November 18, 2016

UN Rights Chief Urges Nations To Stand By ICC And Rome Statute


Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for the international community to stand with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after states have recently begun leaving the institution.

The commissioner urged the international community to remember that there is not yet any alternative in place to ensure the implementation of the Rome Statute or protect citizens from war crimes. He reiterated that various African countries have stood by the court's side in its infancy and many of those same nations are choosing to abide by the statute.

Today's challenges are not the first stern test faced by the court, and they will not be the last. A new trend of isolationist and unprincipled leadership is building up across the world. Renewed attacks on the court may well be in the offing. It will take all the nerve and resources of the truly committed States Parties to resist such challenges. Now is not the time to abandon the post. This is the time for resolve and strength. To hold our international institutions together in the defence of all victims of barbarity is on its own merits necessary enough. To keep this international system intact becomes even more pressing in the face of enormous pressures being heaped on it today—not least for small States who, for their security, need the companionship and protections provided by international law and by this court. Do not betray the victims, nor your own people. Stand by the Rome Statute and the court. It may not be perfect, in design nor operation—like any other institution, or State for that matter. But altogether, it is the best we have.

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement expressing the government's decision to withdraw its signature from the Rome Statute, effectively leaving the ICC. The Justice Minister of South Africa submitted a bill to the parliament seeking withdrawal from the ICC in November. The Gambian government announced that it will be leaving the ICC in October. Burundi's vote to withdrawal from the ICC elicited concern from The Hague in October.

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