Coalition for the International Criminal Court

International Justice Day (IJD) marks the historic adoption of the Rome Statute on 17 July 1998 by an overwhelming majority of countries and the subsequent establishment of the world's only permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold individuals accountable for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

Significant progress has been made in the fight against impunity since the Rome Statute entered into force 17 years ago. International Justice Day serves as a reminder to the 122 states parties and civil society alike of their commitments to the ICC and the Rome Statute system (RSS), amplifies calls for universal ratification of the Statute, and bolsters support for other tools and mechanisms of international justice which make up the RSS. 

In light of recent developments and decisions which have come out of the Court in the first half of 2019, not to mention external factors impacting the successful execution of its mandate, the ICC has been under immense scrutiny from both its supporters and its opponents. Despite this, the Court today remains the cornerstone of the system of international justice conceived in Rome, and members of the Coalition are doing their part to ensure this remains the case as the ICC enters its second decade of existence.

Across the globe, our members are championing the end of impunity, using a diverse set of tools: linking the work of the Court to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 and the 2030 Agenda; calling for a holistic review of the Court's performance in an effort to make it a more fair and effective institution; and pushing back against the dangerous spread of misinformation by factually informing the public narratives about the ICC.

On this International Justice Day, civil society comes  together to remind everyone that despite the challenges in its way, it is our responsibility to ensure the effective delivery of justice and redress for victims of the gravest crimes.

Kirsten Meersschaert, Director of Programs, Coalition for the International Criminal Court

"In a geopolitical climate where states are retreating from multilateral initiatives and increasingly tending towards nationalism, it is all the more crucial to ensure that civilian populations do not fall victim to international crimes. Accountability is an important component of preventing violent conflict and is the only way to provide true redress to victims. States, the ICC, civil society, and people the world over must each do their part to ensure that the international justice system created by the Rome Statute 21 years ago lives up to its promise and ends the far too long-lasting history of impunity."

Statements on International Justice Day from Coalition Members around the Globe:

Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch

"On this year’s anniversary, the International Criminal Court is facing both its own acute performance shortcomings and unprecedented threats from the Trump Administration. In today’s difficult justice landscape, and amid the increasing importance of Sustainable Development Goal 16 during this week’s High-Level Political Forum in New York, the need for an effective court is greater than its founders ever imagined 21 years ago. Court officials, ICC member states and civil society activists need to meet those challenges head-on through strengthening ICC practice and providing much more robust member state support."

Mariana Pena, Senior Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

"International Justice Day reminds us how much work remains to be done to turn the promise of the Rome Statute into a reality. The Open Society Justice Initiative believes that work should include urgent reforms to the electoral process for the court’s judges and prosecutor. Six new judges will be elected in 2020, but the current system does not guarantee the election of the most qualified candidates. Political trade-offs and nominations of candidates that are close to governments are all-too-common practices. It is time for fully transparent nomination processes, for a more thorough assessment of all candidates, and for voting on the basis of merit alone. States must ensure the election of judges that uphold the principles of independence and impartiality."

Chantal Meloni, Legal Advisor for International Crimes and Accountability program, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

"In these fraught times, the International Criminal Court is navigating in extremely difficult waters. It is important to remember that the struggle for justice and accountability has never been an easy one. Respect for human rights and the delivery of justice have always been the result of strong, fearless, tireless battles. Justice is the achievement of people that were able to speak truth to power. The establishment of the International Criminal Court was a huge achievement for the international community, not least because it affirmed that no one is above the law. It is time for the ICC to be strong, fearless and resilient. It is time for the ICC to speak truth to power and give effect to the fundamental principle that no one should enjoy impunity. Survivors and civil society organizations will continue to be tenacious in their fight for justice."

Aurora Corazon A. Parong, Co-Chairperson, Philippine national coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC)

"In various parts of the world today, justice remains elusive for peoples in their own countries. In Asia, crimes against humanity and other grave violations of international humanitarian law are shattering lives of families including women and children. It is now four months since our country, the Philippines, withdrew from the International Criminal Court (ICC). We are still hoping that the cases brought to the court will find a due course at its halls of justice. Considering the pervasive impunity around us, more States must join the ICC to provide a venue for people to seek accountability when their governments fail them. Peoples must not be deprived access to a court of last resort."

Oleksandra Matviychuk, Chair of the Board, Center for Civil Liberties, Ukraine

"Today we should speak about millions of people who became victims of war crimes all over the world as well as about the responsibilities we have when it comes to those people. Have we - the citizens of the democratic countries - done everything in our power to stop these horrible acts and to bring the day of justice closer?"

Nadia Volkova, Director, Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group (ULAG)

"Conflict in Ukraine has been tarnishing the country for five years now. Despite all the trials and tribulations, it has survived so far but the conflict is still ongoing. We believe that justice plays a vital role in the ability of the country to end the conflict. Only by standing together with those states who actively oppose violence and aggression by adhering to the international legal standards does Ukraine have a real chance at not only surviving but at making peace and moving on from everything that has happened to Ukraine as a country and Ukraine as a nation over the past five years. It is, for this reason, it is imperative that Ukraine ratifies the Rome Statute and really shows its true intention to fight for its freedom, independence, integrity and prosperity."

