Justice and the International Criminal Court
June 10, 2010
African Synod Proposition 14: Justice:
“… [T]he fruit of reconciliation between God and humanity, and within the human family itself, is the restoration of justice and the just demands of relationships. This is because God justifies the sinner by overlooking his or her sins, or one justifies an offender by pardoning his or her faults. And because God has justified us by forgiving our sins, so as to reconcile us to himself, we too can work out just relationships and structures among ourselves and in our societies, through pardoning and overlooking peoples’ faults out of love and mercy. How else can we live in community and communion?”
The 2010 ICC Review Conference
Among the great challenges for Africa is to reach a balance between justice and peace – to move beyond violent conflict and war or horrific violations of human rights toward peace that is lasting and deep. In this context, arrest warrants issued in Africa by the International Criminal Court (ICC) have been highly controversial, particularly those for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony of Uganda and of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The ICC Review underway in Kampala, Uganda presents an important opportunity for the world to review the court’s mandate, ensuring that it has the tools to address impunity in a manner that promotes justice, including restorative justice, and is appropriate to the unfolding socio-political reality in a given situation.
The purpose of the current gathering in Kampala is to evaluate the ICC and make it more effective in prosecuting the world’s most horrendous criminals. Attendees are discussing the Court’s past and future, and are proposing changes to the Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, which was adopted in 1998 by 120 countries. The statute came into force in 2002 when its number of national ratifications reached 60. As of 2010, 111 countries have ratified or acceded to the ICC statute.
Nations such as the United States, which participated in the Rome Conference but have not ratified the statute, have the opportunity to take part in the Kampala conference and its preparatory meetings as observers and have their voices heard. Those that have ratified the Rome statute and make up the Court’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), will be able to vote on the proposals.
The following issues are expected to be on the agenda:
- A legal definition of the crime of aggression, and a discussion of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime;
- Stock taking of the ICC’s performance thus far;
- A review of Article 124, which allows nations to postpone ICC jurisdiction over war crimes; and
- An amendment to the Rome Statute proposed by Belgium.
The Review Conference has the potential to dramatically change the ICC. Those who attend as observers and the 111 ASP members will not only determine how the ICC will function in the future, but will also influence the struggle for global human rights.
Citizens for Global Solutions is providing excellent coverage of the Review Conference.
Learn more about the U.S. and the ICC at the website of the American NGO Coalition for the ICC.