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Australia to sign International Criminal Court Statute

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FA 149 9 December 1998


Australia will today sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court at the United Nations in New York.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, M r Alexander Downer, announced the decision to sign at a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Conference in Sydney which is marking the 50th Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Australia can bejproud of the role it played throughout the difficult negotiating process which led to acceptance of the Statute. The establishment of the Court will be a great achievement for Australia and like-minded countries who have fought to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against humanity are brought to justice," Mr Downer said.

"It was on International Human Rights Day on 10 December 1996 that I announced that the Court’s establishment was one of the Government’s prime multilateral and human rights objectives," he said. "It is, therefore, fitting that we have chosen celebrations surrounding the same anniversary date to make our announcement on signature."

The Attorney-General, Mr Daryl Williams, said the decision to sign the statute was a welcome development. "Australia is recognised internationally as having made a significant and valuable contribution to the adoption of the Statute. Signing the Statute is both a fulfilment of Government policy and a practical demonstration of Australia’s support for the International Criminal Court," Mr Williams said.

The Statute was adopted by a five week Diplomatic Conference in Rome on 17 July this year. Australia was one of the 120 countries which voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Statute. To date, 62 countries have signed the Statute.

Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Penny Wensley, will sign the Statute in New York later today.

The Ministers said the Statute represented a significant step towards realising the goal of creating an International Criminal Court to deal with the most serious crimes of international concern, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They said the Court would stand as a strong deterrent to potential perpetrators of such crimes.

Media Inquiries For: Mr Downer - Innes Willox (02)6277 7500 Mr Williams - Nicholas Harford (02) 62 77 7300

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet.