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Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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July 17 is the 198th day of the year (199th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 167 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1998, a diplomatic conference adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing a permanent international court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute) is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of March 2011, 114 states are party to the statute. Grenada will become the 115th state party on 1 August 2011. A further 34 states have signed but not ratified the treaty. Among other things, the statute establishes the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure.
Under the Rome Statue, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Thus, the majority of international crimes continue to go unpunished unless and until domestic systems can properly deal with them. Therefore, permanent solutions to impunity must be found at the domestic level.
Following years of negotiations aimed at establishing a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals accused of genocide and other serious international crimes, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes and the recently defined crimes of aggression, the United Nations General Assembly convened a five-week diplomatic conference in Rome in June 1998 “to finalize and adopt a convention on the establishment of an international criminal court”. On 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute was adopted by a vote of 120 to 7, with 21 countries abstaining. The seven countries that voted against the treaty were Iraq, Israel, Libya, the People’s Republic of China, Qatar, the United States, and Yemen.
On 11 April 2002, ten countries ratified the statute at the same time at a special ceremony held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, bringing the total number of signatories to sixty, which was the minimum number required to bring the statue into force, as defined in Article 126. The treaty entered into force on 1 July 2002; the ICC can only prosecute crimes committed on or after that date. The statute was modified in 2010 after the Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda, but the amendments to the statute that were adopted at that time are not effective yet.
The Rome Statute is the result of multiple attempts for the creation of a supranational and international tribunal. At the end of 19th century, the international community took the first steps towards the institution of permanent courts with supranational jurisdiction. With the Hague International Peace Conferences, representatives of the most powerful nations made an attempt to harmonize laws of war and to limit the use of technologically advanced weapons. After World War I and even more after the heinous crimes committed during World War II, it became a priority to prosecute individuals responsible for crimes so serious that needed to be called “against humanity”. In order to re-affirm basic principles of democratic civilisation, the alleged criminals were not executed in public squares or sent to torture camps, but instead treated as criminals: with a regular trial, the right to defense and the presumption of innocence. The Nuremberg trials marked a crucial moment in legal history, and after that, some treaties that led to the drafting of the Rome Statute were signed.
UN General Assembly Resolution n. 260 9 December 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, was the first step towards the establishment of an international permanent criminal tribunal with jurisdiction on crimes yet to be defined in international treaties. In the resolution there was a hope for an effort from the Legal UN commission in that direction. The General Assembly, after the considerations expressed from the commission, established a committee to draft a statute and study the related legal issues. In 1951 a first draft was presented; a second followed in 195] but there were a number of delays, officially due to the difficulties in the definition of the crime of aggression, that were only solved with diplomatic assemblies in the years following the statute’s coming into force. The geopolitical tensions of the Cold War also contributed to the delays.
Trinidad and Tobago asked the General Assembly in December 1989 to re-open the talks for the establishment of an international criminal court and in 1994 presented a draft Statute. The General Assembly created an ad hoc committee for the International Criminal Court and, after hearing the conclusions, a Preparatory Committee that worked for two years (1996-1998) on the draft. Meanwhile, the United Nations created the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) using statutes-and amendments due to issues raised during pre-trial or trial stages of the proceedings-that are quite similar to the Rome Statute.
During its 52nd session the UN General Assembly decided to convene a diplomatic conference for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, held in Rome 15 June-17 July 1998 to define the treaty, entered into force on 1 July 2002.
180 – Twelve inhabitants of Scillium in North Africa are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world.
1203 – The Fourth Crusade captures Constantinople by assault. The Byzantine emperor Alexius III Angelus flees from his capital into exile.
1402 – Zhu Di, better known by his era name as the Yongle Emperor, assumes the throne over the Ming Dynasty of China.
1453 – Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Castillon: The French under Jean Bureau defeat the English under the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is killed in the battle in Gascony.
1717 – King George I of Great Britain sails down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians, where George Frideric Handel’s Water Music is premiered.
1762 – Catherine II becomes tsar of Russia upon the murder of Peter III of Russia.
