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An Intergovernmental Regional Conference on the International Criminal Court organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and by the radical organisation "No Peace Without Justice", under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, gathered representatives of fifteen countries of Central and Eastern … Europe in Prague on 7 and 8 December 2001.
The Conference was opened by Emma Bonino, "roaming ambassador" of the International Criminal Court, in the course of an inaugural ceremony on Friday 7, together with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Pavel Vosalik, the French senator and former Minister of Justice Robert Badinter, the Belgian Ambassador Bernard Pierre and the president of "No Peace Without Justice" Sergio Stanzani.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will have jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Its Statute, adopted in Rome in 1998 at the end of a Diplomatic Conference, has been already signed by 139 countries but it requires sixty ratifications by national parliaments to enter into force.
To date the United Nations Secretariat has received 47 such ratifications.
The Intergovernmental Conference in Prague, mirroring the 22 "Regional Conferences organised by No Peace Without Justice", aimed to hasten the ratification process in a specific region of the word.
In Prague, the main target was the EU candidate countries, so that they may be part of the first 60 countries that will create the International Criminal Court.
The Conference also discussed the specific steps that need to be undertaken to ensure the prompt and effective entry into force of the Statute, including the adoption of national implementing legislation that will allow national authorities to cooperate with the Court.
In this respect, Emma Bonino declared: "We are conducting a race against time.
Our challenge is to ensure that the Statute of the Court enters into force before 17 July 2002, the proposed date for the "World Day of International Criminal Justice".
On 17 July 2002, in fact, the world will celebrate the fourth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and also the forthcoming Spanish Presidency of the European Union (January - June 2002) is committed to the "campaign for sixty ratifications".