] that during [the 20th ] century [in which the Rome Statute was adopted] millions of children, women and men ha[d] been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity,

:: [The] Recogni[tion] that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world,

:: [The] Determin[ation] to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes, …

The SECOND of the basic questions that the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute compels us to reflect upon is whether our world and civilisation have arrived at the stage where those legislative worries that gave impetus to the negotiation and adoption of the Rome Statute have now become a thing of the past: such that the World no longer needs the Rome Statute and the ICC.

One of the most highly respected African Statesmen of our time answered that question in a very straightforward way. As part of his own reflections during the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute in July, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari answered that question in these words:
‘With the alarming proliferation of the most serious crimes around the world, the ICC, and all that it stands for, is now needed more than ever, in ways that were unforeseeable to its founders. The ICC may have been created at a time of optimism that it would not need to be utilized frequently, but, unfortunately, the increase in international crimes has only increased the Court’s relevance.’

And if any one of those legislative worries that impelled the Court’s creation stands out for a special focus, it is this. During the 20th century, ‘millions of children, women and men ha[d] been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.’ Can we be sure that at the close of the 21st Century, humanity will not be left singing the same sad song – in the absence of the Rome Statute and the ICC remaining in place and supported by all to serve, at least, as a whistle of caution (if not a real obstacle of conscience) to those inclined to commit such crimes?….