Chapter I. Legislative texts concerning the legal status of the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations


InternatIonal CrImInal Court. PresentatIon of grounds for authorIzIng ratIfICatIon of the statute by sPaIn1


on 17 July 1998, the united nations diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries, convened for the purpose by the united nations and meeting in rome, adopted the rome statute of the International Criminal Court. the statute was signed by spain, and by a number of other countries, at the end of the Conference, on 18 July.

the rome statute represents the culmination of a series of endeavours and negotiations which date back virtually to the birth of the united nations, and which have followed, one after the other, over the past half-century, with varying degrees of intensity.

thus, following the precedents of the nuremberg and tokyo international military tribunals, set up in 1945 and 1946 to judge the main german and Japanese leaders accused of “committing crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity”, the united nations general assembly adopted, in 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of genocide and set up a special Committee to draft the statute of a permanent international criminal jurisdiction, which eventually prepared a draft, between 1951 and 195 .

under the terms of a 1971 decision, the International Court of Justice at the hague considered that the 1948 Convention against genocide was part of customary international law. later, the general assembly of the united nations, in its resolution 074 (XXVIII) of december 197 , declared that crimes against humanity would be prosecuted and could not remain unpunished. this combination of efforts in the area of legislation, doctrine and jurisprudence established the foundations for the effective protection of human rights within the international arena, breaking with old theories of criminal law, such as the principle of territoriality in criminal law, based on the notion of national sovereignty, which yields to a new principle of universal jurisdiction.

after the end of the cold war, the united nations returned to the theme, appointing the International law Commission to draft the rome statute of the International Criminal Court and the draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and security of man-kind. these draft laws were presented by the Commission in 1994 and 1996, respectively, and, after they had been revised, expanded and completed by a Committee composed of government representatives, provided the working foundation for the work of the united nations diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries held in rome.

In parallel with this process, a number of other initiatives have emerged over recent years. They are less ambitious, but of great significance as precedents for the International Criminal Court. there are, for example, the International tribunals created in 199 and 1994 by the united nations security Council for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former yugoslavia and in rwanda, respectively.

as a result of all these endeavours, the rome Conference, after wide-ranging and intense negotiations, was able to complete the drafting of the statute, whose text was approved, with 120 votes in favour (including all countries in the european union, and the majority of Western countries), 7 against and 21 abstentions.

the purpose of the rome statute is to create the International Criminal Court, as a judicial body that is independent, but related to the united nations, with permanent status and potentially universal scope, and with the authority to prosecute crimes of major significance to the international community as a whole.

because the four international criminal courts that have been created thus far have represented a response...

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