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Statement by Her Excellency Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute on the occasion of “Justice in 2012”

30.04.2012

Today you are going to hear from three speakers for whom horrendous crimes are not pages from a morning newspaper report or scenes from last night's movie enjoyed comfortably on a couch in front of a TV. Unfortunately horrendous crimes do take place now in the 21st century and we have we have witnesses who will tell us about that.

Although we all know that a lot of these crimes do go unpunished, impunity is no more something that the international community accepts.

Just a few days ago, the Special Court of Sierra Leone in the Hague found Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This conviction shows that no one is above the law anymore. Charles Taylor is the first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity since the Nuremberg tribunals took place.

The International Criminal Court that marks its 10th anniversary in July this year has 121 parties to its statute. The Rome Statute is a historic milestone, an attempt to end impunity for the most serious crimes - crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The 121 states parties to the Statute have agreed to prosecute these crimes, the ICC steps in as the court of last resort when States themselves fail to take action. Cases involving non States Parties can also fall under the jurisdiction of the Court but for that a referral by the United Nations Security Council is needed. And this has happened on two occasions.

The International Criminal Court is supposed to replace over time replace all the ad hoc tribunals that have been created by the UN Security Council, and this Court it is collectively and democratically overseen by the States Parties who elect its prosecutor and its judges. One of the very distinct features of the Court is the way it deals with victims. Although not all victims can participate in proceedings, although the court is located far from crime scene in The Hague, although it will never be possible to compensate each and every victim for the suffering and loss, the hope and goal is that the justice delivered in The Hague will impact the affected communities, there will be a distinct feeling that the world has not forgotten about the victims.

With this goal in mind, the States have set up a trust fund for victims that up until now has reached out to almost 80 000 people from affected communities in DRC, Uganda and the Central African Republic. The trust fund is replenished by entirely voluntary contributions.

The court has recently delivered its first verdict finding Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty of recruiting child soldiers. An important part of the judicial proceedings will happen later this year when the Trial Chamber will decide about the reparations to the victims in this case.

The ICC enjoys broad support from States Parties and also from non- States Parties, including the United States, and is right now dealing with seven situations with a number of persons in preliminary detention in The Hague, including former President of Cote d'Ivorie Laurent Gbagbo.

However, around 10 persons against whom the ICC has issued arrest warrants are at large. It is heartening to see broader civil society support to the activities of the Court, awareness raising done by different organizations like the Invisible Children and others. Kony 2012 video received unprecedented attention in the world and is another important sign that atrocities, wherever in the world they may take place, can no more be tolerated. It is important to raise awareness to what is happening and that the activities of the Court are supported more.

I hope that this discussion today will bring us all one step closer to understanding how important it is to continue support for the international criminal justice, the International Criminal Court. The ultimate goal is the preventive effect of the Rome Statute system that will hopefully become a reality during our lifetime.

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