HL Deb 11 April 2002 vol 633 cc119-20WA
Baroness Billingham

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will enter into force. [HL3695]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

This is an historic day for international justice and for the human rights of every citizen of the world. Today, at the United Nations in New York, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Ireland, Mongolia, Romania and Slovakia deposited their instruments of ratification to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. These ratifications bring to 63 the number of states to have committed themselves to this landmark convention, and therefore activates the statute, which will enter into force on 1 July 2002.

The ICC will try those individuals accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, irrespective of their rank or position. In future, tyrants will know that their actions are not beyond the reach of international justice. The victims of their crimes will, for the first time, be able to look forward to the prospect of real justice. The culture of impunity, which has shrouded human rights violations for too long, will be over.

This Government have always been enthusiastic supporters of the court. It is our belief that the global rule of law is stronger than the local rule of tyrants. We played a major part in drafting the statute and worked hard to secure the passage of the International Criminal Court Act through this Parliament and the Scottish Parliament to enable us to be among the first 60 states to ratify.

The ICC will be a permanent court acting as a permanent deterrent for all potential tyrants. In time, this will be the law which transcends borders and embodies global values. As ever with all institutions of the law, its practice will be as important as its founding principles. We are committed to ensuring that it does its job fairly and impartially. We hope shortly to nominate a British candidate to be one of the judges of the court.

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