Strengthening the International Criminal Court
January 30, 2004 | Press Release | Human Rights

MacArthur has awarded more than $1.7 million to three organizations for their efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court.

The International Criminal Court is one of the most important new institutions to be developed within the last 100 years, said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. The Courts accomplishments over the next year will be critical to its long-term potential as a force to deter gross human rights abuses and to bring to justice those who commit them. It is essential that the first few cases, perhaps starting with the Democratic Republic of Congo, be well crafted and result in a just decision. It is also important that the momentum continue beyond the 92 countries that have so far ratified the Treaty of Rome. All signatories will need to bring their national legal systems into harmony with international standards on such matters as the extradition of past officials and the laws involving life imprisonment.

The International Criminal Court came into existence on July 1, 2002, after years of efforts by governments, nongovernmental organizations and individuals to establish a permanent international court to deal with the most heinous of human rights abuses, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Court was designed to help bolster national justice systems, and in cases where governments are unable or unwilling to act, the Court can provide an alternative mechanism for seeking justice.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a group of nearly 2,000 nongovernmental organizations from around the world that helped bring the ICC into existence, received $1.35 million to continue its efforts to help ensure the Court is an effective and independent institution. Funds will help the Coalition push for universal ratification of the Rome Statute, work to ensure that signatories bring their national legal codes into accordance with international law, and help to put in place transparent election procedures for key officials in the Court. This also includes helping to raise awareness of the Court at both the national and international levelsamong key officials, law enforcement and the general publicas well as developing a stronger base for support of the ICC. The Secretariat of the Coalition is housed at the office of the World Federalist Movement in Brussels, Belgiuman international citizens movement working for justice, peace, and sustainable prosperity.

A grant of $196,000 was made to the Nigeria Coalition on the International Criminal Court to help build awareness of the Court in Nigeria and to ensure the government adheres to its obligations as a signatory of the Rome Statute. As part of the Foundations support for the establishment of a system of international justice, grants are being made to help advance ICC efforts in Nigeria, Russia, and Mexico, where the Foundation has offices. The Nigeria Coalition is an umbrella body of more than 30 national nongovernmental organizations that are working to raise awareness of the court within the national government and among national and local nongovernmental groups. Its members are also helping Nigerias judiciary bring relevant sections of its legal system into accordance with international law, and linking Nigerias efforts to support the Court with those in the region and internationally.

Redress Trust Limited, based in London, received a grant of $162,000 for work to make sure victims of human rights abuses are able to access and participate in the investigation of crimes and other proceedings of the International Criminal Court. Redress Trust, established in 1992 by a victim of torture, has a history in providing legal and advisory services to survivors of torture to help them seek justice and reparations. The grant funds will be used to help Redress provide information to victims of human rights violations seeking justice through the ICC; to link international networks of lawyers and advocates of torture survivors and local victims groups; and to research options and make recommendations for ways that the ICCs Office of the Prosecutor can work more closely with individual victims during the investigation of crimes.

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