Today, 17 July, the world celebrates International Justice Day, a commemoration of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a celebration of the achievements of international criminal justice. On this occasion, the Coalition for the ICC call on all governments to make a firm commitment to make international justice a priority and seek to hold accountable those who are suspected of committed the gravest crimes.
“The journey from Nuremberg to ‘Never Again’ has proven to be extremely difficult and may still take decades to complete, but the progress of the last 14 years has been phenomenal,” said William R. Pace, convenor of the Coalition for the ICC. “The tools for ending impunity exist for perhaps the first time in history; it is now a matter of galvanizing universal political will to make them fully operational.”
International Justice Day is also an opportunity for the world community to celebrate the historic advances in ending impunity for the worst crimes in international law. Since 1993, around 200 trials dealing with terrible crimes committed in 12 countries have been held by six international and special tribunals. Similar trials are ongoing at the national level.
At the ICC, three trials are being conducted, investigations in seven countries have been opened, and 22 public arrest warrants and at least nine summonses have been issued. Allegations of crimes committed in many other countries are also being considered by the office of the ICC Prosecutor. This past year witnessed the Special Court for Sierra Leone convict former Liberian president Charles Taylor for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity—the first conviction of a head of state since Nuremberg—as well as the first verdict in an ICC case, the conviction of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate in hostilities.