Hague’s criminal court celebrates 10th anniversary

ICC celebrates milestone amid possible Israeli-Palestinian legal conflict following potential PA status upgrade.

ICC 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
ICC 370
(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 many others.
“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 unite.”
“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.
Until now, the ICC has mostly dealt with cases arising from Africa, although it has undergone preliminary examinations in cases all over the world.
While the 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 Council.
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.