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Annan urges States to ratify war crimes court's statute, as preparatory panel ends session

Annan urges States to ratify war crimes court's statute, as preparatory panel ends session

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
As the preparatory body laying the groundwork for the world's first permanent war crimes court wrapped up its latest session today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the speedy ratifications of the Rome Statute and expressed hope that the tribunal would be functioning by mid-2003.

"Now with the unusually rapid entry of the Statute into force, we are witnessing a great victory for justice, and for world order - a turn away from the rule of brute force, and towards the rule of law," the Secretary-General said in his statement to the ninth session of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court.

Last week, 10 countries deposited their instruments of ratification with the United Nations, bringing to 66 the total number of approvals, six more than is needed to bring the Rome Statute into force on 1 July.

In his remarks today, Mr. Annan urged the remaining 73 signatories to the Rome Statute to ratify the accord as soon as possible. "Indeed, ultimately all States should become parties to the Statute," he said. "As I said in Rome last week, the best defence against evil will be a Court in which every country plays its part."

Since the treaty was adopted in July 1998 in Rome, the Commission has had the task of negotiating the practical and technical arrangements necessary to allow the Court to function.

At this latest session at UN Headquarters in New York, the Commission was in the last stages of negotiations on the final remaining issues, including a first-year budget for the Court and administrative and financial matters connected to the initial meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, now expected to take place in September in The Hague.

The Commission also dealt with arrangements for the nomination and election procedure for judges, the prosecutor and the registrar, as well as their remuneration; and a trust fund for victims and witnesses. In addition, final details were being worked out concerning the principles that should govern the headquarters agreement with the Host Country of the Court, the Netherlands.