For information only - not an official document.
3 January 2001


Following is the text of a statement issued today by the
Office of the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

NEW YORK, 2 Januiary (UN Headquarters) -- The Secretary-General is greatly encouraged by the fact that so many States took the decision to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court before the 31 December 2000 deadline. He considers this a promising demonstration of the breadth of support for this new international institution, which can help to end the culture of impunity and make the twenty-first century qualitatively different from the twentieth.

The governments that have made this enlightened move clearly understand that the Court represents no threat to States with an organized criminal justice system. On the contrary, it is designed only to protect those most vulnerable people whose own government, if they have one, is unable or unwilling to prosecute those who violate their most fundamental human rights.

The Secretary-General also welcomes the recent positive developments in the Preparatory Commission, and in particular the fact that it was able to complete the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and the Elements of Crimes, by 30 June 2000. He knows that, in addition to the 27 States that have already ratified the Statute, many more are now in the process of doing so. He hopes that as many States as possible will ratify, and looks forward to the minimum of 60 ratifications being reached very soon, so that the Court can begin to function.

The Secretary-General wishes to express his particular satisfaction at the signature of the Statute by the United States of America. He is well aware of the difficulties that the President of the United States faced in reaching this decision, and warmly congratulates him on his courage and far-sightedness in overcoming them.

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