The Preparatory Committee for the International Criminal Court (ICC) was addressed Sept. 25 by Jozias van Aartsen, foreign minister of the Netherlands, who told the committee that preparations in the Netherlands, where the ICC is to be located, are progressing rapidly to ensure that the court could begin operations from its very first day, which he said could be as early as the summer of 2002.

Aartsen unabashedly used the tragedy of the terrorist attacks to promote the ICC, going so far as to use language reminiscent of the “new world order” by calling for an “international legal order.” Referring to the attacks he said, “We emerge, more convinced than ever of the need to strengthen the international legal order and the fight against universal crimes. Where better to begin our renewed effort than in that same city of New York?” A UN report on the meeting reveals that he said, “More than ever, the importance of the ICC was clear to all. Universal crimes demanded a universal answer.”

Aartsen noted that the 30,000 square metre building which would house the ICC was expected to be finished by 2007. However, he said, interim premises would be available from the first day of the court’s existence.

On June 29, 2000, Canada gave royal assent to the ICC in Bill C-19, agreeing to accept and enforce in Canada all the decisions of the court, including enforcing the payment of fines and reparations imposed on any Canadian convicted by the ICC.

C. Gwendolyn Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, says “one of the main concerns” with the ICC is that it is “not only a court to deal with established war crimes, but it is also a human rights court.”

She warns that while “the court is supposed to deal with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the definitions of these crimes are so breathtakingly elastic and wide open to manipulation, the court’s jurisdiction has become extremely wide-ranging.”

Pro-lifers worry that the ICC’s recognition of “forced pregnancy” could make it a crime to prohibit abortion. Landolt worries that, “The powerful, independent and unaccountable ICC prosecutor … has jurisdiction to investigate any alleged offence on the complaint of any state, individual or non-governmental organizations (NGO) anywhere in the world. The prosecutor can lay charges not only against states but also against individuals, including heads of state and government officials, as well as leaders and employees of institutions, such as churches.”

Pro-family observers at the UN have noticed how feminist NGOs released documents in March 2000 which set out how the ICC will be used to restructure family life and religious practices world-wide.

Landolt also expresses concern about the use of the term “gender” which is not limited to male and female because the compromise definition qualified gender within “the context of society.” Landolt warns, “It is understood that as a result of this definition, those who oppose homosexual/lesbian practices might well find themselves under indictment and prosecution by the ICC in the future.”