JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
12 December 1999
Australia Commits to International Criminal Court
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Defence have today announced that the Government has decided to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which was adopted at the Rome Diplomatic Conference in 1998.
"The establishment of an effective international criminal court is a prime foreign policy goal of this government, and one in which I have taken a strong personal interest. Given Australia's leading role in promoting the Court, it is fitting for Australia to be making an early commitment to ratifying the Statute," said the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer.
This milestone decision reflects Australia's strong commitment to the Court. Australia demonstrated this commitment by playing a significant and influential role in the negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Court's Statute. The group of like-minded delegations at the Rome Conference played a critical role in the successful outcome of that Conference.
The establishment of the Court is strongly supported within the Australian community.
"I am very pleased that Australia will be ratifying the Statute," said Attorney-General, Daryl Williams. "I will be moving to introduce legislation necessary to reflect Australia's commitment to the Statute. When established, the Court will be capable of bringing to justice those persons who commit the grave crimes within its jurisdiction and, by doing so, it will serve notice to all who would commit such crimes that they cannot do so with impunity."
The International Criminal Court will be a permanent tribunal based in The Hague with prospective jurisdiction to deal with the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
90 nations, including Australia, have signed the Court's Statute, which takes the form of a multilateral treaty, and 5 have ratified it already. The Statute will come into force once 60 nations have ratified it.
"I am confident that the International Criminal Court will prove to be an effective instrument in the enforcement of international humanitarian law," said the Minister for Defence, John Moore.
The Ministers noted that there was ongoing work at the international level relating to the establishment of the Court, in which Australia is an active participant. Representatives of the three Departments, and a State representative from the Office of the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions, are currently participating in the Preparatory Commission for the Court, which is meeting at the UN in New York.
Ministerial - Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500
Departmental - Matt Francis (02) 6261 1555
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