International Criminal Court (ICC) President Judge Sang-Hyun Song and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday 13 July 2011 to strengthen and develop co-operation between their organisations to jointly support states implementing international criminal law.
The signing took place at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in Sydney, Australia, and was witnessed by law ministers, attorneys-general and senior officials from the 54-member Commonwealth.
The ICC President commended the Commonwealth Secretariat for its sterling work in promoting the development and implementation of international criminal law.
“National jurisdictions are the first line of defence against impunity for mass atrocities. The ICC is a safety net, a court of last resort,” said President Song.
“For justice to prevail, we need to develop the national and international elements in parallel. The Commonwealth is uniquely placed to facilitate that process.”
Mr Sharma highlighted the ICC’s central role in international efforts to achieve justice for victims and to prevent impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other forms of violent aggression.
He said the co-operation agreement between the Commonwealth and the ICC would help promote the rule of law at the national level through capacity-building measures in the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
“This marks a new chapter in our work in the delivery of capacity-building measures such as developing training and assistance programmes for national judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice officials in the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law,” Mr Sharma said.
“The conclusion of this Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates our deep-rooted commitment to the rule of law. It is a fundamental Commonwealth value within the
new humanism we espouse. In concrete terms this means providing mutual support in upholding human rights, in providing access to justice for victims and in fighting impunity, particularly for perpetrators of those most heinous atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he added.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the two organisations will enhance their co-operation in promoting the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute. It calls for the exchange of information and legal materials, organise and participate in joint meetings and conferences at all levels, develop training and assistance programmes for legal professionals in Commonwealth countries, and support states as they implement international criminal law at the national level.