Bern, Press releases, 26.06.2013

Earlier today, the Federal Council launched the consultation procedure on the ratification of the amendments made to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 10 and 11 June 2010.

On the occasion of the Review Conference held in June 2010, two significant elements were added to the Rome Statute. The first would allow the International Criminal Court to exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. This means that highly placed individuals would be held responsible for arranging an act of aggression which constitutes a manifest violation of the prohibition on the use of force in the Charter of the United Nations.

The second would extend the scope of the offences considered war crimes. The use of poison or poisoned weapons, gas and similar substances and devices as well as “dumdum bullets” would be declared an offence not only in an international armed conflict, but also in an non-international armed conflict.

The punishment of these crimes is an important contribution to the peaceful coexistence of nations, the promotion of the respect of human rights and the alleviation of need and poverty in the world, all of which are core objectives of Swiss foreign policy according to the Constitution. For this reason Switzerland has been in favour of bringing these crimes under the ICC's jurisdiction.

For the amendments to the Rome Statute to be able to enter into force for Switzerland, they must be approved by the Federal Assembly and ratified by the Federal Council. The ratification does not entail any adaptation of Swiss criminal law.

The ICC is a permanent institution based in The Hague in the Netherlands and is responsible for punishing the most serious crimes under international law (currently genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, to include aggression in the future). The ICC was established by the Rome Statute, which has so far been ratified by 122 States including Switzerland. Switzerland has always shown strong commitment to the ICC and currently provides a Vice-President to the Court's Assembly of States Parties.

The consultation procedure will run until 20 October 2013.

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