The first International Day of Criminal Justice

On 17 July 2011, we are celebrating the very first International Day of Criminal Justice. The date commemorates 17 July 1998, when the international community reached an historic milestone by adopting the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court. The adoption of the Rome Statute was a momentous step towards ending impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern - genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression - which threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world.

In the Netherlands, we have a long tradition of promoting the international rule of law, which, uniquely, forms an integral part of our Constitution. I need only mention Hugo Grotius. The Peace Palace. The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. The Hague has earned its place as the centre of international law, a city of peace and justice, and the home of the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, to name but a few.

Where peace and justice are concerned, human rights must always be our first priority. Ensuring that human rights are respected is of course the basis for any democratic nation. As a small, trading nation, we in the Netherlands place special importance on the rule of law, which provides us with the necessary security and protection to ensure our ongoing growth and prosperity.

Hugo Grotius's "Mare Liberum” (The Free Seas) of 1609, which laid the foundations for international law, advocated the importance of international law in promoting free maritime movement and trade which have proved so instrumental in the history of the Netherlands. What Grotius wrote more than four hundred years ago, still holds true to this day. I am pleased to commemorate this important anniversary and hope that this day will inspire and reinvigorate us in making our vision of international justice a reality.

Pim Waldeck
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands