MAURO POLITI e GIUSEPPE NESI
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
A challenge to impunity
This volume brings together the papers delivered at an international
meeting held at the University of Trento, Italy, in May 1999, a few months
after the UN Diplomatic Conference on the Establishment of an International
Criminal Court (ICC). Some of the leaders of the Rome negotiations and
eminent scholars met in Trento - an environment where nobody had to worry
about negotiating - to discuss the results of the Rome Conference and the
future prospects of the ICC.
The idea for the Trento meeting dates back to late 1997, when the UN General Assembly decided to convene the Diplomatic Conference in Rome on 15 June to 17 July 1998. Initially no one knew whether the Rome Conference would be a success or a failure. The goal was to approve the text of a Statute that would establish a permanent, independent International Criminal Court for the purpose of trying and punishing the perpetrators of unspeakable atrocities. While such a Court had been a dream of the international community since the founding of the United Nations, a UN Conference to establish the ICC was not called until the late 1990s. Even then, the Rome Conference got off to a rocky start, confirming all the complexities and difficulties that had emerged in earlier negotiations. More than a month was dedicated to what at times seemed like an interminable series of discussions: until 17 July 1998, when on a hot Roman night the large majority of States participating in the Conference voted to approve the Statute. Those who were there that night knew that they were living an historic moment.
There is no doubt that the adoption of the Rome Statute represents a milestone in the development of international criminal law. For the first time in history, those responsible for crimina iuris gentium will now be aware of the fact that they could have to stand trial before an independent international Tribunal created ex ante facto and linked to the UN system. After the Conference had concluded, however, additional work needed to be done to integrate the Statute in view of its entry into force. To this end, a Preparatory Commission was set up to address specific issues such as the elements of crimes and the rules of procedure and evidence. Furthermore, a provision was made that amendments to the Statute could be proposed seven years after its entry into force. At the same time, the debate among politicians, diplomats and scholars over the prospects of international criminal justice could be resumed on new basis.
The University of Trento and the Autonomous Province of Trento were pleased to offer their facilities to help this debate evolve and support the organization of an international meeting on the contents of the Statute and the future of the ICC. We would like to thank those who attended the Trento meeting, those who supported it, and the students of the Faculties of Law at the University of Trento and other Universities, who followed the meeting with genuine interest and enthusiasm.
The law students of today are the lawyers of tomorrow. They will practice law in an era when the Statute has entered into force, the Court has become operational and, hopefully, the violators of international law are punished. It is for this reason that we dedicate the present volume to them.
New York, Trento