Statement by Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations on agenda item 159: Establishment of an International Criminal Court in the Sixth Committee of the 54th session of the General Assembly
New York, 22 October 1999
Bangladesh had welcomed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. We are participating in the work of the preparatory process with the belief that the Court would be instrumental in deterring genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as establishing individual accountability of offenders.
We are convinced that if allowed to work in its full capacity, the potential of the Court to promote human rights would be immense. But to be effective, the Court has to be universally accepted and must have the independent authority to enforce its verdicts.
We attach particular importance to the Court in view of the fact that Bangladesh herself was a victim of genocide during her liberation struggle in 1971. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had expressed her country’s commitment to become a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC in her keynote address last May at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference which provided a strong fillip to the establishment of the Court. During her recent visit to New York, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed the Statute personally in New York on 16 September 1999 which is indicative of Bangladesh’s commitment to the principles and goals of the Court.
We have embarked upon the ratification process which involves difficult technical matters and important legal implications at the domestic level. There may be need for providing Bangladesh and other Least Developed Countries (LDCs) with technical cooperation to enable them to complete the process of ratification as well as in future implementation of the Statute. In this regard, I welcome those delegations that have offered to share their expertise with respect to adoption of implementing legislation.
We are happy with the work of the first two sessions of the ICC Preparatory Commission. I would like to extend our appreciation to Ambassador Philippe Kirsch for his effective stewardship of the PrepCom and to the Coordinators for the Working Group on Rules of Procedure and Evidence and Working Group on Elements of Crime for their useful work.
I would like to also thank all contributors to the Trust Fund for supporting the participation of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the PrepCom. The trust fund, however, is sufficiently depleted and can no longer cover entirely the cost of participants from LDCs thus standing in the way of universal participation in the establishment of the Court.
We recognize that we have to intensify our work to meet the 30 June 2000 deadline for finalizing the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Elements of Crime. Three meetings of the PrepCom by next year as well as inter-sessional meetings could be useful in fulfilling its mandate in accordance with resolution F adopted by the Rome Conference.
Bangladesh believes that the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Elements of Crime should respect fully the letter and spirit of the Rome Statute in order to ensure fairness and effective functioning of the Court. Furthermore, the Elements of Crime should describe in clear terms the crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court and should take into account international humanitarian law.
Bangladesh welcomes the decision of the PrepCom to establish a working group on the crimes of aggression. We believe that aggression is a serious violation of the Charter principles and must be addressed by the Court.
Before I conclude, let me highlight the need for dissemination of information on the ICC Statute and progress towards establishment of the Court. In this context we recognize the important role played by the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court and pay tribute to their enduring commitment and dedication. Their efforts will contribute significantly in increasing global awareness about the ICC and will be important in securing the sixty ratifications needed for the operationalization of the Court.
The Rome Statute was only the beginning. Its momentum would have to be sustained. We hope that in the coming months, we shall be able to complete our work to establish an effective and independent International Criminal Court.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.