Vanuatu has become the latest State to accede to the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), bringing to 120 the number of countries that are parties to the statute, the court reported today.
Vanuatu deposited to the United Nations its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute on Friday, the ICC said in a press release. The treaty will enter into force in the South Pacific island nation on 1 February next year.
“With this act, Vanuatu strengthens its contribution to the international legal order and acquires additional protection for its territory and population against the gravest crimes known to humanity,” said Sang-Hyun Song, the ICC President.
“I hope Vanuatu’s example will encourage other members of the Pacific Island Forum – many of which still remain outside the Rome Statute system – to join the ICC in the near future,” he added.
The President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Christian Wenaweser, said: “This accession shows the Pacific region’s commitment to international criminal justice. It is also an important milestone for the Assembly, as the number of States Parties has now reached the number of States that voted in favour of the Rome Statute in 1998.”
The ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC prosecutor or a State party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.