July 18, 2017

Statement of ABA President Linda Klein Re: International Criminal Justice Day 2017

WASHINGTON, DC, July 17, 2017 – The American Bar Association joins the world community in recognizing International Criminal Justice Day 2017, as well as the 15th anniversary of the movement’s crowning achievement, the International Criminal Court.

Every July 17 is a day to reflect upon and acknowledge the many gains achieved in holding accountable those who commit the atrocity crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  It is also a time to be reminded of the essential role that due process, fair trials, indictments and judgments play in ending impunity for atrocity crimes.  The ABA has long believed that peace and security are best achieved and maintained through the rule of law.  

On July 1, 2002, the ICC began operations – a day long sought by the world community.  (For its part, the ABA had since 1978 called for the creation of a permanent international criminal tribunal.)  The ICC has accomplished much in 15 years, most notably in making accountability for atrocity crimes an expectation rather than a fleeting hope.  As recognized by the court itself, much work remains to be done in enhancing its effectiveness and efficiency. Yet the nations of the world also have much more to do in cooperating and assisting ICC investigations and prosecutions, as well as in developing complementary national capacity to pursue accountability for atrocity crimes.   

It is for these and other reasons that the ABA was honored to host the president of the ICC, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, at its Washington, D.C., offices last month to discuss mutual collaboration and capacity support.  Recently, in my capacity as ABA president, I visited the ICC and had a fruitful meeting with President Fernández as well.  We look forward to building on an already strong relationship. 

The ABA calls upon governments around the world – including the United States – to join and support the ICC, provide resources to its annual budget, cooperate fully with its proceedings and implement the Rome Statute fully at the national level in accordance with the complementarity principle.  Only through such robust support can justice be assured for victims of atrocity crimes, and would-be perpetrators be deterred.   


(Media contact:    Matthew.Cimento@americanbar.org)

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