Subject: ETGOV: Statement during Assembly of States Parties of ICC



Mr. President, distinguished Delegates,

It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to inform the first meeting of the Assembly of States Parties for the International Criminal Court that East Timor deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute with the Secretary General on Friday.

The Assembly is well aware of East Timor’s long-standing commitment to the establishment of the International Criminal Court. East Timor’s representatives have attended the last three meetings of the Preparatory Commission, and have expressed the intention of the new Government of East Timor to make the accession to the Rome Statute a matter of the highest priority. This intention has now been realized: The Rome Statute has become the first international treaty which East Timor has concluded since it became an independent country on 20 May.

East Timor is uniquely placed to recognize the importance of an International Criminal Court. Its recent troubled history has made it painfully aware of the need to end impunity for all grave crimes wherever they occur in the world to use the substantive provisions of the Rome Statute in its own domestic courts.

We are resolute in our conviction that lasting peace can only be bought with effective justice. By acceding to the Rome Statute we undertake to strive ensuring that justice is available to all.

There has been much discussion during this meeting of the Assembly of States Parties concerning the conclusion of bilateral agreements with a non-State Party regarding the surrender of persons to the International Criminal Court. The Assembly is aware that the East Timorese Foreign Ministry has inidicated the process for such an agreement on behalf of East Timor. As representatives of East Timor, we have been concerned by the negative reaction which this has incurred.

I would like to make it clear that, contrary to reports, the process has not reached any conclusion. As with all other international agreements, under the Constitution of East Timor, this agreement requires both Parliamentary approval and Presidential promulgation before it can come into force. Neither of these have been received to date. We anticipate that the agreement will be the subject of considerable discussion in the East Timorese Legislative Assembly.

Having clarified the position regarding the stage which this agreement has reached, I wish to make the following observations: East Timor is a country which is barely three months old. It has achieved independence after a long and difficult struggle. It is entering into a new and fragile stage of existence, and is learning the business of government as it does so.

East Timor can not forget the role that the international community played in assisting it to achieve its long-desired status. In particular, it owes a debt of gratitude to the United States, which to a leading part in assisting East Timor on the road to independence, and in ensuring that United Nations peacekeeping forces were deployed in an attempt to protect the people of East Timor in 1999.

East Timor needed the support of all members of the international community in the past; it will continue to need their support in the future. History has proved that this tiny half-island, with a population of only 800.000 people is uniquely vulnerable. This new country is trying to protect its interests and its people in the new world in which it has found itself since May 20, 2002.

Before I conclude I would like especially to thank “NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE” for the advise and support it has provided to the East Timorese Government on the process of accession to the Rome Statute. I would like to thank the “COALITION FOR THE ICC” for its activities of promoting the ICC to the civil society in East Timor. I would also like to thank Professor Bassiouni and De Paul University for assisting East Timor in sending a delegation to this Assembly.

Mr. President, distinguished Delegates,

I am greatful for this opportunity to share with the Assembly our pleasure that our new country is now becoming a State Party to the Rome Statute. By so doing we reaffirm East Timor’s commitment to justice for all. East Timor joins with the States Parties in their earnest desire to ensure that in the new world of international justice, crimes which shock the conscience of mankind do not go unpunished.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

see additional background on East Timor and ICC

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