On 14 November 2012, more than 500 high-level officials attended a ceremony held in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Ridderzaal (The Knights Hall) in The Hague (Netherlands), in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands.
“As we embark on the ICC’s second decade, let us celebrate our achievements and be prepared for the many challenges ahead of us. We all have different roles, mandates and backgrounds, but we have the same goal. Impunity for atrocity crimes must end. Accountability must prevail. Always and everywhere. To succeed, we must remain determined and united”,declared ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song, “ICC’s activities are having an enormous impact, not just on individuals prosecuted before the Court, but on the tens of thousands of direct victims, millions of people in the affected communities and societies, and indeed several billion people under the legal protection of the Rome Statute system”, he added.
On the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, the President of the Assembly of States Parties and the ICC President, representatives of States and international, regional and civil society organisations gathered to commemorate the Court’s achievements in the past decade.
“The ICC is indispensable in the prevention of crimes, the protection of people and the prosecution of perpetrators”, stated Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands Frans Timmermans. He also stressed the important role given to victims before the ICC and stated that “the Dutch government considers it crucial that victims receive support in building new lives after the traumas they have experienced”. On this occasion, Minister Timmermans announced that the Netherlands is donating half a million euros to the Trust Fund for Victims.
This event took place as the eleventh session of the Assembly of States Parties is opening in The Hague to last until 22 November 2012 and is tackling a number of issues critical to the Court’s work, including the adoption of its budget and the elections of some of its officials.
“The ICC changed the fundamental structure of international relations in a way that few international organisations have ever done. The 121 States Parties to the Statute have agreed that no one is above the law and allowed to enjoy impunity if committing international crimes. The era of impunity is gradually coming to an end”, stated President of the Assembly of States Parties H.E. Tiina Intelmann during the ceremony, reminding the States Parties that “the Court will not make it without constant day-to-day State Party support and cooperation”.
The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, entered into force on 1 July 2002.