Nino Tsagareishvili, Co-director of Human Rights Center (HRIDC)/Chair of the Georgian national coalition for the International Criminal Court

"As we mark July 17, International Criminal Justice Day, we should remember the grave problems that victims of the most serious crimes are experiencing all over the world. While waiting for justice to be served, victims are continuing to suffer from the consequences of atrocities committed against them. International justice mechanisms fail to adequately address the ongoing consequences of past crimes. More actions are needed from the states and international organizations to elevate the continuous suffering of the victims, before concrete results are reached by the international justice mechanisms that sometimes take too long."

Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)

"En México, no confiamos en nuestro sistema de justicia, la impunidad es crónica y generalizada, y no existe una política integral para investigar, sancionar y reparar a las miles de víctimas en México de violaciones graves a derechos humanos y crímenes atroces.
Es por ello, que instancias jurisdiccionales internacionales, como la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI), representa el único tribunal de justicia internacional que se ha convertido para muchas víctimas  en nuestro país como la única alternativa viable para juzgar a los responsables de crímenes atroces cuando el Estado mexicano fracasa con sus obligaciones internacionales de proteger y reparar a las víctimas, y castigar y prevenir estos crímenes.
De este modo, la justicia internacional es la única alternativa que tenemos para construir una verdad real que permita dignificar a las víctimas, perseguir penalmente a los perpetradores y reparar integralmente a las miles de víctimas de crímenes atroces en nuestro país."

English Translation: "In Mexico, we lack confidence in our judicial system. Impunity is chronic and generalized, and there is no integral policy to investigate, punish, and provide reparations to thousands of victims of grave human rights violations and mass atrocities in Mexico.
For this reason, international justice mechanisms like the International Criminal Court (ICC), represent the only legal remedy for many victims in our country, and the only viable alternative to bring perpetrators of mass atrocities to justice, given Mexico’s failure to abide by its international obligations to protect and provide reparations to victims, punish these heinous crimes, and prevent them in the first place. Therefore, international justice is the only alternative left to seek the truth, a truth which can dignify victims, criminally punish the perpetrators, and provide integral reparations to thousands of victims of these heinous crimes committed in our country."

Nika Jeiranashvili, Executive Director, Justice International

"Throughout the last decade, many victims passed away in Georgia. Thousands of displaced people are living in dire conditions, and civilians across the administrative border line are living in fear due to regular kidnappings and deterioration of the security situation. In these circumstances, the Trust Fund’s early engagement is particularly important as most people do not anticipate the investigation to move to the trial stage due to the non-cooperation of the Russian Federation. This feeling was amplified after the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber’s recent decision rejecting the OTP’s request to open an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan. In the eyes of sceptics, this decision has confirmed the suspicion that the Court will not be able to pursue perpetrators from powerful states.
The Trust Fund’s assistance mandate allows earlier engagement with victims even in the absence of a decision on guilt. Physical and psychological rehabilitation and material support, such as offering access to income generation and training opportunities, is what the victims need most. As such, the Trust Fund’s announcement in last September of initiating an assessment of the victims’ needs, to be followed by specific assistance projects, gave many victims a hope that the process could still be meaningful for them."

Melinda Reed, Executive Director, Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice

"International justice plays a central role in the fight against impunity for sexual violence. It is only by acknowledging the massive perpetration of sexual violence in conflict as a tool of war that we will be able to properly respond to it and hope to put an end to these atrocious crimes. The best way to do so is by understanding what sexual violence really is and by adopting a survivor-centred and comprehensive approach to the issue."

Mike Gesa Munabi, Founder & Chief Advisor, Students for Global Democracy Uganda

"In commemoration of the International Justice Day 2019, Students for Global Democracy Uganda as a member of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, we continue to pledge our commitment and mandate to popularize the role and relevance of the International Criminal Court among the public to counter and defeat misinformation, misrepresentation and misunderstanding against the ICC in Uganda and Africa, this will help to raise a generation of young people who will respect the principles of international justice."

Soledad Buendía, Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Chairwoman of Parliamentarians for Global Action's National Group in Ecuador

"The solution to the current lack of trust in international institutions and the ability of the international community to resolve global pressing issues is not to walk away from multilateralism. It is to come closer. Despite the wide range of characteristics that differentiate us, humankind shares the same inalienable responsibility: not to turn a blind eye on the most serious crimes that shock our consciousness. That should unite us! What is the role of parliamentarians in the pursuit of international justice? Build a bridge between the international community and the national constituents. How? By ensuring that the international commitments for the benefits of all peoples are translated domestically and socialized as a means towards a better world. One free of impunity."