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This Day in History

Australian History

Thursday, June 20, 2002. :   Australia agrees to ratify the International Criminal Court.

     The International Criminal Court is an international court that meets in The Hague, Netherlands. It was established as a permanent court to preside over matters of crimes of serious concern to the international community such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The concept of an international tribunal was proposed by the Commission of Responsibilities during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, following World War 1. The idea of a permanent international court to deal with atrocities was raised again on various occasions, and gained further impetus after the United Nations was established. The Cold War hindered further development, despite two statutes being drafted by the International Law Commission (ILC) at the request of the UN General Assembly. However, the need for an international court became more pressing as stories of atrocities committed in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda emerged in the 1990s.

The founding treaty of the ICC is the Rome Statute. On 17 July 1998, 120 States representing all regions of the globe adopted the Rome Statute, and with this act, the International Criminal Court was established. At the 1998 conference, Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, was a strong advocate of the Rome Statute, and moved for an early ratification to the treaty. Legislation allowed for the Rome Statute to come into effect once 60 States had ratified it. Australia agreed to ratify the ICC on 20 June 2002.

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