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Germany Hosts ICC’s 10th Anniversary Conference

  • Peter Clottey

Bettina Ambach is co-organizer of the ICC conference scheduled to be held in Nuremberg, Germany

Bettina Ambach is co-organizer of the ICC conference scheduled to be held in Nuremberg, Germany

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is marking its 10th anniversary in Nuremberg, Germany, with a two-day international conference on the Hague-based court.

Organized by the German Foreign Ministry, the theme of the conference is, "Through the Lens of Nuremberg: The International Criminal Court at its 10th Anniversary."

Bettina Ambach, co-organizer of the conference says it will include discussions addressing accusations that the Hague-based court has sometimes unfairly targeted African nations.

"We will ask the question to what extent the legacy of Nuremberg has been implemented in the international court, which exists today?" Ambach said, referring to the war crimes trials for captured Nazi officials that took place in Nuremberg after World War II.

“We will discuss achievements of the International Criminal Court and also look at the challenges, internally and externally the court still faces, and we will ask the question, what should be the road for the next 10 years?” she asked.

Ambach said speakers at the summit include experts on the Nuremberg trials, representatives from the ICC and other international courts and tribunals, the African Union and Arab League, renowned international criminal law experts, government and civil society.

She said the conference will mark the progress made in the development of international criminal law in the more than six decades since the Nuremberg trials. Special attention will be focused on the period since 1993, when the idea of an international criminal justice system gained new momentum through the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Ambach said that in recent years, “Africa has been at the forefront of developments in international criminal justice." In particular, she cited the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and the African Union’s Constitutive Act as measures Africa has taken to deal with human right abuses.

“These are important institutions expressing support to ending impunity for those responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, the big international crimes,” said Ambach.

So far 33 African countries have ratified the Rome Statutes that established the ICC.

But, some have said the ICC has often targeted mostly Africans. One example sometimes cited was the court’s arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur - charges the Sudan government sharply rejected.

“We will address this issue of does [Bashir] have immunity and what happens if he travels to states, which don’t belong to the International Criminal Court? Do they have to arrest him? What happens when he travels to member states, which he has done recently and nothing has happened," Ambach asked.

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