Mission for Establishment of Human  Rights in Iran



Coalition for the International Criminal Court


History of the Establishment of the International Criminal Court

In July 1998 – at a United Nations conference in Rome, Italy – governments overwhelmingly approved a 

Statute to establish a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). On April 11, 2002, the Rome Statute 

of the ICC received more than the 60 

ratifications required, and the treaty then entered into force on July 1, 2002. 


The “Road to Rome” was a long and often contentious one.  While the Court has roots in the early 19th 

Century, the story best begins in 1872, when Gustav Moynier, one of the founders of the International 

Committee of the Red Cross, proposed a permanent court in response to the crimes of the Franco-Prussian 

War.  The next serious call came after World War I, with the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Framers of the 

Treaty envisaged an ad hoc international court to try the Kaiser and German war criminals. Then, after World

War II, the Allies set up the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals to try Axis war criminals.  The world, reflecting 

on the Holocaust, cried “Never again!”  The call for an international institution to try individuals for the most heinous crimes resonated throughout the world – and many thought the founding of the United Nations would bring the world closer to a permanent Court.  Yet more than 50 years would pass before the world’s leaders would meet to prepare a treaty establishing a permanent International Criminal Court. 


Here are some highlights of the Road to Rome … and the creation of the ICC.


Oct. 1946        Soon after the Nuremberg Judgment, an international congress meets in Paris and calls for the adoption of an international criminal code prohibiting crimes against humanity and for the 

              prompt establishment of an international criminal court (ICC). 

Dec. 9, 1948    The UN General Assembly (GA) adopts the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment

               of the Crime of Genocide.  It calls for criminals to be tried “by such international penal tribunals as may have jurisdiction.”  Separately, members ask the International Law Commission (ILC) to study the possibility of establishing an ICC.

Dec. 10, 1948  The GA adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, detailing human rights and fundamental                          freedoms.


1949 – 1954    The ILC drafts statutes for an ICC, but opposition from powerful states on both sides of the Cold War stymies the effort and the GA effectively abandons the effort pending agreement on a definition of the crime of aggression and an international Code of Crimes.


1974                The GA agrees on a definition of aggression.


1989                The end of the Cold War brings a dramatic increase in the number of UN peace-keeping 

                        operations and a world where the idea of establishing an International Criminal Court is more 



June 1989        Motivated in part by an effort to combat drug trafficking, Trinidad and Tobago resurrects the proposal for an ICC.  The GA asks the ILC to prepare a draft statute.


1991-1992       Wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, including clear violations of the Genocide and  Geneva Conventions, lead the UN Security Council to establish a temporary ad hoc tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (in 1993) and strengthen discussions for a permanent Court.


1994                The ILC submits a draft Statute for an ICC to the GA.


                                                                                    The war in Rwanda leads the UN Security Council to establish a second ad hoc tribunal for Rwanda.


                                                                     The ILC presents a final draft Statute on the ICC to the GA and recommends that a conference of plenipotentiaries be convened to negotiate a treaty to enact the Statute.  The GA establishes an ad hoc committee on the ICC to review the draft Statute.


1995                         The NGO Coalition is formed to coordinate the efforts of human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, No Peace Without Justice, Parliamentarians for Global Action, Rights & Democracy and the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice. Mr. William Pace, Executive Director of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, is appointed Convenor.


1995                         The ad hoc committee holds two 2-week meetings at UN headquarters.  In December 1995, the GA establishes a three year Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) from March 1996 until April 1998, to finalize a text to be presented at a conference of plenipotentiaries.


June 15 – July 17, 1998      160 countries participate in the UN Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the establishment of an International Criminal Court in Rome, Italy.


July 17, 1998                     Member states overwhelmingly vote in favor of the Rome Statute of the ICC, creating the treaty establishing the first permenant international court capable of trying indivdiuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Feb. 2, 1999                      Senegal becomes the first State Party to ratify the Rome Statute.


May 13, 1999                    The Coalition for the International Criminal Court launches a campaign from The Hague calling for the world-wide ratification of the ICC Statute.


June 30, 2000                    Preparatory Commission adopts draft texts for the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Elements of Crimes, as mandated by the Final Act of the Rome Conference.


September 2000                 During the Millennium Summit, Secretary General Kofi Annan calls on all member states of the United Nations to ratify the Rome Statute as quickly as possible.


December 31, 2000           Deadline for signature of the Rome Statute.  The United States of America joins Iran and Israel as the last states to sign the treaty, bringing the total number of signatures to 139.


April 30, 2001                    Half-way mark toward the 60 ratifications or accessions required to trigger entry into force of the Rome Statute reached when Andorra becomes the 30th state to ratify the Rome Statute.


April 11, 2002                    The 60th ratification necessary to trigger the entry into force of the Rome Staute is deposited during a special ceremony at UN headquarters. Countries to deposit their treaty instruments during this ceremony are: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia.


May 6, 2002                      The U.S. government under the Bush Administration formally announces to the United Nations its intention not to ratify the Rome Statute, and its view that it is no longer bound by the terms of the treaty, implied by its signature under the Clinton Administration in December 2001.

July 1, 2002                       Following the formula set out in the Rome Statute, the treaty enters into force, becoming binding for all countries to have ratified or acceded to the Statute and for whom it had entered into force by that date.


July 12, 2002                     On this day, after intense U.S. pressure and threats to shut down the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1422 granting U.N. peacekeepers immunity from the jurisdiction of the ICC, retroactively effective as of  July 1, 2002 for a renewable one-year period.  


Sept 3-10, 2002                 The historic first meeting of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), the body composed of ratifying countries that provides administrative and other support to the Court, is held at UN headquarters in New York.  The ASP adopts the five years of Preparatory Commission work and procedures to facilitate the election of the qualified and representative judges to the Court.


Sept. 9, 2002                     The nomination period for the judges and Prosecutor of the Court is officially opened, with a closing date of November 30, 2002.


Sept. 16, 2002                   Samoa becomes the 80th State Party to the Rome Statute. 


November 30, 2002           Deadline for the nomination candidates for the posts of 18 judges and Prosecutor to the ICC is reached. Only countries to have deposited their instrument of ratification of or accession to the Rome Statute by this date are eligible to nominate an official or vote during the election of judges.  Forty-five nominations were received by the established deadline, although two countries withdrew their candidates, leaving 43 candidates at election time.  No candidate for Prosecutor was announced.


February 3 – 7, 2003         The first resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties convenes at U.N. headquarters in New York to elect the first 18 judges to the Court. The President of the Assembly of States Parties, Jordanian Ambassador Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, announces that the nomination period for the position of Prosecutor will be re-opened from March 24 – April 4, 2003.


March 11, 2003                 The first 18 judges of the ICC are sworn-in during in a high-level ceremony in The Hague, the Netherlands.         


June 16, 2003                    The first Prosecutor, Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is sworn in in The Hague, the Netherlands.


June 24, 2003                    Mr. Bruno Cathala from France is appointed Registrar of the Court, marking the selection of the final senior ICC official.


July 16, 2003                     ICC Prosecutor, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, holds his first press briefing to discuss the nearly 500 communications to have been received by the Court.  He names the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the most urgent situation that his office will “follow closely.”       

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