A senior official of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) told VOA that, for the first time, participants of a two-week conference beginning Monday in Kampala, will review the Rome Statute.
Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, president of the Assembly of State Parties of the Rome Statute at the ICC, said the review conference constitutes a special meeting of states parties to the ICC - distinct from the annual Assembly of States Parties (ASP) - to consider amendments to the Rome Statute and to take stock of its implementation and impact.
“This is the first time that we as state parties of the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court will look at the statues with the view to possibly changing it. So, this is the first review that is of the Rome Statutes. In this sense, it is a historic moment and it is also a historic moment for the international criminal justice in general. Because we will not only be looking at statutes, we will be looking at the future of international criminal justice as a whole,” Ambassador Wenaweser said.
Amendment proposals to be deliberated upon during the conference include the revision of Article 125 of the Rome Statute, the crime of aggression and the inclusion of the use of certain weapons as war crimes.
Ambassador Wenaweser said it is historic for the first review of the Rome Statute to be hosted in Africa.
“It is very important that the meeting takes place here. It is very important that they are in Africa on the continent where it has been very active. It is very important that we are in Uganda because Uganda is a situation country and it gives us plenty of opportunities to interact with those who are most closely affected, the victims of crimes that we are talking about,” Ambassador Wenaweser said.
According to the ICC, the review conference will also focus on analyzing the success and impact of the Rome Statute system on victims and affected communities, as well as peace and justice.
Ambassador Wenaweser said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will host the summit. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikiwete will be among the other government officials and representatives taking part.
He denied The Hague-based ICC only targets crimes committed in Africa especially with its arrest warrant against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.
“It is important to say here that the court has five investigations ongoing in Africa, three of those were sent to the court by the states themselves. That was the case in the situation of Uganda, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. In (Bashir’s) case…the decision…was made by the Security Council of the United Nations,” he said.
Last year, the Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al Bashir after accusing him of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflict in Darfur – charges his supporters deny.