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20th anniversary of the Rome Statute

20th anniversary of the Rome Statute

Published on July 17, 2018
The creation of a criminal court with universal jurisdiction represented an important step in the fight against impunity.

On July 17, 1998, the statute of the first permanent International Criminal Court was adopted in Rome by 120 countries so that those responsible for the most serious crimes could be brought to justice. The creation of a criminal court with universal jurisdiction represented an important step in the fight against impunity.

Indeed, the International Criminal Court is mandated to bring to justice people responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. States maintain primary responsibility for trying the perpetrators of such crimes. Cases may be referred to the ICC by a state, a public prosecutor, or by the UN Security Council.

France, which played a major role in negotiating the Rome Statute, signed it on the very day it was adopted.

We are committed to the balances guaranteed by the Statute between legal traditions, court languages, and the court’s independence, and the balance between the powers of the prosecutor and the rights of the defense.

Today, July 17, 2018, also marks the start of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, under amendments adopted in 2010 and a decision by the Assembly of States Parties adopted in 2017. The latter confirmed that, consistent with the Statute, the Court cannot exercise its jurisdiction should a case be referred to it by a State Party or at its own initiative, when the acts in question have been committed by a national of a State Party that has not ratified these amendments, or on the territory of that state. These amendments have not been ratified by a very large majority of States Parties, including France, which does not accept this jurisdiction. Indeed, it could lead to contradictory decisions by the Court and the Security Council on the existence of an act of aggression.

France supports the Court’s operations, both through its budgetary contribution and its cooperation with the Court. It encourages the Court’s bodies to continue their efforts to ensure that it carries out its mission effectively. It calls on all nations that have not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute.

They can be seen in French diplomatic activities through the inclusion of ICC issues both bilaterally – France promotes the universalization of the Rome Statute and cooperation with the ICC to its partners – and multilaterally. At the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, whenever necessary France defends references to the International Criminal Court when negotiating resolutions, and seeks to improve cooperation between all States and the Court for the implementation of UNSC resolutions.

France is the country which cooperates most closely with the Court, after the States in which the events under investigation took place. It was at France’s instigation that the Security Council referred the situations in Darfur and Libya to the ICC. France’s work relating to the ICC was stepped up following the introduction of a European framework on combating impunity.

France played an important role in creating, implementing and organizing the Trust Fund for Victims. Its mission is to pay individual reparations to victims based on the reparation orders set out by the Court and to provide them with physical and psychosocial rehabilitation or material support. It has financed projects in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since the Court’s creation, France, which is its third-largest donor, has provided it with significant funding, with an annual contribution of more than €12 million per year.

Three French judges have been elected to the ICC since its creation. French nationality is more represented at the Court than any other.

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