NGOs Say Meeting is an Opportunity to Reconfirm Commitment to Justice for the Gravest Crimes
More than 500 NGO representatives will attend the first ever Review Conference of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC), to be held in Kampala (Uganda) from 31 May to 11 June 2010. Kampala is an opportunity for world leaders and the global community to openly recommit to the Rome Statute’s historic initiative to end impunity for the gravest crimes.
In less than 10 days, ICC states parties and observer states, international organizations, NGOs, and other participants will discuss proposed amendments to the Rome Statute - the ICC’s founding treaty - and take stock of its impact to date, making the Review Conference a critical milestone in the evolution of the new system of international justice created twelve years ago.
“Kampala is not only a conference for amendments to the treaty,” said CICC Convenor William Pace. “This historic gathering will also help identify areas in which the Court’s positive impact can be further strengthened.” Debates will focus on the impact of the Rome Statute on victims and affected communities, complementarity, cooperation, and peace and justice, issues truly central to the system’s fair, effective, and independent functioning.
For the Conference to have a greater impact, it requires attendance of the highest levels and participants to recommit to ensure justice for victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, including by making a tangible pledge. The Coalition urged states to use Kampala as an opportunity to publicly commit ratifying the Rome Statute or the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities within the shortest timeframe. States were also called to pledge to pass necessary ICC implementing legislation following the Conference.
One of the key issues at stake will also be the crime of aggression. Although aggression is listed in the Rome treaty as one of the four grave crimes over which the ICC has jurisdiction, agreement must still be reached on its definition, conditions for the ICC to exercise its jurisdiction, and ways to modify the treaty. “The CICC will monitor the discussions on the crime of aggression very closely to ensure that any amendment would protect the integrity of the Rome Statute,” said CICC Convenor William Pace.
Other amendments to be considered by states parties are: (1) the revision of article 124 of the Rome Statute, an optional protocol which allowed states to exclude the court’s jurisdiction over war crimes by its nationals or on its territory for a seven-year period, and (2) the possible inclusion of the use of certain weapons as war crimes in the context of an armed conflict of non-international character or “Belgian proposal”.
Parallel to official panels, the Coalition and its global membership will help create further dialogue on the Rome system and ensure that the voices of civil society are truly heard through a number of debates, roundtables, and parliamentary seminars prior to and during the Conference, both in capitals and alongside the Review Conference.