The International Criminal Court (ICC) received the 2017 Stockholm Human Rights Award recognising the institution’s outstanding contribution to the rule of law and human rights at a ceremony this week.
The Principals of the ICC – President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and Registeur Herman von Hebel –accepted the Award collectively from His Majesty the King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf.
The Swedish Bar Association, International Bar Association(IBA) and ILAC bestow the Stockholm Human Rights Award annually in recognition of those advancing international justice and strengthening respect for human rights.
In front of a 1000-person audience, Prosecutor Fernández affirmed that “the idea of international law alone will not bring justice and respect for human rights. Hard work at the court and constant support from the international community are required. That is why the Stockholm Human Rights Award is highly meaningful. It is especially significant that it is given by highly respected organisations of the legal profession.”
“The Award to ICC is in clear recognition of the role they have played in combating impunity for atrocity crimes”, says ILAC President, Elizabeth Howe. Prosecutor Bensouda reminded the audience that the ICC was created as an “international independent permanent court to try crimes that are very serious. So serious, that we say they shock the conscience of humanity”.
Judge Fernandéz said that in fifteen years of existence, more than 14000 victims participated in the proceedings and the Trust Fund for Victims provided assistance for hundreds of thousands of victims.
In the Q&A session, Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the IBA, asked about criticisms and challenges faced by the ICC, especially regarding the African Union call for the withdrawal of their members from the ICC.
President Fernández explained that this “court is not targeting regions, countries or particular groups, but individual perpetrators of the gravest crimes of concern for international community and it is about protecting the victims of these crimes. Each and every state of this world has the responsibility to protect their own populations. The court is there as back-up. It is a last resort institution in order to step in when national states are not fulfilling their duty to protect, prevent and prosecute crimes”. Prosecutor Bensouda asserted that “most of the cases came to the court because African states have decided to refer to them to the ICC, such us Uganda, Mali, Ivory Coast.
Discussing ICC´s future challenges, Prosecutor Bensouda announced that this week the Office of the Prosecutor requested judicial authorisation to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those committed by members of the United States armed forces and by members of the CIA.