The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) took place this week from 23 to 24 May in Istanbul, Turkey. The event came together following consultations around the world on a number of agenda items. The International Criminal Court was among topics discussed during the two day conference, doing much to raise awareness for the crucial work of international justice in addressing humanitarian crises.
The WHS was convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).The summit had three main objectives:
- Reaffirmation of commitment to humanity and humanitarian principles;
- Initiating actions and commitments enabling both nations and communities to respond to crises; and
- Sharing best practices, helping to save lives around the world and place affected peoples at the center of humanitarian action.
The ICC and the Rome Statute system: a core responsibility
During a Tuesday roundtable entitled “Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity” at the WHS, and within the context of WHS core responsibility 2, several participants highlighted the significance of the ICC and the necessity to comply with the Rome Statute.
The session was co-chaired by Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger; Didier Burkhalter, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland; and Carlos Raúl Morales Moscoso, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala.
President Issoufou stated that Niger had ratified the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court following multiple serious humanitarian issues, including the displacement of populations in the wake of terrorist attacks. Niger, he declared, had arrested Boko Haram militants and would ensure they could be tried by the ICC. He went on to say: “This is something that all countries should do.”
Minister Morales Moscoso, meanwhile, stated that Guatemala would cooperate with the ICC and has been working on incorporating the Rome Statute into Guatemalan law. Several speakers also highlighted cooperation with the ICC as necessary to end impunity for the gravest international crimes.
The European Union (EU) was among the participants. The Council of the EU recently concluded that the EU and its member states would promote the ICC and accountability for core international crimes, including sexual and gender-based crimes, during the WHS.
Calls to advance justice
Several recommendations emerged from the WHS, in addition to states adopting national criminal laws based on the Rome Statute of the ICC. Mutual legal assistance was one such recommendation, echoing a point made during the EU Day Against Impunity event. Participants also called for increased access to justice for victims of sexual and gender-based crimes, which picks up from discussions during ICC’s Assembly of States Parties session last year.
Participants also expressed support for a Code of Conduct for the UN Security Council (UNSC) when dealing with situations of alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Significantly, they called upon the UNSC permanent members to refrain from using their veto power when mass atrocities have been ascertained, a recommendation that stems from an initiative by France and Mexico, which the Coalition has been following and supporting.
See what Coalition member Amnesty International had to say on Tuesday at the WHS.