Judge Sang Hyun Song [official profile], the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], on Tuesday urged the international community [press release] to commit to bringing perpetrators of war crimes and genocide to justice. Song's statement marked International Criminal Justice Day, July 17, which was the date that the Rome Statute [text, PDF] was signed in 1998, officially creating the ICC. Song declared that although the court has brought many criminals to justice in its 15-year existence, the international community needs to do more to ensure that the ICC functions properly:
While we have come a long way, we cannot afford complacency. Make no mistakethe ICC faces threats today as real as ever before. There are those who seek to undermine the international justice movement, who politicise its action, who question its value, and who purport to speak for the victims it serves. There are those who refuse to cooperate, leaving more than ten ICC suspects still at large.Song also emphasized that international criminal justice is a fundamental human value rather than the product of any particular culture.
The ICC [JURIST backgrounder] has recently grappled with challenging human rights issues in Africa. Earlier this week the ICC urged [JURIST report] Nigerian authorities to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in the Darfur conflict. The ICC has faced difficulties in enforcing its arrest warrant against al-Bashir, in part because of the lack of support by neighbor states. Also this week the ICC rejected [JURIST report] a request by Kenyan officials to change the forum of their trials to Kenya or Tanzania. Joshua Sang and William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] are accused of inciting violence after the 2007 presidential election, in which 1,100 people died.