AIPR Commemorates International Criminal Justice Day

Friday, July 17, marks the 17th anniversary of the international community’s adoption of the Rome Statute. Since the treaty’s initial acceptance in 1988, 123 states have ratified or acceded to the Statute, which entered into force in July of 2002. The Statute formed the basis for the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s first international judicial body dedicated to enforcing individual accountability in grave criminal matters. Acknowledging the essential nature of the ICC’s work in preventing genocide and other serious transgressions, AIPR joins with the United Nations in recognizing July 17th as International Criminal Justice Day.

As the first permanent and treaty-based international court operating in collaboration with the international community, the ICC works to end impunity for perpetrators of momentous crimes violating international law. The Court, which exists as a mechanism “of last resort”, has a mandate to investigate, try, and charge individuals suspected of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the event that the states party to the Rome Statute are either “unable” or “unwilling” to do so. Since its inception, the ICC has publicly indicted 36 individuals through 9 official investigations.

Sang-Hyun Song, who served as President of the ICC from 2009 to 2015, explains:

International criminal justice is not owned by any one culture, nor driven by any one people. It is an ideal which is intensely human; it is why the International Criminal Court has been embraced across all the world’s continents.

In delivering his remarks for last year’s International Criminal Justice Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon explained that the ICC functions as “the centerpiece of our system of international criminal justice.” He also expressed his appreciation for the continued working relationship shared by the UN and the ICC and offered that the observation of International Criminal Justice Day creates an opportunity “for all of us to underscore a crucial point: justice matters”.

AIPR applauds the signatory states of the Rome Statue and those supporting the work of the ICC. By creating avenues for justice, accountability, and the promotion of the rule of law, apparatuses like the ICC are critical to the prevention of future genocide and mass atrocities.