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Governments Urged to Make International Justice a Priority

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda shares a laugh with her predecessor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (L) at the ICC, The Hague, Netherlands, June 15, 2012.
An alliance of civil society organizations has called on governments worldwide to make a firm commitment to make international justice a priority.

The Coalition for the ICC said governments should also do more to hold accountable those suspected of committing the gravest crimes.

The appeal comes as the world celebrates International Justice Day Tuesday, July 17. The day is set aside to commemorate the adoption of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

William Pace, convenor of The Coalition for the ICC said the day is important in the fight to end impunity.

“We are celebrating the adoption of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent, independent international criminal court to hold individuals responsible for the worst crimes in international law,” he said.

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Since 1993, the groups said about 200 trials dealing with terrible crimes committed in 12 countries have been held by six international and special tribunals.

Pace said International Justice Day is also an opportunity for the world to celebrate the advances in ending impunity for the world’s worst crimes under international law.

Since its founding, 121 countries have joined the ICC. The coalition urged civil society organizations to review and renew their engagement and commitment towards the ICC by urging countries to join the Court.

"While we have 121 governments, it still leaves 60 plus governments that have not ratified the treaty, so that these crimes could be applied to their leaders, to the rebel groups and others who commit these crimes in their countries,” Pace said.

Pace also urged governments to enact national laws that would make the worst crimes war crimes and crimes against humanity, and for governments to cooperate in their investigation and prosecution of such crimes wherever they are committed.

The Coalition for the ICC cites the conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga as some of the successes of the international justice system.

Pace said African governments have made the most use of the ICC process. He said the Court has not singled out Africans.

“The Court is looking into cases and crimes committed in Palestine, in Georgia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Colombia, in Korea, etc. So, other crimes in other regions are being addressed, and part of the goal of International Justice Day is to make sure that the Court and the governments would move forward so that, wherever these crimes are committee, they will be prosecuted,” Pace said.