Browse by Region
Updates on Chile
31 Dec 2005
On 30 August 2005, the required constitutional amendment necessary to initiate Chile’s process for ratification of the Rome Statute was scheduled to be discussed at the Constitutional, Legislative and Justice Commission at Congress. However, the matter was not discussed and was postponed. The discussion might take place in a few weeks.
The constitutional amendment has been qualified by the Executive as an urgent matter. Due to the granting of this urgent status, the amendment needs to be discussed within 60 days if the Executive maintains this specific status level. The above mentioned Commission has to first discuss a general approval or rejection on the need to legislate on this matter. If the reform receives a general approval it will pass and enter a more detailed discussion. The proposed amendment suggested by the Executive is very similar to the French one. The amendment has to be approved by a qualified majority.
The Administration remains strongly supportive of the ICC and Chile’s eventual ratification. However, the composition of the Senate is such that ratification seems unlikely. Nonetheless, some efforts are underway by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to implement other humanitarian and human rights treaties. Additionally, a senator has submitted a bill incorporating some crimes under international law into national law.
On 15 June 2005, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignacio Walker met with the ICC President Philippe Kirsch in The Hague, to discuss the current status of the Rome Statute ratification. Chancellor Walker annouced that he will soon meet with the Commission of Foreign Affairs from the Senate to request the discussion and approval of that treaty.
Chancellor Walker remarked (Note: Unofficial translation): "It is not 'nice' that our country has not yet ratified the Rome Statute that creates the International Criminal Court, that sanctions extreme crimes, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, considering that human rights are a priority for Chilean foreign policy and for our government. We should have been in the top ten and now we can be in the top one hundred, so I hope the Parliament ratifies this year the treaty that has been signed by the Chilean government."
News reports indicate that President Ricardo Lagos has recommended ratification of the Rome Statute, as part of his recent human rights proposal presented in August 2003.
At the 6th Committee of the 57th UN General Assembly (14 October 2002), the delegate from Chile announced the government's intention to promptly ratify the Rome Statute, and indicated that the ratification bill is currently pending approval of the Senate.
On 22 January 2002, the Chilean Chamber of Deputies (Camara de Diputados) approved the bill of ratification by a vote of 67 in favor and 37 against, meeting the necessary quorum for its approval. The bill was then sent to the Senate. In March 2002, a group of 34 deputies asked the Constitutional Court to declare the unconstitutionality of the Statute. According to the deputies who oppose ratification, constitutional reforms and special laws must be enacted in order to ratify. Advocates of the Court within the Government urge the Senate to resume discussions after the Constitutional Court has concluded its review.
The constitutionality of the Rome Statute was not unanimously agreed in an early consultation by the Presidency of the Republic with the Supreme Court; a majority opinion resulted in favor of its constitutionality, with a dissenting minority arguing that it is unconstitutional and some judges abstaining. If rejected in the Senate, the Treaty could be re-submitted after a year.
In July 2001, the ratification bill was approved by the Constitutional, Legislative, and Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. In the same year, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Minister Hernan Alvarez, expressed his support for the ICC during his official visit to Spain. Also, the Chilean Congress hosted a Parlatino Meeting in June 2000, at which participants expressed their support for the prompt establishment of the ICC.
Early in 2000, President Ricardo Lagos Escobar and the Foreign Affairs Minister reaffirmed their support for the ICC, and declared that one of Chile's main objectives in foreign policy is to have a leading role in the protection of human rights and the prompt creation of the International Criminal Court.
Former President Frei had sent the Rome Statute to Congress for consideration in early 1999.
In order to obtain Chile's prompt ratification, NGOs in Chile planned to launch a campaign similar to that begun by the Mexican Coalition for the ICC, with the slogan: "If the Chilean Congress doesn't ratify, the Chileans will do it."