International Criminal Court Statute Comes into Force. (Breaking News)

Article excerpt

"Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people." So reads the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which two years ago was reprinted in booklet form as a children's "Human Rights Passport" and whose spirit and content informs the May Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on children's issues--issues vital to "the succeeding generations" of which the United Nations Charter itself speaks. And on 11 April, just weeks before the session was to begin, a critical international treaty designed to prevent or penalize the essential criminality of such "barbarous acts" came into force.

The historic occasion of the deposit of the necessary sixty ratifications relating to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was marked by a treaty event in a solemn setting at United Nations Headquarters. As we go to press, 66 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification and 139 have signed it. The treaty was to enter into force on the first day of the month after the sixtieth day following the date of the deposit of the sixtieth instrument of ratification. Accordingly, the Statute's entry into force is 1 July 2002, and the first meeting of the parties to the Statute will take place in September 2002. The ICC is expected to be established in 2003.

The Court will possess the jurisdiction to deal with crimes, such as genocide, war crimes, crime of aggression and crimes against humanity. It is hoped that the ICC will help to end the impunity with which individuals violate the established norms against these crimes, remedy the deficiencies of ad hoc tribunals, and provide the legal forum when national criminal justice institutions are unwilling--or, for that matter, unable to act. …


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