The Hague, May 24, 2011 (FH) - The President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sang-Hyun Song, on Tuesday declared: "as the Rome Statute system increasingly becomes the world's instrument of choice in the suppression of atrocity crimes, Arab States remain critically underrepresented in the ICC".

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Jordan is the only Middle East state that ratified the Treaty, while only two members of the Arab League (Djibouti and the Comoros) did the same.

In his opening statement of an International conference about the ICC in Doha (Qatar), President Sang-Hyun Song did his best to reassure Arab states.

"The ICC poses no threat to state sovereignty - on the contrary, the Court was created by nation states, is governed by states and the only way the Rome Statute can be amended is by the decision of states", he explained.

He also welcomed Tunisia and Egypt's declarations in favour of a ratification of the Rome Treaty. On February 3, 2011, Tunisia's interim government decided to ratify the Treaty. Instruments of ratification still need to be deposited in New York.

As for Egypt, it seems to be more complicated. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nabil Al-arabi, is a former judge at the International Court for Justice (ICJ). He announced in April that Egypt would ratify the Rome Treaty.

However, since then Nabil Al-arabi has been chosen to become the Secretary General of the Arab League, which has strongly criticized the ICC for issuing arrest warrants against Sudanese Head of State Omar al-Bashir. That could turn the tide.

At last, several Arab States have so far refused to ratify the Treaty waiting for a definition of the term "crime of aggression" to be adopted. The ICC can try suspects of genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of war and crimes of aggression, but this last point is still theoretical. States had agreed in June 2010 on a definition of the "crime of aggression" but they still disagree on how the matter should be referred to the Prosecutor.


© Hirondelle News Agency