Eight years after assuming office as prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo spotlighted today the transformative changes taking place in international law, with countries increasing their support for ending impunity of international crimes, adding that this trend must continue to grow.
“A new global order based on law is coming. Seventy years ago the crime of genocide did not exist.” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo at the tenth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Stature of the ICC.
“Today we are discussing how States and the court are enforcing the new concept of crimes against humanity and genocide. In the 21st century the Assembly is leading the international community to protect every citizen in the world.”
The gathering, which is taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York, brings together representatives from the 118 States parties to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, to discuss matters central to the Court’s operation.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, whose term end in June next year, told the Assembly that support for the ICC is growing, as evidenced by the ratification of the Rome Statute by 42 additional States in the past eight years including “all South America and Europe and most of the Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa.”
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo also highlighted the recent accession of Tunisia, which adopted the Statute two weeks after the fall of the old regime.
“It sent a clear message: there is not turning back to abuse of power.” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said, adding that the recent accessions of Bangladesh and the Philippines also show a promising trend in Asia.
However, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said it is crucial for the ICC to remain independent while also avoiding isolation from the international community so it can do its job effectively.
Judge Sang-Hyun Song, the ICC’s President, echoed Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s remarks, saying that “if we are to end impunity and achieve lasting respect and enforcement of international justice, then along with the running of an effective court and progress towards universality we also need to protect the court’s independence.”
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo will be succeeded by Fatou B. Bensouda of the Gambia, who was officially elected today. Ms. Bensouda said at a press briefing that she would continue Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s work and would remain committed to fighting impunity of atrocious crimes.
In her address to the Assembly, Deputy Secretary-General Ashe-Rose Migiro congratulated Ms. Bensouda on her new position and reiterated the UN’s support for the ICC, which includes providing services and facilities for the court’s field missions, as well as facilitating the provision of information.
“The ICC is the vital and indispensable centrepiece of our system of international criminal justice. It is our best hope of ending impunity for international crimes. It is the vehicle with which our generation can significantly advance the cause of justice and, in so doing, reduce and prevent unspeakable suffering. If we fail to support the ICC and its noble cause, we fail humanity,” Ms. Migiro said.