Press conference in Rome held by the Coalition for an ICC, July 1998. Credit: CICC.
Ten years ago today, the world took a historic step from impunity toward accountability by creating the International Criminal Court. On July 17, 1998 in Rome Italy, 120 governments of the world signed into being the Rome Treaty on the International Criminal Court, "one of the most important advances in international law and human rights since the adoption of the UN Charter in 1948" according to my old boss Bill Pace of the Coalition for the ICC.The International Criminal Court is a permanent human rights tribunal based in the Hague, Netherlands, whose mission is to hold accountable those who commit the worst offenses of justice in the world, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
I was privileged enough to be there in Rome for the treaty conference, at the time serving as the communications coordinator for the Coalition for an ICC. I was responsible for the communications going into and out of the conference to our hundreds of allied organizations and activists around the world, including writing a daily newsletter and email blast to our constituents. It was perhaps the most important thing that I have ever done in my 20 year career as an activist organizer.
Today the ICC is doing remarkable things and having a broader impact around the world that we may not even be able to assess in this generation. Notably:
- This week, the ICC prosecutor applied for the indictment of Sudanese President Sudan Omar al-Bashir on genocide charges — the first arrest warrant against a sitting head of state.
- Last week, former Congolese Vice President and rebel leader Jean.jpgerre Bemba Gombo was arrested in Belgium and transferred to The Hague in the first arrest issued for the investigation into human rights violations in the Central African Republic.
- The ICC is also proceeding with prosecutions against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Congolese warlords Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui.
- The prosecutor is looking into situations in other regions, including Afghanistan and Colombia.
- With the addition of Suriname earlier this week, the number of countries who have ratified the treaty is at 107!
These are amazing times. I’m so proud to have been able to have been able to play some small part in getting us to this point.
Visit the Coalition website for more on this significant achievement.