Washington, District of Columbia
17 July 2015
Founding President International Criminal Bar
To all my wonderful colleagues who are dedicated to the ideal and development of the international justice system, let me say a very special “thank you” and offer my warm wishes on the Day of International Justice. I want to extend a particular
thank you to Luis and Laura and their whole team. Their relentless efforts have kept the ICB going for many years now in spite of numerous challenges.
The International Criminal Bar (ICB) was created in Montreal on June 15 2002 so it is now 13 years old. The ICB is entering into its years of adolescence and turbulence. Let us all resolve together to make them years of growth leading to institutional maturity.
Our world is living through difficult days at the moment. In these conditions, the dream of a fully functional, universal, effective and fair international justice system often seems like it is fading away. But we need to keep our shared dream alive and strengthen out belief in the ideal of a better world animated by justice for all, with equality of arms and also access to justice in a fair and effective international legal system.
In the last few years, my professional path has diverged somewhat from my past work on the International Criminal Court. But my passion for justice remains strong, inspiring me to continue on the path of change. I am now involved in the very fast growing field of “business and human rights,” which connects with international criminal law and international justice in more than one way.
Business and human tights is a movement to ensure responsible business conduct and the respect and promotion of human rights everywhere in the world, in every economic activity and for all concerned parties: workers, miners, local communities and small farm owners, men, women and children, in full equality and with the full protection of international human rights law.
The newest development in this field is the establishment of an intergovernmental working group by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva to set up a treaty process that got started on July 6 of this year. This reminds me – very clearly – of the first days of the preparatory commissions at the UN in New York in the mid-nineties that led to the signature of the treaty creating the International criminal court on July 17 1998 in Rome and the fever of civil society, with thousands of NGOs working relentlessly for years, side by side with States Parties to see the creation of the International Criminal Court. It was described at the time as an impossible dream – after 40 years of Cold War – but it was nevertheless achieved through determined common effort.
In fact, it was achieved in a record time and this institution represent real progress in the enterprise of building a human and institutional arsenal to combat impunity and promote international standards of Justice.
Let us celebrate and continue to devote all our efforts to the emergence of a better world, with better sharing of resources and wealth and also sustainability of development to ensure that our planet survives its plagues and continues to thrive for generations to come.
And let me conclude, on a personal note, by offering my very best wishes to the two recently elected Co-Presidents of the ICB, David Lévy and Roxanne Helme.
Long Live the ICB!