Jurists call for an International Penal Court

During the discussion on the human rights situation in the former Yugoslavia, the ICJ intervened before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stressing the need to establish an International Penal Court.

Recognizing the dire necessity to prosecute those responsible for mass and flagrant human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia, the ICJ welcomed Security Council Resolution 780, which creates an impartial panel of experts to investigate the crimes being committed in the conflict. The Commission on Human Rights, the ICJ said, should adopt a resolution articulating the practical steps to be taken to establish this ad hoc tribunal and to extend its mandate to include not only the responsibility to investigate, but also the power to prosecute.

The ICJ noted, however, that this ad hoc tribunal, while relevant in the case of the former Yugoslavia, does not answer the global demand for an International Penal Court. The ICJ asserted that since international human rights law was created to protect all equally, it must be respected and defended universally, not according to region or subject. The ICJ stated that the ad hoc panel’s important deterrent function is undermined by its limited scope, and that the impunity enjoyed by many human rights violators is simply not threatened by this temporary body of experts with limited jurisdiction.

In this regard, the ICJ reasserted the need for a permanent and independent International Penal Court to adjudicate the criminal responsibility of individuals charged with committing gross violations of human rights wherever and whenever they occur. The ICJ called on the international community to support and to strengthen the mandate of the ad hoc tribunal on the former Yugoslavia as a first step towards the establishment of an International Penal Court.

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