Ban Ki-moon characterized the conference as “an occasion to strengthen our collective determination that crimes against humanity not go unpunished…whether they are [committed by] soldiers following orders or top political leaders.” The UN Secretary-General specifically called for accountability for crimes of sexual violence to be a top priority of the court. Noting that international criminal justice has emerged as a powerful voice against the epidemic of violence against women and the importance of prosecutions for crimes of sexual violence, he called for the states to turn up the volume.
Many speakers referred to the debate around whether the pursuit of justice after a conflict impedes peace talks to settle the conflict, the issue of peace or justice. Ban Ki-moon called this “a false choice.” He argued that “between war and peace must come reconciliation and forgiveness” and that the pursuit of justice is an essential part of that process. The lead judge of the Court, it’s President, added “if peace and justice do not go hand in hand we risk losing both.” Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that “the choice between justice and peace is no longer an option. We must be ambitious enough to pursue both, and wise enough to recognize, respect and protect the independence of justice.”
Kofi Annan also spoke to the contention that African nations are against the Court. He explained that “It is not Africa that is hostile to the Court. When I meet Africans from all walks of life, they demand justice. In all these cases, it is impunity, not the African countries, that is being targeted. Africa wants this Court. Africa needs this Court. Africa should continue to support this Court”.
All of the speakers thanked civil society, an acknowledgment that the legacy of years of drafting legal provisions, negotiating and campaigning is reflected in many progressive provisions of the ICC statute.
Listen to Wangari Maathai talk about why the ICC should prosecute gender based crimes.
Women demand answers and action from ICC, IPS, 1 June 2010.
ICC must advance women’s rights, say activists, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 1 June 2010.
Women activists want Bashir arrested, The New Vision, 31 May 2010.
Follow our delegation, led by Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Wangari Maathai, through video, blog posts, and daily updates from the ICC review conference. Visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.