Robinson supports demand for stronger UN measures against war criminals


The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, has lent her name to an international demand that the UN increase its efforts in bringing war criminals to justice, especially through the current tribunals on Rwanda and the Bosnian war. A group of leading statesmen yesterday issued a statement pressuring the UN to bring war criminals to justice, and to establish a permanent International Criminal Court. This is a concept which has been explored for some years and due for concrete action at a conference in Rome next year.

The action is sponsored by No Peace Without Justice, a non-profit organisation founded three years ago which has the European Commissioner for Fisheries, Consumer Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Ms Emma Bonino, as one of its strongest supporters.

The following is the text of the statement, and its signatories: "We, the undersigned:

whereas the number of unpunished war crimes and crimes against humanity is increasing in a large number of countries;

whereas international public opinion has recognised the need to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice; whereas there is an urgent need to create an objective and impartial international judicial system to establish jurisdiction for the rendering of judgments on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, irrespective of where such crimes are perpetrated, or of the perpetrators;

whereas considerable progress has been achieved in this regard thanks to the creation of the ad hoc International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia land Rwanda; whereas, however, this progress has been placed in doubt by the low number of persons pursued and brought to justice;

whereas on December 17th, 1996, the 51st General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution demanding that the Preparatory Committee should complete its work in order to permit the convening of a diplomatic conference in 1998 for the adoption of a convention to establish an International Criminal Court;

whereas despite this positive development, it will be necessary to overcome the strong opposition of certain states in order to ensure the establishment of an international criminal court;

whereas the Italian government has already declared its readiness to host the diplomatic conference of plenipotentiaries for the inauguration of the court; launch a solemn appeal to the members of the General Assembly of the United Nations:

to do everything in their power to ensure that persons pursued for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda are arrested and brought to justice;

to renew the mandate of the Preparatory Committee and to convene, in 1998, in Rome, a Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries, charged with establishing at this occasion, the International Criminal Court.

Signed: Giuliano Amato; Oscar Arias Sanchez; Jean Bertrand Aristide; Robert Badinter; Raymond Barre; Emma Bonino; Boutros BoutrosGhali; Adriaan Bos; Jimmy Carter; Antonio Cassese; Lord Dahrendorf; H.H. Dalai Lama; Gijs de Vries; Jacques Delors; Abdou Diouf; Mark Eyskens; Malcolm Fraser; Sonia Gandhi; Richard Goldstone; Felipe Gonzalez; Pauline Green; Jean Francois Hory; Jose Ramos Horta; Alija Izetbegovic; Alfa Omar Konar; Bernard Kouchner; Serguei Kovalev; Catherine Lalumiere; Rita Levi Montalcini; Graca Machel; Wilfried Martens; Pierre Maurois; Danielle Mitterrand; Queen Noor of Jordan; Marco Pannella; Shimon Peres; Alfonso Perez Esquivel; Alonso Puerta; Mary Robinson; A.N.R. Robinson; Michel Rocard; Joseph Rotblat; Claudia Roth; Adolfo Suarez; Mario Soares; Leo Tindemans; Gaston Thorn; Gore Vidal; Richard von Weiszacker; Elie Wiesel.