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ICC Week: Calls for the Ratification of the Rome Statute in Nepal

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Calls for Nepal to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and end impunity formally concluded in Kathmandu on 7 July.  With human rights groups, political parties and government officials signalling a commitment to embrace the principles of the ICC, attention will now redouble on what the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers decide.
Calls for Nepal to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and end impunity formally concluded in Kathmandu on 7 July. With human rights groups, political parties and government officials signalling a commitment to embrace the principles of the ICC, attention will now redouble on what the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers decide.

“ICC Week” in Kathmandu drew to a close on 7 July by ending the weeklong programme for addressing the relevance of the International Criminal Court for Nepal. Organisers comprising the National Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC), Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee (HRTMCC), the Coordinator of Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), and approximately 50 human rights organisations and defenders of Nepal, used the event to exert pressure on the government to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. These organisations participated in a number of discussions throughout the week ranging from democratic governance to bi-partisan political cooperation for implementing the ICC. In a state where there is little political agreement, all participants were nonetheless united in common support for ending the existing regime of government impunity, which is viewed as the key factor behind Nepal’s continued reluctance to accede to the Rome Statute.

The programme began with INSEC Chairperson, Subodh Raj Pyakurel encouraging participants to continue plying government officials to accede to the Rome Statute and to spread the benefits of ratification. Raising awareness about the human cost of government impunity was identified as one of the most important vehicles for effecting change. Former National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member, Sushil Pyakurel, released a translation of the Rome Statute in Nepalese to disseminate the importance of the ICC and expressed the need to continuously remind the Government of the House of Representatives support for ratification in 2006.

On the second day of the programme, political leaders and human rights organisations collaborated efforts to issue an edict to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala challenging him to start the process of ICC ratification. The Honourable Minister Ram Chandra Paudel stated that this strategy was part of “a moral as well as political commitment of all political parties.”1 In response to the efforts made on Day 2, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sahana Pradhan indicated that she would discuss matters with the Prime Minister, but warned that further progress would depend on positive corroboration with Inter-Ministerial Task Force Report and endorsement from the Council of Ministers. Days 4, 5 and 6 were devoted almost exclusively to the necessary initiative of creating multi-party alignment in support of the Rome Statute.

Leaders of the Communist Party Nepal (UML), Nepali Congress (Democratic), United Left Front (ULF-N), the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP), the Nepal Sadvawana Party-Anandidevi (NSP-A) and the People's Front Nepal (PFN) each gave assurances that they would table motions of ICC support at their respective party meetings.

On 25 July 2006 the House of Representatives issued an unanimous directive to the government to become a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The directive, in conjunction with the support of the Asian Network for the ICC (ANICC), the Coalition for the ICC (CICC), Odihkar-Bangladesh, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and INSEC, prompted government officials in August to respond by affirming their commitment to the accession of the ICC. Tentative steps towards ratification soon followed through the creation of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force focusing on the possible implications of Nepal under the ICC.

However, the Government’s full commitment to ratification is still subject to doubt as there has been no decision made on the findings from the Inter-Ministerial Task Force Report. Additionally, it should be appreciated that even a positive finding in the report in lieu of ICC accession does not automatically guarantee ratification. The Treaty Act of Nepal, 1990 vests the possible ratification or accession of bilateral and multilateral treaties, agreements, conventions or protocols in the hands of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. Although the House of Representatives has expressed a positive desire to approve possible ratification, without the initial promptings of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers there is little the House of Representatives can do in the interim.

Thus far there are 139 state signatories and 104 ratifications to the Rome Statute of the ICC. As the first permanent global court capable of trying individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; the ICC represents one of the most important advances toward ensuring that the gravest violations against humanity no longer remain unpunished. In Nepal, where disappearances and political assassinations are common and indemnified under the auspice of “security”, a move towards the accession of the ICC would herald a cultural transformation towards the respect and dignity of the person. Moreover, since Asian states are underrepresented at the ICC, the Senior Legal Advisor for the International Justice Project at Amnesty International, Christopher Keith Hall, reasons that ratification would signify that Nepal “…believes justice and accountability for the worst human rights violations are central to the rule of law and a stable, just system of governance.”2 It should also be appreciated that a Nepalese accession would provide a beacon to other Asian states contemplating making the positive step to ICC ratification.

The closing of ICC Week coincided with demonstrations on King Gyanendra’s 60th birthday. The Maoist-aligned Young Communist League (YCL) and several other political party cadres protested in front of the royal palace demanding political reform and an end to state-endorsed impunity. The coinciding events provide a poignant illustration of the harsh realities of Nepalese civil unrest and an important analytical link between the continued political violence and the culture of impunity and disrespect for human rights that is rife amongst government security forces. It is now up to the government to adhere to demands made during the ICC Week and accede to what should be a brighter future for human rights and democratic fruition in Nepal.

For more information on the details of ICC Week please visit:

1 ICC WEEK Day Two 
Political leaders affirm commitments for the ICC

Nepal: Human rights organizations urge Nepal’s interim Government to ratify the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court