Jianfranco to YT”The conference was proposed by the Yemen government” [Archives:2004/702/Reportage]

January 12 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Mr. Jianfranco Dell' Alba, Member of the European Parliament and Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) organization said that Yemen was not chosen to host the Inter-government Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the role of the International Criminal Court and that Yemen offered to host the event.
He told Yemen Times that the EU was observing the efforts made by the Yemeni people to build a democratic institutions through running regular elections since 1993 where women can vote and run for elections, something which is not the case in the Arabian Peninsula. However, he pointed out that the fight for more democracy never lets up even in Europe. “We want to underline that choosing the democratic way is in itself a big achievement as there are countries which do not choose this way,” he observed. He stressed that in a meeting held last July, the idea of running and holding such an event was raised by the Yemeni side in the meeting. “We were seeking an Arab State to host such a conference. I want to be clear that a proposal was made by the Yemeni government and was happily accepted,” he said.
He said that the NPWJ has run over 30 conferences around the world to promote the ICC and that they want to go to countries that are willing to speak about the ICC and even ratify its establishment. “We know that this bothers the U.S. a lot. The EU is very committed to the ICC and it and we believe the ICC objective to punish crimes against humanity constitutes a protection of the fundamental rights of humanity and individuals; the right not to be killed, assassinated or exterminated. It is a basic right that is now internationally guaranteed,” he elaborated. He stressed that they asked to keep this balance even if they know the Americans were reluctant. “Two days ago we understood the US ambassador to Yemen is happy to come to the conference; we are happy and they maybe can change their mind,” he said.
It was reported that PM Abdulqader Bajamal said that conference is a part of the European and American dispute over the ICC. He said while meeting local organizers and participants in the event that the world would be better without the US which, according to him, interferes in everything. The US obviously and openly opposes the ICC. Some European diplomats said that the US is exercising pressure on Yemen not to ratify the ICC treaty. At the same time, the Europeans are trying to exercise pressure for the ratification through donors. Mr. Jianfranco did not agree with this idea. “Contrary to other countries that exercise pressure, we exercise influence; we try to convince people, not to pressure them, not having this idea that money can be utilized,” he said.
He pointed out that they obtained a commitment from the Yemeni government that the next item to be discussed after the parliament break would be the ratification of the treaty. “We hope very much they are going to ratify,” he said. One of the main themes of the conference is the role of the ICC in a region wherein very few countries have ratified the ICC treaty. However, he said that the wider issues are those related to democracy and human rights. “We are very proud we can say to the Arabs, the invited countries and the US we too Europeans can speak about democracy, we too have a message to deliver on democracy and human rights that in our vision the role of the ICC is crucial to promote these values,” he stressed.
Minister of Human Rights, Amat al-Aleem al-Soswa said in a roundtable organized by Sister Arab Forum for Human Rights last week on the ICC, that the government is committed to the ratification of the treaty. She pointed out that there are some reservations over article 28 concerning tribunal of war criminals which Mr. Jianfranco said that there can not be reservations on any article of the treaty; either to agree on the treaty or do not. Al-Soswa said that there should be guarantees that the ICC would be neutral and independent, away from double standards policy and that human rights should not be taken as means to exercise pressure on some countries and thus interfering in their internal affairs.
Mr. Jianfranco said that one of their dreams is that Arab governments commit themselves to endorse the Arab Human Development Report and a commitment to a follow-up mechanism to ensure that Sana'a Declaration is progressing. Another thing is that the civil society organizations in the region would gather and create a regional coalition to promote democracy and human rights.