Statement on the occasion of the World Day of International Justice, 2021 – World
Tomorrow, July 17, marks the World Day of International Justice. To celebrate this day, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect welcomes the enduring commitment of various States, multilateral institutions and civil society to uphold their responsibility to protect by pursuing justice for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This annual commemoration is an important time to recognize the progress made in the fight against impunity and to raise awareness of the challenges that remain.
The past year has seen two landmark legal cases. On February 4, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found former Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen guilty of 61 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in northern Uganda between July 1, 2002 and December 31, 2005. This case marked the first time that the ICC considered the offenses of forced pregnancy and marriage to be war crimes, thus contributing to the development of the international jurisprudence.
On June 8, the Appeals Chamber of the International Mechanism called to exercise the residual functions of the Criminal Tribunals confirmed in November 2017 the conviction of Ratko MladiÄ, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. MladiÄ was one of the most notorious perpetrators of atrocities in the wars in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s and was a fugitive from justice for more than a decade.
We have also seen significant progress in the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction, according to which the perpetrators of serious international crimes can be prosecuted at the national level regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators or victims, or of the place where the crimes were committed. committed. For example, on February 22, the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz in Germany convicted Eyad al-Gharib of complicity in 30 cases of crimes against humanity in Syria. This landmark case was the world’s first criminal trial concerning torture perpetrated by Syrian state officials since the conflict began in 2011.
Over the past year, the Netherlands and Canada have also taken legal action under the United Nations Convention against Torture in an attempt to hold the Syrian government accountable for its widespread and systematic use of torture. Such cases demonstrate that even in situations where the UN Security Council is divided and unable to respond appropriately to ongoing atrocities, individual states can still respect international law and their responsibility to protect.
The Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect also wishes to salute the retirement of the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, whose exemplary leadership over the past nine years has placed victims and survivors at the center of the work of the ICC. the courtyard. We warmly welcome Karim Khan as the new Chief Prosecutor and look forward to working with him in his new role.
Despite the progress made over the past year, civilians who continue to be victims of atrocities in Myanmar, South Sudan, Tigray (Ethiopia), Yemen and elsewhere are still awaiting trial. On this day, we reiterate our commitment to ensuring that all victims and survivors of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity receive the recognition and justice they deserve.