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International prosecutors call for convention on crimes against humanity

[JURIST] Prosecutors from the five major international tribunals on Monday called on member states [press release] "to seriously consider the adoption of a convention on the Suppression and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity." The statement came at the end of a three-day convention and reitereated the need to fight against impunity for perpetrators of serious international crimes. Representatives from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official websites] attended the colloquium, which was held in Rwanda and hosted by the ICTR. The statement, which was unanimously adopted by the participants, also called on states to ensure their legal systems can effectively prosecute international crimes, to provide full cooperation to the all international criminal tribunals, and to become a party to the Rome Statute [text, PDF] of the ICC, if they have not already done so. Speaking at the closing ICTR President Judge Dennis Byron [official profile] spoke of the need for the tribunals to share their experiences and knowledge.

The ICC was established in 2002 in order to create a permanent international criminal court for the prosecution of "the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community." It is governed by the Rome Statute, which has been ratified [ICC Now website] by 110 of the 192 UN member states and signed by 139 member states. The US originally signed the treaty, but then-president George W. Bush "unsigned" it by informing the UN that the US did not intend to ratify it. Recent media reports have suggested that the Obama administration may be considering joining the ICC, but advocacy groups have urged [JURIST report] the White House not to re-sign the Rome Treaty. Other scholars have said that the time has come [JURIST op-ed] for the US to support the ICC. Other states that have refused to ratify the treaty include China, India, and Russia.

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