Fighting impunity: Federal Council adopts dispatch on amendments to the Rome Statute

Press release, 29.05.2019

At its meeting on 29 May 2019 the Federal Council reaffirmed its commitment to fighting impunity for the most serious international crimes by adopting the dispatch on ratification of the amendments of 14 December 2017 to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). These amendments propose to extend the ICC's jurisdiction by adding the employment of biological weapons, blinding laser weapons and weapons that cause injury by fragments undetectable by x-rays to the list of punishable war crimes.

In December 2017, the states parties to the Rome Statute decided to add the employment of these three types of weapons to Article 8 on war crimes. As a state party to the Rome Statute, Switzerland supported this decision.

The employment of these three types of weapons had already been made a punishable offence under Swiss law in 2011. Switzerland was also instrumental in having the employment of these weapons prohibited under international humanitarian law. The amendments to the Rome Statute thus reinforce existing prohibitions by making these acts also punishable as war crimes before the ICC. This broadening of the ICC's scope of jurisdiction also strengthens the international criminal justice system.

By ratifying these amendments, Switzerland would contribute to the prevention of war crimes and the better protection of civilians and persons participating directly in hostilities. Switzerland would also send out an important signal that the employment of these weapons should be a punishable offence and be prosecuted as a war crime also beyond its borders. The amendments have yet to be passed by the Federal Assembly before being ratified by the Federal Council.

Fighting impunity for the most serious crimes is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving lasting peace and stability. In pursuing this objective, Switzerland is making an important contribution towards the peaceful co-existence of peoples, respect for human rights and the alleviation of need and poverty in the world, in keeping with its constitutional foreign policy objectives.

The ICC is a permanent institution based in The Hague. It deals with the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. The basis of the ICC under international law is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 17 July 1998. Switzerland ratified the Rome Statute on 12 October 2001. There are currently 122 states parties to the Rome Statute.


Further information:

Rome Statute (de, fr, it)
International criminal justice
International Criminal Court


Dispatch on the ratification of the amendments of 14 December 2017 to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (This text is a preprint. The version published in the Federal Gazette is legally binding.) (de)(pdf, 458kb)
Amendments of 14 December 2017 to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in relation to war crimes (This text is a preprint. The version published in the Federal Gazette is legally binding.) (de)(pdf, 331kb)


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