On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to go ahead with efforts to achieve universal justice.
The top UN official said in his message for the Day of International Criminal Justice, observed annually on July 17, “Today, as we reflect on the suffering of all victims and survivors of grave crimes, I encourage all states to ratify the Rome Statute, and call on the international community to drive forward efforts to achieve accountability and justice for all”.
Mentioning that July 17 marks the 23rd anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty, which aims to end impunity for perpetrators of the world’s most serious crimes, the secretary-general stated that accountability for these crimes “is central to our global commitment to peace, security, human rights, and fundamental freedoms”.
He said that the United Nations has been committed to the International Criminal Court from the outset, based on the belief in the importance of international criminal justice, of which the court is a pillar. The International Criminal Court has handed down significant rulings, proving that those who commit grave crimes, such as sexual and gender-based offenses, will face justice.
He further stated that Dominic Ongwen was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo earlier this year, while Bosco Ntaganda’s conviction was confirmed.
The UN chief emphasized that the International Criminal Court is only one part of the international justice system, which also includes other courts, tribunals, and non-judicial mechanisms, noting that the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon both reached significant milestones this year.
The UN is also heavily involved in supporting member nations in dealing with impunity on a national level.