Minister Erjavec and ICC President Song support the Court's jurisdiction
Ljubljana, 15 May 2014 ÔÇô Brdo pri Kranju is hosting a two-day international seminar entitled "Turning the Kampala Amendments into Reality". The seminar forms part of a campaign supporting the exercise of jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning the crime of aggression (http://crimeofaggression.info/) and is the first event of its type organised for the countries of the Eastern European Group (EEG). Its purpose is to encourage countries to ratify the changes to the Rome Statute, by which the ICC will be the first international court, since the courts in Nuremberg and Tokyo, able to investigate and convict individuals for the crime of aggression.
The eminent guests taking part in the discussion include the Slovenian Foreign Minister, Karl Erjavec, the ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song, UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Slovenian Constitutional Judge and member of the UN International Law Commission, Prof Ernest Petri─Ź, and the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann. The participants were addressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon via video. The event is organised by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry in cooperation with Liechtenstein and the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression.
At the opening, Minister Erjavec underlined the preventive role of the ICC, pointing out that nobody is above the law. He said that Slovenia's priorities include respect for human rights, the rule of law, peaceful policies and the prevention of genocide. "We are confident that the ICC can prevent such things, especially the worst human rights violations, genocide and aggression."
According to the Minister, the Rome Statute and the Kampala Amendments protect smaller countries, so Slovenia was among the first states to ratify both. "It is the bigger countries that encourage aggression," Minister Erjavec recalled. He advocated dialogue on the challenges facing the ICC. "The International Criminal Court is currently addressing different situations. We regret its inability to act in cases where mass violence and crimes occur on a daily basis, such as in Syria or North Korea." Such examples highlight the importance of enhanced ICC jurisdiction concerning mass crimes and violence, including the crime of aggression.
The ICC President Song said that the Court had proved useful during its sixteen years of existence. It is important that the Court receive the opportunity to judge crimes of aggression, namely the actions of political or military leaders who are responsible for the worst forms of force used against another country. "Aggression is not a crime in itself, but it often leads to other atrocities, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity. It represents the biggest danger to international peace and security," said Judge Song. He called upon countries to support the ICC in its efforts, and to advocate its universal authority.
The ICC President thanked Slovenia for its long-standing and strong support of the International Criminal Court, and for its contribution to the Trust Fund for Victims. He also met Minister Erjavec, with whom he discussed cooperation between Slovenia and the ICC, reservations of African countries and the possibility of referring the Syrian case to the ICC.
While attending the seminar, State Secretary Bogdan Benko met Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, and Under-Secretary Miguel de Serpa Soares. The State Secretary affirmed that Slovenia supported international criminal justice, especially the work of the Court. The other two parties welcomed Slovenia's visible role in this area, and encouraged the country to continue its efforts.
At the closing of the first day of the seminar, State Secretary Benko hosted the reception for participants. The keynote speech was given by Dr Danilo Turk, former President of the Republic of Slovenia.