By Sinapan Samydorai –
But will ASEAN and Singapore commemorate the tenth anniversary of the International Criminal Court?
On 1 July 2002, ten years ago, the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) made history to end impunity. The preamble to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) reminds us that impunity is one of "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished". Today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is supported by 121 States Parties, with 22 warrants of arrest issued, 16 cases in 7 situations have been brought before the court.
THE ICC traces its lineage starting from the Nuremberg War Crime Trials which saw the trial of 22 defendants for the brutal murder of more than a million innocent men, women and children. The Nuremberg Trials condemned the aggressive war as the “supreme international crime.” Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said that: “In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law.” Soon after the 1945 Nuremberg trials, the Genocide Convention was adopted in 1948. But since the post 911 incident, there is an alarming increase in impunity, genocide and war crimes that claimed innocent women, children and men as victims. The difference now is however, the victims are seen by the "aggressive defenders" as merely unavoidable "collateral" damages in the war against terror.
We have witnessed, in the recent past, horrific acts against people of Southeast Asia in Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, East Timor, Indonesia, and Thailand. Lets also recall the horrific acts against people of the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and also the more recent and on-going horrors in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Sri
Lanka (against the Tamil people) and other nations. Today, cluster bombs, land mines, drone bombs, gas and even weapons of mass destruction can be use to ‘neutralize’ a "terrorist" and any one around even the innocent children, women, and men.
It is a serious concern for ASEAN member states and civil societies as impunity continues in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws. The states’ primary responsibility on impunity is to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.
At the moment, ASEAN seems to be more concern with manufacturing a "toothless ASEAN Human Rights Declaration" rather than providing real protection for the rights of the people. Such toothless declaration will surely face resistance and rejection from the people and civil society. But is ASEAN willing and prepared to even commemorate the tenth anniversary of the International Criminal Court?
On 13 March 2012, Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, appeal "to States, intergovernmental organizations and civil society to organize events under the theme “Tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute”, and focus on the future of the Rome Statute system and on achieving universality of the Statute." Furthermore, the call invites all the "stakeholders in the Rome Statute system to increase the awareness of the Court, to strengthen the understanding of its role and to contribute with ideas on how to
overcome the challenges faced by the Court and its States Parties."
Think Centre (TC), Singapore's oldest political association, had co-organized the First Singapore Seminar on the International Criminal Court, at Asia-Europe Foundation on August 28, 2004 and continues with the call for ASEAN member states to ratify the Rome Treaty for an International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Think Centre, shares the civil society perspectives of creating an effective, independent and just International Criminal Court, calls on Singapore and ASEAN Member States to support a strong International Criminal Court (ICC). With trouble brewing in the South China Sea and with internal conflicts growing within some ASEAN Members States, it
is important to sign and ratify the Rome Treaty for an International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to strengthen the rule of law within and across the whole of ASEAN. Think Centre appreciates the ratification by Cambodia (11 April 2002) and Philippines (30 August 2011) of the Rome Statute and encourages the other ASEAN member states to ratify the Rome Statute.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent international judicial institution with jurisdiction over individuals who commit gross violations against human rights and humanitarian law including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, as gross violations of human rights, and encourages the abolishing of the death penalty. The
ratifying ASEAN Member States should f ulfill their obligation by providing national laws to ensure genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, can be tried within their own borders. But when national Courts are unable or unwilling to do so, the ICC ensures that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Director of ASEAN Affairs