Press Releases

    18 July 2002

    "Exciting But Challenging Journey" Lies Ahead, Says Secretary-General on Fourth Anniversary of Adoption of ICC Statute

    NEW YORK, 17 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and celebration of its entry into force, delivered on his behalf in Rome by Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel, Hans Corell:

    The date of 17 July 1998 will long be remembered as the day the world finally united to bring an end to the culture of impunity. The goal that had eluded the international community for decades, and had appeared difficult to attain only the day before, was finally achieved when the Rome Conference formally adopted the Statute of the International Criminal Court and opened it for signature.

    The message from the international community was clear. Never again would it stand aside and let the fabric of humanity be torn asunder by those who commit genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

    Four years on, we have stayed the course. The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002. It will forever be associated with this Eternal City, with its rich culture and ancient history of wisdom and valour.

    By expressing a determination to establish a just legal order for present and future generations, the Statute's entry into force marks a triumph for the rule of law in international relations. It is an affirmation of the enduring validity of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. And it represents the culmination of a united effort in which governments and civil society worked together in the pursuit of the common good. This very gathering -- organized jointly by the Government of Italy and No Peace Without Justice -- is a vivid symbol of that partnership.

    An exciting but challenging journey now lies ahead of us. The International Criminal Court will be operational earlier than many dared to expect. As of today, 76 States have ratified the Rome Statute. The Assembly of States Parties will meet for the first time in September. Soon, the judges, the Prosecutor and staff of the Court will be taking up their positions. It is crucial that the world community continue on this journey until full universality of the Statute is realized; and until all States that need assistance to modify their Constitutions and procedural laws to ensure compatibility with the Rome Statute receive that assistance.

    Our journey is part of a wider quest in search of a peaceful and just world, in which all human beings live in freedom and harmony. We have an individual and collective responsibility to do our utmost to reach that destination. I thank all those who have worked so tirelessly to help get us to where we are today, and add the fervent hope that many more will follow your example as we proceed on the road ahead.

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