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The Rome Statute: between the signature of Ukraine and ratification is two decades. EU advises to speed up the process

  • The Rome Statute between the signature of Ukraine and ratification is two decades EU advises to speed up the process

Kyiv: The European Union, through the head of its head office in Ukraine, Hyuga Mingarelli, expressed support for the desire of the Ukrainian authorities to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and urge that this process be launched in 2019. This will make it possible to effectively use the mechanism of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the matter of legal pressure on the external aggressor. 

The Ambassador for Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary stated this on Friday, during the 40th Annual Parliamentary Network for Global Action transnational network of members of parliament and the 10th Advisory Assembly of Parliamentarians for the International Criminal Court and Rule of Law.

“We are very pleased that Ukraine has such a great desire to ratify the Rome Statute, as was stated in the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. We want to support these intentions of the Ukrainian authorities. We recognize that the authorities of this country have a strong political will to move in the right direction. I would like to emphasize that it is critically important to change national legislation so that in the next 2019 this three-year period of ratification of the Rome Statute begins. If this is not done in 2019, it will be difficult to do it later. Therefore, let us be very careful and we will do it, ”Ukrinform website quotes Mingarelli.

At the same time, he stressed that the EU is calling for progress in ratifying the Rome Statute, which Ukraine can later use as an effective tool in the fight against impunity.

This confidence of the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine was illustrated by the following thesis: “Over the past four years, Ukraine has been confronted with military aggression that led to thousands of victims and numerous offenses in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law. It is important that these offenses do not remain without consequences for violators and criminals. The legal framework should be established for those people against whom crimes were committed. For this, the Rome Statute can be used as an effective tool in the fight against impunity. ”

He added that the EU is on the side of Ukraine in the process of its reforms, which have been extremely effective over the past four years.

“And you also started the reform of the judicial system, to which we were significantly involved. Much has already been done on this path, but a lot of work ahead. And thus, we are convinced more than ever how we need to reform the judicial system in this country, as it affects the lives of Ukrainians every day, ”the ambassador explained .

Recall that Ukraine signed the Rome Statute - as early as the end of the twentieth century - January 20, 2000, but has not yet ratified this document.

In general, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (eng. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ) is an international treaty that established the International Criminal Court. The statute establishes the functions, jurisdiction and structure of the court. The Statute was adopted at the diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998 and entered into force on July 1, 2002. In total, the Rome Statute was signed by 139 states, 31 signed but not ratified, 41 signed not at all. The US government, although it signed the Rome Statute in 2000, already in 2002 withdrew its signature .

Ukraine signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at the end of the twentieth century, January 20, 2000, but has not yet ratified it. Unlike international judicial bodies, which by their nature are auxiliary means of protecting the rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen, the International Criminal Court complements the system of national jurisdiction and can take on its proceedings not only at the request of the State party, but also on its own initiative. For example, when a state under whose jurisdiction there is a person suspected of committing a crime under the Charter “is unwilling or unable to investigate or initiate criminal prosecution properly. ”

The possibility of such additions to the judicial system of Ukraine in September 2016 was not provided for by Section VIII “Justice” of the Constitution of Ukraine. This provided grounds for concluding that the tenth paragraph of the preamble and Article 1 of the Charter did not comply with the provisions of the first and third parts of Article 124 of the Constitution of Ukraine, and therefore Ukraine’s accession to this Charter in accordance with the second part of Article 9 of the Constitution of Ukraine is possible only after making appropriate changes. Therefore, in April 2014, Ukraine, in accordance with paragraph 3 of Article 12 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, could only apply for acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court regarding the crimes of the Yanukovych regime during the events of the Revolution of Dignity.

 However, after the new wording of Article 124 of the Constitution of Ukraine came into force in June 2016, Ukraine can recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court under the conditions defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Rome Statute establishes four major international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. However, during the negotiations, other crimes, including ecocide, were considered for inclusion.

The prerequisites for adopting the Rome Statute were interesting. Of course, one of the most important moments in the history of law was the Nuremberg process, after which several treaties were signed, leading to the development of the Rome Statute.

The UN General Assembly Resolution No. 260 of December 9, 1948 - the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide - was the first step towards the creation of an international permanent criminal tribunal with jurisdiction over crimes that were not yet defined in international treaties. The resolution expressed hope for the progress of the UN Legal Commission in this direction.

However, the geopolitical tensions of the Cold War somewhat slowed down the progress in this area of ​​international law. However, Trinidad and Tobago appealed to the General Assembly in December 1989 to reopen negotiations on the establishment of an international criminal court, and in 1994 presented a draft statute. The General Assembly established an ad hoc committee for the International Criminal Court, after hearing the findings of the Preparatory Committee, which worked on the project for two years (1996-1998).

Meanwhile, the United Nations created special tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR), after which due to problems that arose during the pretrial investigation, or already at the judicial stage, the Charter was amended, which very much resembled the current Rome Charter.

It is worth recalling that, unlike other international and mixed criminal courts, the ICC is a permanent institution. Its competence includes crimes committed after the entry into force of the Rome Statute. Located in the city of The Hague, however, at the discretion of the Court, meetings can be held anywhere. The International Criminal Court should not be confused with the International Court of Justice, which also sits in The Hague, but has a different competence. The ISS is not part of the official structures of the United Nations, although it can initiate cases on the proposal of the UN Security Council.

Ukraine last year filed a lawsuit against Russia with the UN International Court of Justice in connection with the Kremlin’s violation of two international conventions as a result of the annexation of the Crimea and the aggression in the Donbas. Next year, the court will consider our claim on the merits.

Regarding the court of another jurisdiction, is also in The Hague International Criminal Court, last year I spoke with lawyer Boris Babin (even before he became the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the ARC, whose office is temporarily in Kherson) the question of the possible participation of the Russian Federation in the proceedings against it under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The fact is that in November 2016, the ICC officially recognized the Russian aggression against Ukraine. But after the International Criminal Court in The Hague published the official report of the Attorney General Fatu Bensud on the situation in Ukraine, Russia, as they say, immediately jumped off the topic.

Boris Babin told the previous and subsequent history of the issue: “Indeed, the Russian Federation signed the Rome Statute on September 13, 2000, but did not ratify it. Thus, it is not a State Party to the International Criminal Court. Therefore, after the report you mentioned, on November 16, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a fire order order “On sending a message to the UN Secretary General about the intention of the Russian Federation not to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“By the way, the flight of Russia from many international legal structures began from the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. In those days, Putin signed a decree that recognizes the supremacy of certain laws of the Russian Federation over its international obligations arising from its earlier signed conventions and treaties. In practical terms, when legal conflicts and conflicts arise, to determine this interspecific hierarchy of legal documents is recognized by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. And it’s not worth talking about his objectivity! ”The lawyer added.

Recently, the topic of the ICC and the annexed Crimea was again on the agenda. Human rights activists hope that the Hague will answer: will the International Criminal Court stop the military conscription in the Crimea?

As for the other crimes of the Kremlin in Ukraine? Let us hope that next year our country will ratify the Rome Statute and this will significantly help to strengthen our positions in international legal pressure on the aggressor, including the help of The Hague. 

Alexander Voronin, FNI


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