His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands opening the Rome Statute as a symbolic act to officially open the ICC Permanent Premises. Pictured here: H.E. Mr Sidiki Kaba, President of the Assembly of States, ICC President Judge Silvia Fernández and H.M. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. © ICC-CPI
Yesterday, 19 April 2016, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands officially opened the permanent premises of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "Court") during a ceremony hosted by the ICC President, Judge Silvia Fernández, and H.E. Mr Sidiki Kaba, President of the Assembly of States Parties (“ASP”), and attended by honoured guests including H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. As a permanent judicial institution created to fight impunity for perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the ICC now has a permanent home.
In a symbolic act to open the premises, the King of the Netherlands opened the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty. The act triggered a short film highlighting the crimes codified in the Rome Statute and demonstrating how the world is uniting to end such crimes. The Residentie Orkest performed during the ceremony, and a group of children from various regions of the world paid a special tribute to all those building a more just world.
During the ceremony, ASP President Kaba remarked: “It is a historic day but also a day of hope for all victims of mass crimes in the world”. “I am delighted that it is here, in The Hague, crossroads of international justice, that we could mark a milestone in the consolidation of our common efforts to make the Court more effective and credible in performing its noble mission”, he added.
Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki-moon stated: “The inauguration of the permanent premises of the International Criminal Court is a milestone in global efforts to promote and uphold human rights and the rule of law.” He added, “It is in all our interest to help the Court achieve its objectives. Its success will be the legacy we leave for future generations.”
ICC President Judge Silvia Fernández spoke of the importance of the new premises for the efficiency of the Court’s daily work and for fulfilling its mandate: “With its innovative solutions, the building supports the judicial mission of the ICC. It helps us hold fair and transparent trials. It helps us protect witnesses and facilitate the participation of victims in our proceedings. In sum, it helps us safeguard the independence of the Court, its credibility, and, ultimately, its legitimacy.” She continued, stating: “International criminal justice is intended to ensure that mass atrocities are addressed and further crimes are prevented. Indeed the credible likelihood of accountability is key to their deterrence. This mandate is relevant everywhere, even in places where international crimes may be unimaginable today. History teaches us that no country, no region is immune to war, conflicts or atrocities.”
Remarks were also delivered by H.E. Mr Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Mr Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of the city of The Hague, and Mr William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Over 350 guests attended the event, including representatives of States and other international tribunals and organisations, members of NGOs, representatives of the academia and media.
The ICC finalised its move into its new, permanent premises on 14 December 2015. The Court required a functional purpose-built premises to effectively fulfil its mandate in the fight against impunity for perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The design of the building reflects the transparency of the institution and its innovativeness. It combines striking architecture with stringent security measures, while showcasing best practices in sustainability and respect for nature, within the natural dune landscape between The Hague and the North Sea. The building complex consists of six towers that are connected on the ground and first floors and offer over 1,200 workplaces. The largest tower, the Court Tower, accommodates three courtrooms and the media centre.
Since its opening on 1 July 2002, the ICC was temporarily located in two buildings on the other side of The Hague. In December 2007, the Assembly of States Parties decided that the ICC should be provided with newly built permanent premises. In 2010, following an international competition, the Danish firm schmidt hammer lassen was selected to design the new premises and in October 2012 Courtys, a consortium of the VolkerWessels subsidiaries Visser & Smit Bouw and Boele & van Eesteren, was chosen for the realisation. Construction work started on 16 April 2013.
- Watch the official opening: