International Criminal Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2005

– in the House of Lords at 3:26 pm on 9th December 2005.

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Photo of Lord Triesman Lord Triesman Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My Lords, this order was laid before the House on 23 November 2005 together with the Explanatory Memorandum now required for all affirmative statutory instruments. The order will confer privileges and immunities, in accordance with the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court, on representatives of states participating in the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court—the ICC—and its subsidiary organs, and on representatives of states and intergovernmental organisations invited to Assembly meetings.

The International Criminal Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2004 gave effect to the majority of the obligations that flow from the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court. However, a provision to implement Article 13 of the agreement could not be included in the 2004 order, as the necessary legal powers were not available at the time. The International Organisations Act 2005, which came into effect on 7 June 2005, amends Schedule 1 to the International Criminal Court Act 2001. That amendment provides the power to confer privileges and immunities on persons attending meetings of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute and its subsidiary organs, as required by Article 13 of the agreement.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court was established in July 2002 by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998, and it was inaugurated in March 2003. The International Criminal Court is the world's first permanent court with the power to try serious international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The court is now operational and has begun investigations into events in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Darfur in Sudan. The United Kingdom is a strong supporter of the ICC and was one of the first states to sign the agreement, on 10 September 2002, immediately following its adoption by the first Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.

The order will allow the United Kingdom to give full effect to Article 13 of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court 2002. I am satisfied that the order is compatible with the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. This order is important, and I hope—as I always do on these occasions—that it will prove non-controversial. I hope that it will receive the full support of your Lordships. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 23 November be approved [11th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Triesman.)

Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Deputy Leader, House of Lords, Spokesperson in the Lords, Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

My Lords, we are also strong supporters of the International Criminal Court. Under many conditions, we might have doubts about extending diplomatic privileges and immunities so far to those attending an assembly. But, given the delicacy of the work in which the International Criminal Court is engaged, it clearly is important to give it the fullest possible diplomatic privileges and immunities. We welcome from these Benches the arrest of the Croatian who has been accused of war crimes, which removes one of the doubts that many of us had over the accession negotiations with Croatia. The more that we can extend the reach of international law against international war crimes, the better. Therefore, we welcome, as far as we can, the strengthening and development of the International Criminal Court.

Photo of Lord Triesman Lord Triesman Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for their support. It is a good moment. I echo the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace. The capture and arrest of Gotovina, and the inevitability that he will face justice, must be a moment that we all cherish in the development of international justice.

On Question, Motion agreed to.