With the Organization of American States (OAS) concerned over “persistent” violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin has urged cooperation by states, international and regional organizations and civil society help the International Criminal Court function effectively.
The OAS Assistant Secretary General was addressing a seminar in Paramaribo, Suriname, at the weekend, when he made the appeal, arguing that the ICC needs political support as it approaches its sixth anniversary. Political support in the Americas can be achieved with the OAS actively persuading the authorities of countries to cooperate with the ICC in the protection of victims and witnesses, and to respect and implement ICC decisions, Ambassador Ramdin explained to the conference.
Organized by the National Assembly of Suriname, the Regional Parliamentary Seminar on International Justice and Security and the Role of the International Criminal Court brought together a range of high-level local and international participants, including Suriname’s President Ronald Runaldo Venetiaan and Vice-President Ramdien Sardjoe. Among other participants were Suriname’s National Assembly Chairman Slamet Paul Somohardjo; Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Suriname’s National Assembly, Ruth J. Wijdenbosch; members of the country’s Judiciary and National Assembly; Vice-President of the International Criminal Court Judge Rene Blattmann; members of the diplomatic corps; the Youth Parliament and Youth Ambassadors; trade unions; and the media.
Ramdin described the ICC’s establishment as “a milestone in efforts to combat impunity,” and called the Court itself a component of the international criminal justice system and an effective instrument for consolidating justice, security and peace.
The International Criminal Court was created under the Rome Statute adopted on July 17, 1998, and in effect since July 1, 2002, with the power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, and is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions. As of March 14, 2008, the Rome Statute had been signed by 139 States and ratified by 106. Twenty-three OAS Member States are party to the Rome Statute.
Lauding efforts underway in Suriname and other Caribbean countries to consider becoming parties to the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, Ambassador Ramdin urged countries that have not already done so to consider acceding to the Rome Statute. He called on states that are already party, to “promote and respect its intent and its purpose in order to preserve its effectiveness and integrity, and in so doing contribute to peace, justice, stability and prosperity in the world.”
OAS initiatives such as the model law on cooperation between states and the International Criminal Court were cited by Ramdin, who noted consultations between the hemispheric organization and the Office of the Prosecutor of the Court, to sign a draft cooperation agreement. “The agreement will also be an important instrument to facilitate the dissemination of information on the International Criminal Court to OAS Member States that request it,” he added.
In an update on the just-concluded OAS General Assembly—the 38th regular session held in Medellin, Colombia, June 1 to 3—Ramdin said the meeting of the hemisphere’s foreign ministers had reaffirmed the primary duty of all states to investigate, prosecute and punish those violations to prevent them from recurring and prevent perpetrators from acting with impunity. He spoke about ICC-related mandates the Inter-American Juridical Committee received from the General Assembly, including to prepare a questionnaire on the extent to which domestic laws enable OAS Member States to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.