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UK Mission to the United Nations

New York

London 18:13, 02 Jan 2013
New York 13:13, 02 Jan 2013
Last updated at 18:51 (UK time) 23 Jun 2010

International Criminal Court

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

ICC Prosecutor briefs the media on Sudan

Recent developments

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecuter presented his eleventh periodic report under Security Council resolution 1593 (2005) concerning his investigation into the situation in Darfur on 11 June 2010. 

The first Review Conference of the ICC was held in Kampala, Uganda, from 31 May-13 June.  During that Review Conference, important amendments were put in place in relation to prohibited weapons and to the crime of aggression, upon which further discussions will be held after 2017.

Background

The UK is one of the strongest supporters of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first independent permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help bring an end to impunity by trying persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  It represents a major advance in international justice and the fight against impunity for perpetrators of the most serious international crimes.

The ICC is an independent international organisation and not part of the United Nations system.  In 1998, 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the International Criminal Court, which entered into force in 2002 after it was ratified by 60 countries.  The UK was a key proponent of the ICC in Rome, a founding signatory of the Statute, and is now one of 111 States Parties to the Rome Statute.

The Court began operating in summer 2003 when it appointed its first Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo (Argentina).  British Judge, Sir Adrian Fulford QC, is the presiding judge in the first case to be heard by the ICC.

Three of the Court's State Parties have referred situations to the Prosecutor for investigation – the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Central African Republic (CAR).  In addition the Security Council has referred the situation in the Darfur Region of Sudan to the Court.  

In the DRC the investigation has focused on the Ituri region, where conflict between opposing militia and rebel groups has resulted in serious breaches of international law including massacres, systematic sexual violence and the endemic use of child soldiers by all parties. Following the arrest of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first ICC trial began in January 2009, with British judge Sir Adrian Fulford QC presiding.  The accused is charged with offences relating to the conscription of children under fifteen years old and using them to participate in hostilities.  

Uganda asked the ICC to investigate the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. The LRA has been leading a long insurgency against the Ugandan government, causing widespread suffering and terrorising local communities. The Prosecutor launched a formal investigation at the end of July 2004, and in 2005 arrest warrants were issued for five leading members of the LRA, though these warrants have not yet been executed.

In Central African Republic (CAR) the Prosecutor commenced an investigation in 2007 into rapes committed on a massive scale during the period 2002-03.  In July 2008, the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, was transferred to the Hague for trial on charges of rape, murder and torture as crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

In relation to the situation in Darfur, which was referred to the ICC by the Security Council under resolution 1593 (2005).  Arrest warrants have been issued for the arrest of Ahmad Harun, Ali Kushayb and President Omar Al-Bashir in respect of attacks on the civilian population of Darfur including murder, rape, torture and forcible transfer amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes.