Civil Society Urges Thai Government to Consider Ratification of the Rome Statute for 2013
New York, USA / Bangkok, Thailand-The Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a global network of civil society organizations in 150 countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC, urged the government of Thailand to join the International Criminal Court in line with its expressed commitment to uphold human rights, rule of law and international justice. Thailand is one of the Coalition's focus countries for its Universal Ratification Campaign (URC) for the month of February 2013, a campaign launched to call upon different countries each month to join the Rome Statute-the ICC's founding treaty.
In a letter dated 7 February 2013 to Thai Prime Minister H.E. Ms.YingluckShinawatra, the Coalition urged the government of Thailand to take the next step in the process that it began by signing the Rome Statute in 2000. "As one of the first signatories in the region, it is high time Thailand fulfil its intention to be part of the ICC. While becoming a member of the Rome Statute of the ICC is not a guarantee to ending impunity, it can serve as a deterrent factor as the country continues to face conflicts and challenges of impunity," said Evelyn Balais-Serrano, regional coordinator for Asia-Pacific of the Coalition. "It is time for Thailand to move on and take the lead again in the region."
Thailand has been a venue over the years for various regional and international events on the ICC and international law, including the 5th Princess MahaChakriSirindhorn Lecture on International Humanitarian Law where former chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, Hon. Richard J. Goldstone, was the key lecturer. In 2011, the International Conference on "The Protection of Human Rights through the International Criminal Court as a Contribution to Constitutionalization and Nation-Building" was also held in Bangkok with ICC Vice-President Judge Hans Peter Kaul as the keynote speaker.
"It is encouraging to see that among the latest ratifications to the Statute are countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Philippines, Maldives and Vanuatu," said Brigitte Suhr, director of Regional Programs of the Coalition. "We encourage Thailand to join the ICC to strengthen the voice of Asia in the international justice arena. Thailand's contribution is crucial as Asia remains most underrepresented at the Court."
The Coalition noted the various initiatives taken by members of the Thai Parliament and NGOs in recent years to raise awareness about the Rome Statute. Seminars, lectures and other ICC related activities have been held, including government and civil society participation in the Assembly of States Parties in both 2011 and 2012. In recent years, several members of the Parliament also visited the ICC headquarters for exposure to the workings of the Court.
"It is the desire and aspiration of the Thai people to achieve lasting peace. We want to be part of the ICC because we are committed to justice and we want all those responsible for grave crimes to be accountable to the victims. We cannot have peace until we get justice," said BoonthanVerawongse, director of Peace and Human Rights Resource Center and co-convenor of ICC Working Group-Thailand. "We call on our government and other forces in our society to unite in the name of peace and justice."
The Coalition has been following developments in Thailand and is aware of the issues and concerns that hinder it from pursuing ratification. In recognition of legal challenges that have surfaced with regards to compatibility between the Rome Statute and Thai constitution, the Coalition calls on Thailand to assess these concerns carefully and consider drawing examples from states parties that have successfully overcome similar compatibility issues.
To date, 121 states worldwide have joined the Rome Statute, Guatemala being the most recent. While the past two years have been witness to increased participation from Asian states within the Court-Bangladesh ratified in March 2010, the Philippines in August 2011, Maldives in September 2011, and Vanuatu in December 2011-the Asia-Pacific region still remains underrepresented at the ICC, with only nine states parties to the Rome Statute from the Asia region, and 17 within the larger Asia-Pacific region. It is noteworthy that countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal, Tonga and Tuvalu are actively working towards completion of their respective ratification processes within the coming year. Thailand's ratification of the Rome Statute would therefore provide an important example to other states in the region.
--Courtesy of Brudirect.com