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ICC and ASP Presidents conclude visits to Slovenia, Croatia and Switzerland

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On 15 May 2014, the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Sang-Hyun Song, and the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute, H.E. Ms. Tiina Intelmann, spoke at a Seminar on the Kampala Amendments held in Brdo, Slovenia, with a special focus on the crime of aggression.

President Song said that “the advent of the ICC and the broader Rome Statute system has changed the way the world thinks – and increasingly also, acts – in relation to grave international crimes”. In her panel intervention, President Intelmann stressed her belief that States should consider ratifying both of the Kampala Amendments as soon as possible: “the Kampala Amendments are a fundamental tool to support the establishment a rules-based international order, where law prevails over force.”

Speaking later at a press conference, President Song stated that while only the States Parties can collectively activate the ICC’s ability to exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, there were strong arguments for doing so sooner rather than later. “First of all, armed conflicts have an immensely destructive effect on the lives of thousands of people and indeed entire nations. War is the ultimate tragedy that any society can encounter. Secondly, aggression is not only a grave crime in its own right but often leads to other atrocity crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction, such as war crimes and the crimes against humanity. Finally, as it is well recognized, the crime of aggression poses the most severe threat to international peace and security. Aggressive war anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere”, summarised President Song.

While in Slovenia, President Song met H.E. Mr Karl Erjavec, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, and thanked him for Slovenia’s strong support to the ICC, including through Slovenia’s valuable contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims and the recent ratification of the Kampala. Minister Erjavec pledged Slovenia’s continued support to the ICC. President Intelmann met with Slovenia’s State Secretary, H.E. Mr Bogdan Benko on means to promote universality in the region. She also used the opportunity of the wide participation from the Eastern European Region to meet with representatives from Armenia, with whom she discussed the prospects of a forthcoming ratification of the Rome Statute. President Song further delivered a university lecture at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he received an honorary medal.

On Friday 16 May 2014, President Song travelled to Zagreb, Croatia, to meet H.E. Ms Vesna Pusić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and H.E. Mr Orsat Miljenić, Minister of Justice. Croatia was the first country from South-East Europe to ratify the Rome Statute and has already ratified the Kampala amendments. Judge Song conveyed the ICC’s gratitude for Croatia’s longstanding support, while Minister Pusić and Minister Miljenić expressed Croatia’s willingness to further strengthen the excellent cooperation with the ICC. The same day, President Song spoke at the University of Zagreb on the ICC’s contribution to international justice. In his lecture, he touched upon institutional and jurisdictional differences between the ICC and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and expressed his personal regret that in 1991, when the war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, there was no international criminal tribunal already in place to deter the commission of atrocity crimes. “With a permanent ICC, the promise of a less violent world is more realistic”, concluded President Song.

On her part, on 16 May 2014, President Intelmann travelled to Geneva to address the “Group of Friends of the International Criminal Court”. She provided an update on the work ahead for the Assembly in 2014 and the ongoing priorities and needs of the Court. She welcomed the commitment and coordination among States Parties in Geneva who have taken advantage of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism to further the goals of the Court, including universality, domestic implementation of the Rome Statute, ratification of or accession to the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC and the Kampala Amendments, and cooperation with the Court. President Intelmann discussed with States Parties various means to take the next step and promote the implementation of the numerous ICC-related recommendations accepted by States under review at the UPR.

In Geneva also, at the Academy of International Humanitarian Law, President Intelmann joined a technical seminar on a project of a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity. At this discussion, Ambassador Intelmann highlighted the fundamental role played by domestic legislation to prosecute crimes against humanity and of the legal gap of mechanisms that promote mutual legal assistance among states to support domestic prosecutions.

During their visits, President Song and President Intelmann gave several interviews to the media and met a number of seminar participants from other States of the Eastern European Group, both States Parties and those not yet party to the Rome Statute, urging the latter the join the evolving system of international criminal justice.

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