(photo credit: REUTERS)
As it prepares to possibly be thrust back into the middle of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the International Criminal Court on Wednesday
celebrated its 10th anniversary with more than 500 high-level officials in
attendance in The Hague.
The event was attended by Queen Beatrix of the
Netherlands, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, all of the top ICC officials and
“As we embark on the ICC’s second decade, let us celebrate
our achievements and be prepared for the many challenges ahead of us,” ICC
President Judge Sang-Hyun Song said.
Song continued, stating that “we all
have different roles, mandates and backgrounds, but we have the same goal.
Impunity for atrocity crimes must end. Accountability must
prevail. Always and everywhere. To succeed, we must remain determined and
“The ICC is indispensable in the prevention of crimes, the
protection of people and the prosecution of perpetrators,” Dutch Foreign
Minister Frans Timmermans said.
Timmermans also stressed the important
role given to victims before the ICC and stated that “the Dutch government
considers it crucial that victims receive support in building new lives after
the traumas they have experienced.”
The ICC played a major role in legal
battles between Israel and the Palestinians from just after Operation Cast Lead
in January 2009 until April 2012.
The Palestinian Authority tried to
submit criminal cases against individual Israeli soldiers and leaders, but,
after three years of filing legal briefs and debate, was thwarted as ICC
prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Palestine was not yet a state, and only
states could files cases.
With a potential vote in the UN General
Assembly on an upgrade of the Palestinians status in the international body to
that of a non-member statehood only two weeks away, speculation has been rampant
that the PA may try to refile the cases after being dubbed a “state,” thrusting
the ICC back to the forefront of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
now, the ICC has mostly dealt with cases arising from Africa, although it has
undergone preliminary examinations in cases all over the world.
ICC has 121 member states, many of the states where conflict is taking place are
not members and the ICC can only prosecute a case of one of its members, by a
state that at least temporarily accepts the ICC’s jurisdiction or in the rare
instance that a case would be referred to it by the UN Security
The 10th anniversary event took place at the same time as the
11th session of the Assembly of States Parties, the legislative and governing
body of the ICC, which lasts until November 22.
“The ICC changed the
fundamental structure of international relations in a way that few international
organizations have ever done. The 121 States Parties to the Statute have agreed
that no one is above the law and allowed to enjoy impunity if committing
international crimes. The era of impunity is gradually coming to an end,” stated
President of the Assembly of States Parties Tiina Intelmann.
The ICC is
the first permanent, treaty-based international criminal court established with
its stated goal of trying to end impunity for the perpetrators of the most
serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes,
crimes against humanity and genocide.
The ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court, entered into force on July 1, 2002.