Laos: Show leadership in ASEAN by joining ICC

Global civil society is this month calling on Laos to accede to Rome Statute to end impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Add your voice to our petition urging President Sayasone to join the fight for global justice now.

Lao PDR’s ASEAN Chairmanship comes at a crucial time for the regional bloc as it begins to implement the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 blueprint. Lao PDR must seize this remarkable opportunity to demonstrate responsible and effective leadership by placing peace, stability, and the security of its population at the core of its chairmanship by signing the Rome Statute.


Lao PDR is the focus of the Coalition’s Campaign for Global Justice this month. The long-running campaign calls on countries around the world to join the ICC and adopt national laws to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

“Lao PDR must not forget that at the heart of the ASEAN community building process and regional integration efforts is the security of the populations of its 10 member states from the most egregious crimes,” said Amielle Del Rosario, Asia-Pacific coordinator with the Coalition for the ICC. “Lao PDR’s ASEAN chairmanship priorities primarily focus on increasing the economic competitiveness of ASEAN. But it must not be forgotten that a nation’s leverage and viability on the regional, international sphere is directly tied to the strength of its domestic framework to protect its borders from mass atrocities and to manage conflicts.”

As the ASEAN Chairman, Lao PDR will be responsible for steering important negotiations among the 10 member states in the Southeast Asia region, and respond to various challenges effectively in order to advance and strengthen the regional bloc’s influence on the global stage.

Lao PDR’s priorities focus on strengthening ASEAN’s economic clout, but as the region increasingly asserts its influence on the global stage in economic and political terms it lags far behind on establishing mechanisms that protect populations from the onset of mass atrocities.

While a number of ASEAN member states remain open to the prospect of ICC ratification, to date, only 2 out of the 10 ASEAN member states –Cambodia and the Philippines –have joined the ICC.


This week, we sent a letter to President Choummaly Sayasone and Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, raising the significant opportunity Lao PDR has to demonstrate its ability to fulfill its responsibilities as laid out in the ASEAN Vision 2025 by taking earnest steps towards the protection and security of its population against the most egregious crimes by signing the Rome Statute.

For more than a decade, Lao PDR has repeatedly indicated its support for the principles enshrined in the Rome Statute saying that ratification is in line with the Government’s policies, but falls short in ratifying, citing the need to first ensure domestic processes are fully prepared for implementation.

Given rising concerns of crisis and violence spilling over into borders, as well as other non-traditional security threats, local civil society believes that joining the Rome Statute is a necessary safeguard against threats that could destabilize the region.

Civil society remains prepared to help advance Lao PDR advance its progress towards ratification as it has done in the past, collaborating with authorities on capacity-building and awareness-raising workshops in various provinces in Lao PDR, the publication and translation of key ICC documents in the national language, and other activities that date back since 2001.

More than a decade later and on the important occasion of its ASEAN chairmanship, there is no better time than now for Lao PDR to signal to its regional neighbours and the international community that economic growth does not trump the protection of its population and territorial integrity against the worst crimes.