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To the International Criminal Court

17/01/2009

Throughout my political career, I have always been a staunch advocate for the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a world where atrocities against men, women and children are perpetrated, it was a historical move for the international community to step up and decide that genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity can never be tolerated, no matter who commits them, or where. That, in my view, is nothing less than great progress for mankind.

One of the key figures in putting the ICC on the map and making it a legal body for all the world to reckon with, is the current ICC-president Philippe Kirsch. President Kirsch has been President of the International Criminal Court from its inception and has travelled around the world tirelessly to explain the importance of its work.

I was in South Africa when I got a call from President Kirsch' office. In two months, the Court will have a new president and they were looking for a new chef de cabinet to help ease the transition. As you can imagine, I have great respect for the ICC as well as its President. Getting that call from the President must have been a bit like a golf enthusiast receiving a call from Tiger Woods. It goes without saying that I accepted the offer. I studied international law in university, so to be part of the ICC in this important period in its young existence, is to me is a tremendous honour.

The Court will be dealing with some very interesting challenges in the coming months. Its first ever trial, against Thomas Lubanga, will start in January. He is charged with grave crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including recruiting young children to fight. The Court will also have to deal with its first ever request for an arrest warrant against a head of state. The Prosecutor has requested that the President of Sudan be tried for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. As the world watches these proceedings go ahead in an impartial and juridical way, it is my hope that international support for the ICC will continue to grow. Obviously, this new position also means silence on this site for the foreseeable future, since what I say could be associated with the Court. But that will be a small price to pay for the chance the ICC is giving me: to make a contribution to the global fight against the worst kinds of injustice and impunity.

 

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