The President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Judge Theodor Meron, today delivered remarks on the role of international and national courts in prosecuting crimes under international humanitarian law at the Expert Seminar on Respect for International Humanitarian Law – the Role of Magistrates in French-speaking African countries, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Seminar, co-organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, gathered judges, magistrates and other leading legal experts from French-speaking African countries to examine the role of local judiciary in ensuring respect for and application of international humanitarian law.

Speaking at the Seminar, President Meron highlighted the contributions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to the development of international humanitarian law. He emphasized that the two Tribunals “have helped to both exemplify and solidify the international community’s commitment to principles that the worst of crimes cannot and shall not be ignored, that principled accountability is imperative even where the worst crimes are at issue, and that ensuring respect for the rule of law is an essential step toward achieving lasting peace in the aftermath of conflict and to the effective protection of human rights”.

President Meron also stressed the essential role played by national efforts to ensure principled accountability, noting that the Statute of the Mechanism itself reflects the importance placed on national judicial processes. According to President Meron: “A consistent approach to accountability for violations of international law the world over, and especially by national courts, is the only way to ensure equality and impartiality of treatment, to ensure that the complementarity principle is successfully implemented, and to ensure fundamental respect for the rule of law.

The Seminar is part of a series of high-level events and expert meetings entitled Generating Respect for the Law, organised by the ICRC in Geneva and other key locations throughout 2016. The aim of the series is to generate discussions on a broad range of issues concerning the respect for the rule of law.