Statement: 9 December 2016

Statement of the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2016

Tomorrow, the International Criminal Court joins the rest of the world in marking Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948.

The theme of this year's Human Rights Day is "Stand up for someone's human rights today". It is an important message. The effective protection of human rights requires that we look not only after our own rights and interests, but also those of others, in particular the most vulnerable.

The International Criminal Court embodies the commitment of nations from all continents to protect all victims against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In the first place, such crimes are investigated and prosecuted by States, but if they cannot or will not do so, it is the ICC's task to step in.

The Court has made significant achievements since 2002 in prosecuting crimes that are an affront to human rights such as the use of child soldiers, sexual violence in conflict, attacks on civilians and the destruction of cultural property.

Victims are at the heart of the ICC's work. They can participate in the Court's proceedings with the assistance of legal aid and they have the right to request reparations for the harm they have suffered. The Trust Fund for Victims associated with the ICC has assisted more than three hundred thousand victims with physical and psychological rehabilitation as well as material support.

The ICC is central to the global system for the protection of human rights, and victims around the world look to it in hope of justice. But its reach is not yet universal, as many States are yet to ratify the Rome Statute, its founding treaty. More support is needed, so that one day all people may enjoy the same protection of the law. Meanwhile, the Court's work continues, day in, day out, with investigations, trials, appeals and reparations, standing up against impunity, in defense of human rights.

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected].

You can also follow the Court's activities on YouTube and Twitter.