27th International Conference
of the Red Cross and Red Crescent


Report by the Chairman (Prof. Dr. Horst Fischer) and the Rapporteur (Dr. Bosko Jakovljevic)

A. Background and Topic of the Workshop

One of the most interesting documents distributed at the Conference is the result of the People on War survey. It represents the voices of those who are regularly unheard or only represented by others. The results do underline the importance of international criminal justice both for the further prevention of war crimes as well as for the punishment of those who committed serious crimes. The existence of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in this regard also reflect the perceptions of the victims of war. On the other hand the evaluation of the value of the Rome Statute would be limited if one would not take into account the steps which must be undertaken to implement it. Olara Otunno in August 1999 referred to the implementation process as a revolution. The revolution he has been referring to is based on the concept of complementarity which obliges parties to the Statute to look carefully into their national law systems and to discuss and decide about necessary changes and adjust the national law accordingly. This process is rather complicated, taking into account the number of rules which must be implemented and the penal concepts which must be reconsidered. The process is even more complicated, as since the adoption of the Rome Statute it takes places on several interdependent levels with distinct objectives. The PrepCom in New York is presently defining elements of crimes in a huge diplomatic effort on the interstate level. States have started to undertake a major review of their criminal law and criminal procedural rules. This process takes place under high public pressure, not only for governments, but also for the Movement. The Council of Delegates preceding the 27th Conference responded to this development by adopting a resolution on the topic.

B. Objectives

This situation led the organisers to define the objectives of the workshop as an attempt - to describe the process and recent developments on the international and national level, - outline some interesting aspects of the process and the problems related to the changes which might be necessary to the national law systems, - highlight some of the interdependencies and - propose concrete steps how governments and Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies can interact on the issue of implementation.

C. Format

The topic was introduced by three lecturers from different areas. Herman von Hebel from the Netherlands reported about the most recent developments in the PrepCom. Prof. Rao Penna from Singapur described the steps which must be undertaken by governments to implement the Rome statute on the national level. Helen Durham from the Australian Red Cross outlined the role of National Societies in raising awareness on the implementation procedure and problems. About 100 delegates attended the workshop, which, including the lively discussion, lasted for two hours.

D. Main Topics

The presentations and the debate focused on four main items: The development of the elements of crimes in the PrepCom and how they can be used in the international and national implementation process Which specific actions must be undertaken to review the national law systems and adjust it to the requirements of the Rome Statute How the Movement and the public at large can be educated on the content and the scope of the Rome treaty and how more specialised target groups can be interested for the implementation process How certain states have already implemented or are about to implement the Rome statute and how they can provide assistance to other states in their implementation process.

E. Observations by the Chairman and the Rapporteur on the results of the workshop

According to the observations by the Chairman and the Rapporteur of the workshop there seemed general recognition of the importance of the Rome Statute and the following aspects: The work of the PrepCom being of major importance to all states in the ratification process and the results being of major importance as guidelines for national prosecutors. A thorough legal audit of the national law systems, including participation from all relevant ministries, science and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is necessary to fulfill the obligations under the Rome Statute. The Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers, as well as other target groups, should be informed adequately on the content and the relevance of the Rome Statute, to be able to participate in the national debate on ratification and implementation. Co-operation on the international level between national ministries, institutions, in particular Non-governmental organisations, will be of major importance for a coherent international implementation of the Rome Statute The advisory service of the ICRC is of major significance in assisting states in the implementation process.

F. General observation on the relevance of workshops for the International Conference

According to the observations by the Chairman and the Rapporteur workshops are an excellent instrument in providing relevant and actual information to delegations at the International Conference and in promoting debates on some of the key issues.


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