Reject impunity: Don’t withdraw from the ICC

Declaration of FIDH and more than 100 Member and Partner Organisations (List below)

October 31.2016 – Our organisations defend human rights worldwide and accompany victims of the most serious crimes, wherever they occur and whomever the perpetrators. We fervently deplore actions taken by the governments of Burundi and South Africa to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and express our concern that these initial announcements may be the prelude to further withdrawals.

We strongly believe that the International Criminal Court must aspire to universality. The ICC can intervene only when national justice systems with jurisdiction do not have the will or capacity to bring justice to victims. As both ratifications by 124 States and continued civil society engagement make clear, the ICC has a vital role to play in the pursuit of global justice.

The current investigation into crimes committed in Georgia, and advances in the preliminary examinations opened in Afghanistan, Palestine, Ukraine and Iraq/UK, among others, reflect the direction the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC may take in future investigations. Those steps indicate that the OTP will not shy away from exercising its jurisdiction over international crimes within its jurisdiction, even when those crimes may have been committed by individuals from major world powers, such as the United States, Israel, Russia or the United Kingdom. We will continue to advocate for the OTP and the ICC as a whole to conduct such investigations.

We must remember that if the ICC has opened investigations in African countries during its first years of existence, it is in part because African States themselves overwhelmingly supported the creation of the ICC since 1998 by ratifying the Rome Statute and took a global leadership role in advancing the movement for accountability. Many African states have referred their own cases to the ICC to investigate the most serious crimes committed on their soil.

We believe that withdrawing from the ICC puts a premium on impunity. Withdrawal poses a threat to one of the greatest advances in justice of the 21st century, at a time when genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are perpetrated regularly and rampantly worldwide.

Make no mistake: only the powerful and the heartless fear the ICC, not the victims who place hopes in the Court when their quest for justice bears no fruit at the national level. This is true in Africa as on all other continents: no one should be shielded from justice.

We call on States Parties not to withdraw from the ICC and for States who have not ratified the Rome Statute to do so as soon as possible. International criminal justice is critical to making our world a fairer and safer place. This is not only a matter of accountability or of respect for human rights: it is a matter of preserving our common future.

1. Al Haq (Palestine)
2. Al Marsad – Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
3. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma – ALTSEAN-Burma (Burma)
4. Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (Russia)
5. Armanshahr / OPEN ASIA (Afghanistan)
6. Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos – APRODEH (Perú)
7. Asociacion pro derechos humanos de Espana – APDHE (Espana)
8. Association Cri de Coeur (Mali)
9. Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc – ADFM (Maroc)
10. Associations des juristes maliennes – AJM (Mali)
11. Association des victimes de la répression (Guinée)
12. Association des victimes du Camp Boiro (Guinée)
13. Association des victimes, parents et amis du 28 septembre 2009 – AVIPA (Guinée)
14. Association malienne des droits de l’homme – AMDH (Mali)
15. Association Marocaine des droits Humains – AMDH (Maroc)
16. Association mauritanienne des droits de l’Homme – AMDH (Mauritanie)
17. Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates – ATFD (Tunisie)
18. Bahrain Center for Human Rights – BCHR (Bahrain)
19. Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law (Tajikistan)
20. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC (Cambodia)
21. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO (Cambodia)
22. Center for Civil Liberties – CCL (Ukraine)
23. Center for Constitutional Rights – CCR (USA)
24. Centre canadien pour la justice internationale (Canada)
25. Centre Libanais pour les Droits Humains – CLDH (Liban)
26. Centre Oecuménique des droits humains – CEDH (Haïti)
27. Centro de Acción legal en Derechos Humanos – CALDH (Guatemala)
28. Centro de Capacitación Social de Panamá – CCS (Panama)
29. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS (Argentina)
30. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos – CIPRODEH (Honduras)
31. Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos – EQUIDAD (Perú)
32. Centro Nicaragûense de Derechos Humanos – CENIDH (Nicaragua)
33. Citizen Wat