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UN expert stresses need for impartial judges on International Criminal Court

UN expert stresses need for impartial judges on International Criminal Court

On the eve of the formal creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) - the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal - a United Nations expert today stressed the need to select unbiased judges to serve on the new body.

"The great hope for international justice that the ICC represents rests with its integrity and its ability to provide fair, independent and impartial justice to people all over the world, irrespective of power, influence or authority," said Dato Param Cumaraswamy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, in a statement released in Geneva. "Its ability to achieve these lofty aims rests, to a substantial degree, with it remaining free of politics."

Mr. Cumaraswamy warned of a risk that the ICC could become politicized if the procedures that regulate the nomination and selection of its judges do not contain adequate safeguards. Under the Rome Statute which created the Court, an advisory committee on nominations will be set up. The Special Rapporteur said that panel "should contain individuals with recognized expertise in the exercise of the judicial function, especially at the international level, such as former members of international courts."

If the advisory committee is established appropriately, it can act as a strong safeguard for the integrity of the selection process, according to the Special Rapporteur.

The ICC, to be located at The Hague, will be established on Monday in accordance with its Statute, which requires 60 ratifications to enter into force. Currently, the Statute had 69 ratifications and 139 signatories.