International Justice Day 2020 – Statement by No Peace Without Justice

10 Jul, 2020 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 17 July 2020

On this International Justice Day, No Peace Without Justice renews our abiding commitment to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and serious human rights violations and to the human rights defenders who fight impunity for those crimes and seek redress for the victims. As we explore in our “Beyond Covid-19” series, even a global pandemic does not halt human rights violations or conflict; instead, it has seen increasing violations and a failure to resolve conflict, worsening the situation of victims and posing new risks and challenges for human rights defenders. We stand in solidarity with them and pledge to continue our work to improve the international justice system to help it answer their calls for justice and redress.

The past year has seen the commencement of a much-needed review of the International Criminal Court, a process called for by civil society and taken up by the States that are parties to the Rome ICC Statute. As we noted last year, there is a need for this kind of review, and subsequent action by the Court to implement its recommendations, given its less than stellar performance in the past. There were, nonetheless, positive developments at the ICC this past year. The disastrous decision not to open an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan was overturned by the Appeals Chamber, thereby overturning what many believed would otherwise have set a dangerous judicial precedent that all a country had to do to avoid an ICC investigation would be to refuse to cooperate with it. Ali Kushayb, an alleged leader of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur was transferred to the ICC after 12 years of being a fugitive from it. The ICC authorised the opening of an investigation into the situation in Bangladesh relating to the forced displacement of Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh in November 2019, during a week that saw a lot of hope for justice for the Rohingya with the commencement of cases also at the International Court of Justice and in the national courts in Argentina. 

The ICC stands at a crossroad and whether it stands or falls depends in part on itself, and in part on others. For itself, the ICC must continue to improve its work, continue to listen to its main stakeholders – the victims and communities in situation countries – and must listen with an open mind to constructive suggestions for reform, including from the Independent Expert Review. We cannot, however, turn a blind eye to the increasingly hostile environment in which the ICC must carry out its critical work. The ongoing attacks against the Court by the United States in particular represent a real threat to its ability to work and we continue to believe that these actions by US officials constitute an offence against the administration of justice under article 70 of the Rome Statute, in particular “retaliating against an official of the Court on account of duties performed by that or another official”, that can and should be investigated and prosecuted before the ICC. The Court has stated that it is not deterred by these threats and will continue to carry out its work impartially and independently, for the victims of the worst crimes known to humanity. It is up to the Court’s supporters, and particularly the States that are party to the Rome ICC Statute, to defend the Court so that it can to do just that. Those same States have a major responsibility coming up at the end of the year to elect new judges to sit on the ICC benches and, crucially, to elect a new Prosecutor who can navigate the troubled waters ahead.

For our part, No Peace Without Justice continues to stand with the Court, with the victims it serves and with the human rights defenders who are the lifeblood of the whole system. As we said last year, the reason we do this is simple: a world with a vehicle for accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide is better than a world without it.

For further information, contact Alison Smith, Director Of International Justice, on or Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator, on org.