By Andreas Iacovides
Foreign Minister Kasoulides is right to highlight the commitment of Cyprus to the International Criminal Court on the occasion of International Criminal Justice Day. Judge Georghios Pikis served on the Court for six years and was well respected for his contribution to its jurisprudence. Cyprus was indeed among the first countries to ratify the amendments to the Rome Statute adopted in Kampala in 2010, including the amendment on the Crime of Aggression.
As recently as this week, a criminal complaint for war crimes against Turkey was filed in the ICC by MEP C. Mavrides requesting the Court’s prosecutor to open an investigation against individuals responsible for war crimes in Cyprus. Even though this is likely to encounter the applicable procedural limitations, it is a step long overdue.
It might interest readers to know that Cyprus has been among the active pioneers advocating the establishment of a permanent international criminal tribunal. The venerable Zenon Rossides has over the years been a proponent of this objective and in 1974 the Definition of Aggression was achieved, thanks to a large extent to his efforts and those of my colleague and friend Dinos Moushoutas.
More recently, as a member of the UN International Law Commission (1980-1996), I was active in the context of the item “Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind” in promoting the acceptance of international criminal jurisdiction and in particular in strengthening of the provision, already in the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, on the illegality of the establishment of settlers in occupied territory.
President Clerides in the 1993 CHOGM held in Cyprus, spoke in favour of the establishment of an international criminal court at a time when the very notion of such an institution was viewed with skepticism (except for some statesmen like Hans-Dietrich Gensher).
By the mid 1990s this notion gained momentum having been embraced by many non-governmental organisations. During the preparatory work in New York for the 1998 Rome Conference which adopted the ICC Statute, the relevant provision on the establishment of settlers in occupied territory as a war crime was proposed jointly by the delegates of Cyprus, Egypt, Switzerland and Greece and was incorporated into the Rome Statute.
Much of this material is examined more extensively in my book “International Law and Diplomacy” (2011), as well as in the relevant statements of the delegation of Cyprus in the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the UN General Assembly.