The president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Commonwealth secretary-general have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen and develop cooperation to support the implementation of international criminal law.
The signing of the MoU by Judge Sang-Hyun Song and Kamalesh Sharma took place at the Commonwealth Law Ministers' Meeting (CLMM) in Sydney yesterday (13 July).
The ICC president commended the Commonwealth secretariat for its work in promoting the development and implementation of international criminal law.
"National jurisdictions are the first line of defence against impunity for mass atrocities. The ICC is a safety net, a court of last resort," said Song. "For justice to prevail, we need to develop the national and international elements in parallel. The Commonwealth is uniquely placed to facilitate that process."
Sharma said the ICC plays a central role in achieving justice for victims and preventing impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other forms of aggression. He said the agreement between the Commonwealth and the ICC would help promote the rule of law on the domestic front through capacity-building measures in international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
"This marks a new chapter in our work in the delivery of capacity-building measures such as developing training and assistance programmes for national judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice officials in the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law," Sharma said.
"The conclusion of this Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates our deep-rooted commitment to the rule of law. It is a fundamental Commonwealth value within the new humanism we espouse. In concrete terms this means providing mutual support in upholding human rights, in providing access to justice for victims and in fighting impunity, particularly for perpetrators of those most heinous atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity."
The MoU calls for the exchange of knowledge and materials, participation in meetings and conferences at all levels, the development of training and assistance programs for lawyers in Commonwealth countries, and support for states as they enshrine international criminal law into domestic law.