ICC Withdrawals: NPWJ welcomes clarity and leadership of UNHCHR Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: “Stand firm on Article 27″. “Those who want to leave, leave”.

16 Nov, 2016 | Press Releases

15th ASP to the ICC, The Hague, 16 November 2016
Speaking at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which opened today in The Hague, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on States Parties to robustly defend the Court and to resist the challenges posed by the decisions of three African States (South AfricaBurundi and Gambia) to withdraw from it.

In his keynote speech, the High Commissioner highlighted that the position of “States Parties seeking to desert the Court, to desert victims of the most abominable international crimes” seems to be aimed at “protecting their leaders from prosecution”. While lamenting these decisions as denying “victims of core crimes (…) their right to remedy and redress”, the High Commissioner stressed that “if the State Parties, who apparently have been masquerading in recent years as countries devoted to criminal accountability, want to leave, then they should leave”.

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) strongly welcomes UNHCHR’s call to the Assembly to stand firm to the principles underpinning the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity, in particular in respect of Article 27 (the irrelevance of official capacity, i.e. that there is no immunity for Heads of States or any other officials for crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC) . As stated by the High Commissioner, “while the Rome Statute provides for revisions, no change should be undertaken under threat of withdrawal, nor should any future amendment touch on the critical articles of the Statute. Specifically, the principle of the irrelevance of official capacity is prime, is existential for the Court”.

Read the full keynote speech delivered by UNHCHR here:

  • For further information, please contact Alison Smith, NPWJ Director for International Criminal Justice, on asmith@npwj.org or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3915.