ICC Rome Statute Turns 25

#NGOVoices Are at the Heart of the Rome Statute System


2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the centre of the international justice system, or Rome Statute system. The ICC Rome Statute was adopted on 17 July 1998 by a conference of 160 States in Rome, Italy. This treaty established the ICC, in 2002, the first permanent and independent international court with the mandate to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the “most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole” serious international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) led the civil society efforts campaigning for the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998 and the shaping of the Court’s mandate.   After the Rome Statute was adopted, and the first state, Senegal, ratified the treaty in February 1999, the Coalition campaigned for the worldwide ratification of the treaty.

Today, Civil society continues to strongly support and advocate for a fair and independent ICC, and robust Rome Statute system with the principle of complementarity at its centre.  In 2020, the Independent Experts appointed to Review the ICC and the Rome Statute system  concluded that civil society organisations are a “force multiplier for the Court in promoting and carrying out its work.”

As we commemorate 25 years of the ICC Statute, the Coalition calls on States Parties to set the standards for a new era of accountability, and to revisit the Court’s long-term needs:

  • Support and Protect Human Rights Defenders who work to end impunity and support the ICC: Recalling that 2023 also marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, States Parties and the ICC should recognize the key role of civil society in the Rome Statute system and strongly and consistently defend to the criminalisation, threats, and attacks against Human Rights Defenders who are at the frontline of justice efforts.
  • Consistent and sustained support for all situations under the jurisdiction of the ICC, backed by concrete commitments: States Parties should provide the institution sustainable and secure resources across all its organs and programs in its regular budget, so it may deliver justice in all situations that come before it. This will further safeguard the ICC’s independence and legitimacy, and avoid of politicization and selectivity, or inappropriate bias, in the Court’s work.
  • Universality of the Rome Statute: highlight the importance of the universality of the Rome Statute, and call on all States to ratify the Rome Statute to expand the Court’s reach and reduce the impunity gap. Promote the central principle of complementarity whereby states bear the primary responsibility to prosecute Rome Statute crimes, including by adopting the necessary laws to integrate Rome Statute provisions domestically.
  • Elect the best ICC and ASP leaders: commit to electing exceptional ICC and ASP officials, through fair, transparent, and merit-based elections, to safeguard high quality prosecutorial and judicial decisions and increase trust in the institution’s ability to deliver justice. In particular, States Parties must apply rigorous national nomination procedures of judicial candidates and adopt a purpose-built permanent vetting process for all ICC and ASP elections to ensure high moral character as required by the Rome Statute.

To commemorate the Rome Statute’s 25th anniversary, we have asked Coalition members to share their expectations of the Court and of the broader Rome Statute system #NGOVoices. See and listen to them:






Date Organizer Event Information
12 July 2023 Assemby of States Parties Opening of the exhibit “Life After Conflict” in the Hague, Netherlands on 12 July 2023 at 17:00
14 July 2023 International Center for MultiGenerational Legacies of Trauma The impact of the Rome Statute of the ICC on victims’ rights: A vision for the next 25 years
17 July 2023 Assemby of States Parties Commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute at the United Nations (New York)
17- 21 July Center for Civil Liberties Ukrainian International criminal justice week
6-7 October 2023 University of Vienna Vienna Conference on Amendments
12-13 October Assemby of States Parties Commemoration event at Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights


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