Vatican Contributes to International Criminal Court

Tribunal to Judge and Punish War Crimes and Genocide

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican offered a symbolic contribution to the Trust Fund set up by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to support the establishment of the International Criminal Court.



The announcement by the Vatican's observation mission at the United Nations was published Monday on the occasion of the court's birth in The Hague, following the adoption of its statute during the U.N. Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries, held in Rome in July 1998.

The tribunal is the first permanent court responsible for judging and punishing war crimes and genocide.

The Vatican mission's statement recalled the words of John Paul II in his message for the Jan. 1, 1999, World Day of Peace: "A positive sign of the growing willingness of states to recognize their responsibility to protect victims of such crimes and to commit themselves to preventing them is ... the specifically approved statute of an International Criminal Court, the task of which will be to identify guilt and to punish those responsible for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and crimes of war and aggression."

"This new institution, if built upon a sound legal foundation, could gradually contribute to ensuring on a world scale the effective protection of human rights."

"An offense against human rights is an offense against the conscience of humanity as such, an offence against humanity itself," the press statement continues, quoting the Pope's message.

The United States and Russia have opposed the creation of the International Criminal Court. U.S. officials say they don't want American soldiers, diplomats, or others caught up in politically motivated prosecutions. They also object to the fact that the court claims power to prosecute people from the United States and other countries that have not ratified the court treaty.