The International Criminal Court (ICC) welcomed the Palestine as the 123rd State Party to its founding Rome Statute today, in a ceremony held at the seat of the Court in The Hague in The Netherlands.
“Accession to a treaty is, of course, just the first step,” said Judge Kuniko Ozaki, the ICC’s Second Vice-President. “As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly.”
During the ceremony, Ms. Ozaki presented Riad Al-Malki, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, with a special edition of the Rome Statute, as a symbol of their joint commitment to the rule of law.
Joining Ms. Ozaki and Mr. Al-Malki at the ceremony were several other ICC judges, as well as the ICC Deputy Prosecutor, James Stewart, ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel and the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute, Sidiki Kaba.
“Such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, that are ideals of peace and justice for all,” said Mr. Kaba.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki said thee accession brought the world closer to its shared goals of justice and peace.
“As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice,” he said.
Today’s step comes after the 16 January announcement by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that she had opened a preliminary examination into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, following the accession earlier in January by the Palestinian Authority to the Court’s founding Rome Statute.
A news release from the ICC noted that Ms. Bensouda opened an initial examination of the situation following the Palestinian Government accession to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015 and its declaration of 1 January 2015, accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC ‘over alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.’