Ten nations ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) today bringing the total number of nations to ratify the 1998 Rome treaty to 66, meaning that the ICC will finally enter into force this July. The ICC will operate across from the International Criminal Tribunal until it can move into its permanent home in the Hague, Netherlands in 2007. The ICC is a permanent court designed to prosecute war criminals, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC also presents clear language defining gender crimes to include rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. “A page in the history of humankind is being turned,” said United Nations Chief Legal Counsel Hans Corell.
The United States is one of the few Western countries not to ratify the ICC. The Bush Administration is even considering “unsigning” the treaty. “Unsigning” the ICC treaty would be a formal indication that the U.S. has no intention of ever ratifying the treaty and wishes to be released from its obligations. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has reportedly warned Secretary of State Colin Powell that attacking the ICC will provoke a clash with European allies. According to the UN Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs no country has ever left a UN treaty unsigned.
The ten countries to ratify the ICC today were: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania, and Slovakia.
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