Credit: Nations Online
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Asia and Pacific
Despite the active participation of many Asia and Pacific governments at the Rome Conference, meetings of the Preparatory Commission and Assembly of States Parties, as well as current representation at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by Judge Sang-Hyun Song of the Republic of Korea and Judge Fumiko Saiga of Japan, the region remains significantly underrepresented at the ICC. To date, only 17 States, including Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Japan, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Vanuatu have become States Parties to the ICC. Although the Salomon Islands and Thailand have signed the Statute, they still need to ratify the ICC treaty. Actively working toward increasing ratifications of the Rome Statute remains a key priority for the Coalition in this region.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring the effective implementation of the Rome Statute into national law, ICC legislation has been enacted in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Samoa, and significant government strides have been carried out in Afghanistan, Mongolia, Fiji and Timor Leste. In many of these cases, partner civil society groups have worked closely with governments through roundtables and discussions, commenting on and enriching the drafts. This crucial step of implementation will ultimately help States strengthen the rule of law and develop sustainable national legal systems which apply the highest standards of justice.
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Out of the 24 countries in Asia, only 9 (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Maldives, Mongolia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Timor-Leste and Japan) have ratified the Rome Statute. Asia is a region that remains significantly under-represented at the Court, although civil society has been strong in advocating for international justice and the rule of law across the continent. Of these States Parties, only the Republic of Korea has enacted ICC implementing legislation. Afghanistan is taking appropriate steps in coordination with civil society groups to initiate their implementing legislation process and Mongolia set up a working group on the ICC to discuss and follow up on ICC implementation some years ago, but the process has been stalled for some time. Cambodia and Timor-Leste have similarly moved slowly in effectively carrying out their emergent obligations under the Rome Statute. Only the Republic of Korea has ratified the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court (APIC) in the region. Although Mongolia is a signatory, it still needs to move forward and ratify this important instrument that will ensure the independent and effective operation of the ICC in practice.
Australia and New Zealand assumed a leadership role in the region by promptly ratifying the Rome Statute and implementing their obligations under the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) treaty into their national law. With 16 States in the Pacific, and only 6 other ratifications or accessions to the Rome Statute in the region (Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Samoa and Vanuatu), much work remains to be conducted to propel the ICC issue back into the political agenda of many of these Island States and encourage them to become States Parties to this historic human rights mechanism. Nevertheless, some important strides have been made in relation to implementation. In late 2007 Samoa enacted its ICC implementation Act. Fiji also has a draft ICC implementation bill.