Humanity’s avenger; the global lawman–that’s what Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been called.
For human rights advocates, the creation of the ICC represents the fulfillment of a goal that began with the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials for Nazi and Japanese war criminals. Established in 1998 by an international treaty in Rome, the ICC was created to provide justice for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes when national systems fail. It is, in many ways, a court of last resort for victims–a permanent instrument of justice to replace the ad hoc tribunals set up to deal with Yugoslavia and Rwanda. One hundred and ten states have ratified the Rome Statute, but there are notable outliers: Israel, Russia, China, India and the United States.
As Chief Prosecutor for the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo has opened investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan and the Central African Republic. In March, 2008, the court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the first-ever indictment against a sitting head of state for war crimes and crimes against humanity. More recently, just las month, Moreno-Ocampo asked judges to approve a formal investigation into post-election rapes, murders and deportations in Kenya.
A former Argentine prosecutor and Latin American President of Transparency International, Moreno-Ocampo was elected in 2003 by the more than 70 countries which ratified the ICC’s Founding Charter. In these times when we remain locked in a mindset that military might–or even torture–is a path to security, the ICC is new to our world but as a global institution it is already fulfilling its founding promise. The ICC, under the leadership of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is making important strides and demonstrating itself as a new model to build a global community. Moreno-Ocampo and the ICC show us how justice can be seen as a strength of society, not a weakness.
Listen to Moreno-Ocampo’s remarks:
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