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Australia votes for International Criminal Court

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Australia votes for International Criminal Court

The Australian Government welcomes the adoption by the Diplomatic Conference in Rome today of a Statute to establish an International Criminal Court.

The creation of an International Criminal Court to deal with the most serious crimes of international concern has been a long standing goal of this government and Australia was one of 120 countries that voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Statute.

"This is a great victory for those of us who have fought long and hard to ensure that the " perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against humanity would not be able to act with impunity," the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, said. "Today's vote is the culmination of 5 weeks of tough negotiations and years of preparatory work before

that. It is a great achievement of which members of the world community can be justifiably proud."

Mr Downer announced on international Human Rights Day on 10 December 1996 that the Court's establishment was one of this Government's prime multilateral and human rights objectives. To underline Australia's support for the Court, Mr Downer addressed the opening session of the Diplomatic Conference on 15 June and there underscored the

importance that Australia attached to the creation of a credible and effective Court.

The Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, had emphasised the significance of the negotiations in speaking at the Red Cross Conference on International Law in July 1997. "The adoption of this Statute fulfils a commitment by countries to ensuring that persons who commit gross violations of international law be brought to justice," Mr Williams said. "The international community has seized the opportunity to advance the rule of law by the establishment of the International Criminal Court."

Australia played an active and constructive role throughout the negotiating process. In particular we chaired a like-minded group of over 60 countries all of whom were strongly committed to the establishment of an effective Court which could be widely supported.

In supporting the establishment of the Court, Australia has shown its commitment to future generations that we are serious about the rights of victims - and the responsibility of the international community - to see justice done and to see potential perpetrators of international crimes deterred in the future.

We will, of course, need now to carefully examine the Statute in accordance with our usual treaty process. The Statute will require 60 countries to ratify before it will come into force.

Media contacts: Innes Willo.x, Mr Downer's Office, mobile 0419 206890 Nicholas Harford, Mr Williams' Office, mobile 0419 423 965

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