17 July 2008
Address by Ms. Ruth Wijdenbosch, MP
ChairpersonPresident of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committees, National Assembly
of the Republic of Suriname
Member of the Executive Board of Parliamentarians for Global Action
President of the Assembly of States Parties, His Excellency Bruno Stagno
Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon
President of the International Criminal Court, His Excellency Jugde Kirsch and other distinguished Officials of the Court
Your Excellency and friend, the Honourable Arthur Robinson
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to have received an invitation to address this distinguished audience on behalf of The National Assembly [and the Government] of the Republic of Suriname and Parliamentarians ofor Global Action (PGA), a network of members of Parliament from 123 countries from all regions of the world.
Since 1998, every July 17th has been a day of celebration for PGA,our Organization, but to stand before you, for the first time as a Member of Parliament representing a State Party, is a matter of profound joy to me.
I entered politics in 1987 with the high priority to work together with other Members of Parliament to restore the Rule of Law and democracy in my country after very difficult years of military dictatorship.
In 1992, I was appointed by the President of the Republic of Suriname, His Excellency Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, as convener for hHuman rRights Iissues, acting as intermediary between the President and the families of the murdered civilians during the dictatorship.
In that capacity and as a human rights activist I supported every effort to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity that had occurred during that time.
But, that was not enough.
We are still confronted, on almost a daily basis, with the most serious crimes threatening peace, security and the well-being of the world.
The international community is in Suriname and the rest of the world are in great need of an independent, permanent and, non political InstitutionC to ourt of the magnitude of the International Criminal Court to protect the individuals, [delete: international community] iif the national criminal jurisdictionnational judicial systems isare not able or not willing to do so.
During my ten years of campaigning for Suriname, with the assistance of PGA, to accede to ratify tthe Rome Statute we were confronted with legislation and policies adopted by that the United States of AmericaS adopted which are against the spirit of this Instrument.
in 2002 imposing “sanctions” against nations joining the Rome Statute without entering into a Bilateral Non Surrender Agreement with the US.
AllWe, members of PParliament of Suriname from the Opposition and the Government, together with our colleagues from several States Parties of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Kenya , Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands and many others, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Kenya, Mali, Niger, South Africa, Tanzania and Samoa strongly support the goal of no impunity effectively opposing to such an agreement on the basis that it would have undermined the goal of fighting impunity and the principle of equality of all before the law upon which the ICC is basedhas been. built.
I am, therefore, very satisfied that our principled position to protect the integrity of the Rome Statute, among other factors, contributed , gave a decisive contribution to the decision of the United States Congress and Administration’s decision to substantially modify itsthe legislation and policies of the US with respect to the decision of its partners to participate in the ICC system.
Mr. Mr. President, of the Assembly of States Parties:
Today is a day of celebration for my country since we are the 107th State Party toof the Rome Statute. It is a day of celebration for the world community for having an institution like the International Criminal Court which applies to the very principles that can ensure, - at both domestic or international level - , the building of interactions between individuals, institutions and nations based on the rule of law.
[delete: that no alleged perpetrator of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes shall remain unpunished.]
We are aware that there are still challenges ahead for the ICC.
As a parliamentarian I do support straight talking. We know that some are of the opinion that arrest warrants issued by the Judges upon the investigations of the Prosecutor might jeopardize or bring harm to the outcome of the peace processes. Or those who question the pertinence and necessity of such an institutions dismayed at the big challenges we faces with respect to international justice.
But let it be clear that we, as States Parties, committed ourselves to an independent International Criminal Court with precisewell-defined obligations., We and we must now give the Prosecutor our full support to do whatever is lawfully needed to bring justice to those victims who put their life in our hands.
The Milosevic and Charles Taylor cases have proven that ‘postponing justice’ is detrimental to peace and that affirming the notion of individual criminal responsibility is conducive to sustainable peace based on universal human rights, including the right to justice. In our understanding of the applicable law of the Rome Statute, the right timing for an arrest warrants is whenever the evidence is available to prosecute, to search for the truth and to prepare for a fair trial.
The Statute applies today to the territories of 107 countries and their nationals, 85 UN Member States, including 40 signatories to the Statute, are still non Parties to the Rome Statute: yet,and in some cases the Statute non Partiesapplies to them, for example Sudan, as a consequence of a determination by the UN Security Council that the situation constitutes a threat to international peace.
We are trying to reach the full universality of the Court. In the meantime, tThe Court that has had already had an important impact in deterring the commission of ffuture atrocities by changing the behavior of those who make decisions, as we in PGA have been directly informed.
It has had an impact in reviewing rules of engagement of military forces, in sending the message that now there is a permanent Court with jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of international concern.
But in order to give to the Court its full potential to meets its mandate, I therefore appeal to the 85 MUN members States of the United Nations, including 40 signatories toof the Rome StauteStatute, of all thosethat who have not yetnot joined, it yet to do so, in order to reachstrengthen the universality and strengthen the effectiveness of thise new system of international criminal justice.
Parliamentarians for Global Action isParliamentarians for Global Action is deeply indebted towith one Statesman of my region, the Caribbean., more than with any other of its Members from the very first day in which the establishment of a permanent ICC became a political priority in the agenda of our global network. This Statesman is the HonorableMr. Arthur N.R. Robinson of Trinidad and Tobago, the member of the PGA Board in the late 1980ties.
A true icon of the Caribbean and of the world!
who created the International Law and Human Rights Programme and the ICC Campaign of our network in 1989.
Mr. Robinson, you inspired all of us with your commitment and determination., and wWe are here to continue the cause for human rights and justice that you brought to the inter-parliamentary and inter-governmental dimensions which and that is still unitesing us, today.
As I said in my presentation on the 6th of June during the Paramaribo Regional Parliamentary Seminar on the ICC to my dear colleagues of Parliamentarians for Global Action from the Americas and the Caribbean:
I quote “When on July 17th Sur weiname will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Rome Statute, you will be able to say to your constituents, friends and family: I have been in Suriname, the 107th State Party toof the Rome Statute!”.” end quote.
Today, that promise has been fulfilled: Suriname was not in Rome in 1998, but in 2008 the Rome Statute is in Suriname, with full force of law.