6 December - In an era of accountability, there can be no immunity for serious international crimes, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today, citing the need to “stay on the offence” to prevail in the fight against impunity.

“At a time when international justice is under attack in many places, we must strengthen our resolve to shut the door on the era of impunity and ensure that in this new era perpetrators truly answer for their crimes,” Mr. Ban told the Ninth Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The gathering, which is taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from6 to 10 December, brings together representatives from the 113 States parties to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, to discuss matters central to the Court's operation.

“The international community has overwhelmingly embraced the idea that we have entered an age of accountability, and that there can be absolutely no immunity for international crimes,” he told the meeting.

“But make no mistake: to prevail in the fight against impunity, we must stay on the offence,” he added, while underlining the “crucial importance” of States complying with their responsibilities to enforce all outstanding arrest warrants.

The Ninth Session follows the Kampala Review Conference which concluded in June of this year with agreement on a definition and framework for the prosecution of the crime of aggression.

The Secretary-General acknowledged that while the Court does not yet have universal support, “the battle for trust in the ICC” must be won in the courtroom. He urged that trials be conducted expeditiously and transparently “in a manner that instils confidence.”

“The ICC is the centrepiece of our system of international criminal justice,” Mr. Ban said. “If we are serious about combating impunity and promoting accountability, we must support its work.”

According to the provisional agenda, issues to be discussed include reports concerning the activities of the ICC, budgetary and financial matters concerning the operation of the Court, as well as amendments to the Rome Statute.

“Our generation has the opportunity to decisively advance the cause of justice and prevent horrendous suffering,” Mr. Ban concluded. “If we fail to heed Kampala's call, we fail humanity.”

The ICC is a permanent court based in The Hague in the Netherlands and tries people accused of the most serious international offences, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.