10 November 2005

Deputy Secretary-General Congratulates Member States on Milestone of 100th Ratification of Rome Statute of International Criminal Court

NEW YORK, 9 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks delivered by UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette on 8 November at a reception at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Penthouse on the occasion of the 100th ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:

Six years ago, almost to the day, I expressed, at a gathering of justice ministers, our collective hope that we would soon have a permanent court to address the most grievous crimes against humanity.  At that time -- nearly 18 months after the adoption of the Rome Statute -- only four countries had ratified it.  Today the Statute has been in force for more than three years, and we have gathered now to celebrate the milestone of its 100th ratification.

This is by no means the only development that has made 2005 a historic year for the ICC, especially in its relationship with the United Nations.  Cooperation between the two organizations increased significantly as a result of the entry into force late last year of a Relationship Agreement.  Earlier today, for the first time, Judge Philippe Kirsch, as President of the Court, presented a report on the ICC's activities to the General Assembly.  And in June, following referral by the Security Council, the ICC's Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, opened an investigation into the situation in Darfur in the Sudan.

The Court has clearly come far in a relatively short time.  Last month it issued its first indictments against senior leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Uganda since July 2002.  The Court has also opened investigations into alleged crimes in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, of course, Darfur.  No doubt more investigations, and prosecutions, will follow.  But the Court's most important achievement may well remain unsung, since it will be the investigations and indictments that are not needed, because the crimes in question have been deterred by the increasing likelihood that those who commit them would be called to account.

Far too often in the past the gravest crimes, and those who committed them, have gone unpunished.  The ICC, with its mandate to bring the authors of atrocities to justice, puts would-be criminals on notice that we, the international community, have resolved to be passive no longer.  Impunity, for too long a pernicious enemy of the rule of law, will no longer be the norm.

With 100 ratifications, a clear majority of UN Member States are now States parties to the Rome Statute.  I congratulate you all on reaching today's milestone -- and I urge all Member States that have not yet done so to ratify the Statute as soon as possible.

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