For Ukraine, the Rome Statute ratification means coming of age internationally. It defines whether the country is mature enough in terms of international law – experts


Kyiv, December 15, 2015. Today, December 15, the Parliament for Global action (PGA) will hold in Kyiv the seminar on the implications of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ratification by Ukraine. “The PGA will assist and offer its knowledge and expertise to promote the ratification”, explained Swedish MP and the PGA member Margareta Cederfelt at the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The workshop will take place against the backdrop of the Verkhovna Rada decision to postpone the adoption of the draft law that was to set the basis for the Rome Statute ratification. “Instead, the new constitutional amendments suggest the Rome Statute will be ratified only after three years following the new Constitution come into force,” underlined lawyer Iryna Dumych, who is a member of the Center for Civil Freedoms and “Advocacy Agenda” platform. According to Ms. Dumych, the Parliamentary Committee on European integration doesn’t see the Rome Statute ratification among Ukraine’s priorities for cooperation with the EU. Meanwhile, this is one of the conditions in the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. Mark Pritchard, who is an MP from the UK and PGA member, suggested that three years delay would be “very highly unusual” when compared to other nations around the world. “I think Ukraine wants to be seen as a serious, measured, calm international actor […]. It is about setting the direction for Ukraine: is it a mature international actor when it comes to international law. It is time for Ukraine to send the right not the wrong signal,” he argued, adding that ratification shouldn’t be seen only in connection with the conflict on Donbas. “It is important to see it for what it is – which is Ukraine coming of age internationally”. Along with that, Mr. Pritchard convinced that the Rome Statute is modern day extension of Geneva Conventions being a very up-to-date interpretation on the rules of armed conflict. “Of course you can protect yourself without the Rome Statute. But the international law is developing, so it is the question what modern measures do you use to protect your rights,” added an MP from Austria and PGA member Petra Bayr.

Apart from being the country’s obligation before the EU, Margareta Cederfelt believes that the Rome Statute is a very strong tool for prevention of the possible future crisis and war crimes. “Ukraine has the very right to protect itself and its people. But there need to be stronger legislation to do so and the Statute is the part of it,” she stated. Mr. Pritchard supported this statement. “The Statute shouldn’t be seen as seeking to prosecute only. But as something seeking to defend as well,” he elaborated. The Rome Statute also has a preventive option. According to the Netherlands’ Ambassador to the ICC Jan-Lucas van Hoorn, executive authorities are more likely to think twice before doing something that happened on Maidan if their country is a part of the Statute, thus the bloodshed can be avoided.

Mr. van Hoorn believes that no one in his country will understand the delay in the ratification, especially in the light of the upcoming referendum in Netherlands on Ukraine’s Association Agreement. “We are setting pro-campaign for people to vote in favor of this agreement. But if it turns out now that [Ukraine refuses to] meet this condition, it will be very hard to convince our people that there is a progress in establishing the rule of law and independent court system in your country,” he explained.