1771 – Bloody Falls Massacre: Chipewyan chief Matonabbee, travelling as the guide to Samuel Hearne on his Arctic overland journey, massacres a group of unsuspecting Inuit.
1791 – Members of the French National Guard under the command of General Lafayette open fire on a crowd of radical Jacobins at the Champ de Mars, Paris, during the French Revolution, killing as many as 50 people.
1794 – The sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne are executed 10 days prior to the end of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.
1856 – The Great Train Wreck of 1856 in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, kills over 60 people.
1867 – Harvard School of Dental Medicine was established in Boston. It was the first dental school in the U.S.
1899 – NEC Corporation is organized as the first Japanese joint venture with foreign capital.
1917 – King George V of the United Kingdom issues a Proclamation stating that the male line descendants of the British royal family will bear the surname Windsor.
1918 – On the orders of the Bolshevik Party carried out by Cheka, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are murdered at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
1918 – The RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, is sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55; 5 lives are lost.
1933 – After successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Lithuanian research aircraft Lituanica crashes in Europe under mysterious circumstances.
1936 – Spanish Civil War: An Armed Forces rebellion against the recently-elected leftist Popular Front government of Spain starts the civil war.
1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the “wrong way” to Ireland and becomes known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
1944 – Port Chicago disaster: Near the San Francisco Bay, two ships laden with ammunition for the war explode in Port Chicago, California, killing 320.
1944 – World War II: Napalm incendiary bombs are dropped for the first time by American P-38 pilots on a fuel depot at Coutances, near St. Lô, France.
1948 – The South Korean constitution is proclaimed.
1955 – Disneyland hosts a televised “International Press Preview” the day before the park’s official opening in Anaheim, California.
1962 – Nuclear weapons testing: The “Small Boy” test shot Little Feller I becomes the last atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada Test Site.
1968 – A revolution occurs in Iraq when Abdul Rahman Arif is overthrown and the Ba’ath Party is installed as the governing power in Iraq with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr as the new Iraqi President.
1973 – King Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan is deposed by his cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan while in Italy undergoing eye surgery.
1975 – Apollo-Soyuz Test Project: An American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with each other in orbit marking the first such link-up between spacecraft from the two nations.
1976 – History of East Timor: East Timor is annexed, and becomes the 27th province of Indonesia.
1976 – The opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal is marred by 25 African teams boycotting the New Zealand team.
1979 – Nicaraguan president General Anastasio Somoza Debayle resigns and flees to Miami, Florida.
1981 – The opening of the Humber Bridge by HM The Queen in England.
1981 – A structural failure leads to the collapse of a walkway at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, Missouri killing 114 people and injuring more than 200.
1989 – First flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
1996 – TWA Flight 800: Off the coast of Long Island, New York, a Paris-bound TWA Boeing 747 explodes, killing all 230 on board.
1998 – Papua New Guinea earthquake: A tsunami triggered by an undersea earthquake destroys 10 villages in Papua New Guinea killing an estimated 3,183, leaving 2,000 more unaccounted for and thousands more homeless.
1998 – A diplomatic conference adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing a permanent international court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
2001 – Concorde is brought back in to service nearly a year after the July 2000 crash.
2007 – TAM Airlines (TAM Linhas Aéreas) Flight 3054 crashes upon landing during rain in Sao Paulo. This is Brazil’s deadliest aviation
accident to date with an estimated 199 deaths.
2009 – Jakarta double bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels killed 9 people including 4 foreigners.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Alexius of Rome (Western Church)
* Jadwiga of Poland
* Martyrs of Compiègne
* Magnus Felix Ennodius
* Piatus of Tournai
* Romanov sainthood (Russian Orthodox Church)
* Speratus and companions
* July 17 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Constitution Day (South Korea)
* Independence Day (Slovakia)
* King’s Birthday (Lesotho)
* World Day for International Justice (International)
* Yama-boko Junko of the Gion Matsuri (Kyoto, Japan)