Media Center

Press Release


  March 31, 2005

“To tear down the wall of impunity, it is necessary to enforce international justice when national systems are unwilling or unable to act,” the President of the International Criminal Court, Philippe Kirsch , asserted as he called for strong international cooperation to “build a culture of accountability and to eliminate impunity for the most notorious international criminals.”

Highlighting the crucial role of the nations of the Americas in ensuring the success of the Court, Kirsch argued, “We cannot and must not let the Court fail.” The renowned Canadian jurist was delivering the keynote presentation for the third conference in the monthly Lecture Series of the Americas, at OAS headquarters Thursday afternoon.

OAS Permanent Council Chairman Manuel María Cáceres opened the conference , with Peru’s Ambassador Alberto Borea introducing Kirsch. OAS Acting Secretary General Luigi Einaudi also made opening remarks and moderated the question-and-answer period that followed the main remarks by Kirsch, who focused on “The International Criminal Court and the Enforcement of International Justice.”

Noting that with the Court now a reality “the support of the OAS, its member states, and civil society in the Americas is now as critical as ever to the success of this essential institution,” he outlined the origins of the international court as a response to the atrocities of the 20th century, when millions of children, women, and men became victims of “unimaginable atrocities that deeply shocked the conscience of humanity.”

At the end of his remarks, the ICC President took questions from the audience, and further explained the Court’s jurisdictions, noting it is not a human rights body, nor exercises jurisdiction over national courts. “The Court has jurisdiction over individuals who commit the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.”

Mr. Kirsch’s lecture, was followed by a roundtable discussion with prominent jurists who presented differing views on the ICC, generating a stimulating exchange with the audience. The panelists were: Clare Roberts , President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Diane F. Orentlicher , Professor of International Law, Washington College of Law, American University; Michael Matheson , visiting professor of law at the George Washington University, and David B. Rivkin , member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and expert in the international law of armed conflict. Irene Klinger , Coordinator of the Lecture Series of the Americas and Director of the OAS Department of Communications and External Relations, moderated the panel discussion.

The Lecture Series of the Americas was created by the OAS Permanent Council, acting on an initiative of the Peruvian government, with the goal of promoting democratic principles and values in the countries of the hemisphere. The monthly conferences feature internationally known speakers who address key issues of the hemispheric agenda, such as the strengthening of democracy, human rights, social development, hemispheric security and the fight against poverty. The 12 conferences scheduled for 2005 are being held thanks to a financial contribution from Peru’s San Martín de Porres University .

Reference: E-061/05