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International Criminal Court: Call for Nations to Join ICC

(June 2, 2010) On May 28, 2010, three days before the opening in Kampala, Uganda, of the first review conference on the International Criminal Court (ICC), United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on the need for the world's nations to join the Court. Referring to the ICC's mission of bringing those who commit genocide, war crimes, or other crimes against humanity to justice, Ban stated that to succeed, the ICC “must have universal support.” He added that he called “on all nations to join” and that states “that already have done so must cooperate fully with the court. That includes backing it publicly, as well as faithfully executing its orders.” (Ban Calls on Dozens of Hold-Out States to Join International Criminal Court, UN NEWS, May 28, 2010, email transmission from [email protected].)

While 111 countries have joined the ICC by signing and ratifying the Rome Statute (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Rome Statute website, (last visited June 1, 2010)), there are 37 that have signed but not ratified it. Among the nations that have not yet joined are China, India, Russia, and the United States. (UN NEWS, supra.)

The ICC has started five investigations since its founding; there are two trials currently in progress and a third is scheduled to begin next month. Four detainees are being held, but suspects in three of the five investigations are still at large. (Id.)

Cooperation with the ICC has sometimes been problematic. Prominent among the suspects being sought by the Court are three men wanted in connection with murders of civilians, rapes, persecution, forcible transfers, imprisonments, and attacks launched deliberately against civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. Arrest warrants for the former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmad Harun, and for alleged militia leader Ali Kushayb were issued three years ago; the ICC has criticized Sudan's government for not cooperating in the attempts to detain these men. In addition, the ICC issued a third warrant, to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in March 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Id.)

Speaking in Kampala, Ban stressed the importance of the ICC as a step forward in human history. “In this new age of accountability, those who commit the worst of human crimes – be they rank-and-file foot soldiers or top political leaders – “will be held responsible,” he said. (At ICC Review Conference, Ban Declares End to “Era of Impunity,” UN NEWS CENTRE, May 31, 2010, available at
.) Ban went on to address the potential conflict between bringing perpetrators to account for their crimes and resolving conflicts, stating, “[y]es, it may be true: demanding criminal accountability, at the wrong time, can discourage warring parties from sitting down at the negotiating table … . Even so, one thing is clear: the time has passed when we might speak of peace versus justice, or think of them as somehow opposed to each other.” (Id.)