Yemen, ICC: In a long-awaited session, the Yemeni Parliament voted today in favour of ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. With this ratification, the number of States Parties has now reached 105 and Yemen becomes only the fourth Arab State to join the ICC.

No Peace Without Justice has long been working in partnership with the Government of Yemen on their ratification of the Rome ICC Statute: the ICC was of the main pillars of the Sana’a Intergovernmental Regional Conference on Human Rights, Democracy and the Role of the International Criminal Court jointly organised by the Government of Yemen and NPWJ in January 2004. NPWJ has also been working closely with Yemeni human rights organisations, in particular the Sisters’ Arab Forum, with whom NPWJ organised an EU-funded workshop on the ICC for Journalists in June 2006.

Thanks to the engagement of the Yemeni Government and the insistent pressure and unrelenting work of Yemeni human rights activists, notably the Sisters’ Arab Forum, the commitments taken three years ago in Sana’a have now been honoured.

Statement by Sergio Stanzani and Gianfranco Dell’Alba, President and Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice offers its warmest congratulations to the Republic of Yemen for this historic step, which we have been looking forward to for a long time, and which has involved sustained commitment from all levels of Yemeni society, from civil society through parliamentarians to government officials.   With this morning’s news, Yemen has demonstrated its commitment to justice as a pre-condition for sustainable peace and has also signalled its willingness to continue to take a leading role in the region on issues of accountability and the rule of law.

“The International Criminal Court is at its most pivotal stage since its establishment in 2002. There are charges pending against individuals alleged to have committed serious violations of international law in each of the three situations under investigation (Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Darfur) and investigations in other countries are also likely to commence this year. With the recent request by the Prosecutor of the ICC for summons to appear in relation to two individuals for crimes allegedly committed in Darfur, support and cooperation from States of the Middle East and North Africa is even more critical to ensure that cases pending before the ICC can proceed efficiently and effectively.

“We very much hope that other countries in the region will follow Yemen’s example and ratify the Rome Statute with all possible speed, which would ensure more active participation from the region both in the Assembly of States Parties and in the work of the ICC itself.   This would also meet one of the recommendations endorsed by all participants at the Sana’a Inter-Governmental Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the ICC that NPWJ organised together with the Government of Yemen in January 2004.

“Now that Yemen has ratified the Rome ICC Statute, it must now ensure that it has in place appropriate procedures to enable it to cooperate fully with the ICC and to fulfil its complementarity obligations. In all of the conferences and workshops we have organised together with our partners in Yemen and the region, participants have consistently stressed the need for Yemen to adopt implementing legislation. We look forward to Yemen taking this next important step as soon as possible, further solidifying its commitment to the victims of these crimes and to justice as an integral part of peace.”

For more information, please contact Alison Smith, Coordinator of NPWJ’s International Criminal Justice Program, on or +32-(0)2-548-3912.