“Victims now have a voice”: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay commemorates International Criminal Justice Day

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Today, 8 July 2013, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights H.E. Navi Pillay delivered a keynote lecture to mark International Criminal Justice Day in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Quoting Nelson Mandela, who said that “Things always seem impossible until you do them”, High Commissioner Pillay stated: “Making the impossible possible is what international criminal justice is about. Not so long ago, the creation of a permanent international criminal court seemed impossible. Now that the Court is here, and here to stay, many of the challenges it faces in turn seem impossible to resolve… We can, and we must, move away from a culture of impunity for gross human rights violations and other international crimes, towards a culture of accountability and responsibility. This is possible”.

She also stated that one of the successes of the Rome Statute and the ICC was that victims now have a voice in the international criminal system. “I applaud the fact that the Rome Statute and the practice of the ICC decisively place the victims of serious human rights abuses and international crimes at the centre of the criminal justice system”, she stated. “Yes, the victims of international crimes have rights, too: the right to justice, the right to truth, the right to remedy and the right to reparation”, she said.

H.E. Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Vesela Mrđen Korać, Ambassador of Croatia to The Netherlands and Facilitator of The Hague Working Group at the Bureau of the Assembly on Strategic Planning, and H.E. Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) also spoke at the event.   

H.E. Ambassador Tiina Intelmann stated that the Day of International Criminal Justice was an opportune moment “for all actors to renew their commitment to the cause of eradicating from our shared earth the scourge of the most serious crimes that shock the conscience of mankind, and of ensuring justice for the victims of these crimes”.

H.E. Ambassador Vesela Mrđen Korać added: “The Day of International Criminal Justice is a great opportunity to emphasise our common responsibility: of the Court; States Parties and civil society in promoting the fight against impunity, the Rome Statute and its implementation”. 

In his closing remarks, H.E. ICC President Sang-Hyun Song called the commemorations symbolic of the “solidarity, compassion, determination and knowledge necessary to build a global culture of justice”. He stated: “The price of the acts listed in the Rome Statute is so high, and their impact so detrimental, that all must be done to suppress them. For the sake of the future, and for the sake of all those who have suffered at the hands of injustice, we must persevere”.

17 July is the Day of International Criminal Justice and marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC. The day commemorates the landmark steps that the international community is taking to reach the common goal of global justice, and an opportunity for those who support justice around the world to make their voices heard.


For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected].


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