Eighteen days ago Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, outgoing President of the ICC, stated that neither impermanent sophistries nor the glacially evolving fundamentals of international criminal law institutions matter. “Let me be clear here, as clear as I can possibly be: the law is for the people”, he told his interviewer.1 Legal technicalities are vital embodiments of this purpose, but they are secondary to it. Judge Eboe-Osuji added that he sees the Rome Statute as the culmination of eight decades of unceasing efforts to ease the chokeholds of state sovereignty, immunity and impunity on what should be non-negotiable accountability for international crimes. We hold that had it not been for the people’s attempt to wrest the law away from states, those eight decades of effort would have failed.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court has, in particular, played a decisive role in drafting and creating State consent for the Prosecutor’s power to initiate investigations and the prohibition of sexual and gender-based crimes.2 Article 44(4) of the Rome Statute is just one institutionalised form of the Court’s ongoing reliance on NGOs, and the CICC’s intense engagement with the Court and with international criminal law writ large is an eloquent testament to the core importance and sheer vitality of civil society participation.
Just Access will celebrate the first anniversary of its establishment on 17 July 2021, which is also the 23rd anniversary of the Rome Statute’s signing. On the eve of the International Criminal Justice Day and the birthday we share with the Rome Statute, we are honoured and proud to recognise and thank the CICC for their historic role, for accepting us among its Members, and for helping us to take our first steps. We greatly look forward to the next 25 years at the least, and to working with CICC and all its Members. We cannot imagine more important work than giving voice to the voiceless and protecting those who need it most, and we are certain that international criminal law advocacy and the framework created by the CICC is the most effective way that we can do our best. Tireless in love and justice, we must help our better angels prevail.
1 JIB/JAB: The Laws of War, 27 June 2021, available at https://jibjabpodcast.com/episode-24-judge-chile-eboe-osuji-on-the-icc-the-concept-of-attack-and-more/.
2 Gabriela Augustínyová and Aiste Dumbryte, “The Indispensable Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Creation and Functioning of the International Criminal Court”, Czech Yearbook of International Law V (2014), 39-60.