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City Bar Statement Celebrating International Justice Day – July 17, 2014

International Justice Day is a particularly appropriate time to acknowledge the importance of having international and hybrid courts, as well as domestic courts, available to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have been important tools in the fight against impunity.

A significantly more important component of the system of International Justice is the International Criminal Court (ICC), a tribunal currently prosecuting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague, Netherlands.

The New York City Bar Association was one of the earliest leaders in endorsing the ICC, with a statement in 1997 towards the end of the negotiations to create the Rome Statute that established the court.  The City Bar also went on record as supporting accession by the United States to the Rome Statute in 2002.

The ICC is now a fully established and permanent institution.  In its 21 cases, of which two have now resulted in convictions, the Court has already made important progress in clarifying and implementing international law as to the core crimes in its jurisdiction.

The Court is especially important for lawyers to advance the rule of law internationally, for setting and applying high standards of due process, and for developing ways for victims to participate and have a voice in trials.

One hundred and twenty-two countries are parties to the ICC’s Rome Statute.  While the U.S. is not yet a party, the City Bar is pleased by the effective and increasingly close relationship between the U.S. and the Court and calls for the progressive removal of legislative obstacles to full U.S. engagement.

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