Q. Is Palestine a State That Can Join The Rome Statute, the ICC?

A. Yes. Ultimately after an exhaustive look at international law and agreement the UN General Assembly in 2012 voted to make Palestine an official Observer State.

From the UN Press Center, GA/11317[1]:

Voting by an overwhelming majority — 138 in favour to 9 against (Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States), with 41 abstentions — the General Assembly today accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki, with a special edition of the Rome Statute. Image Credit: © ICC-CPI.

ICC Second Vice-President Judge Kuniko Ozaki, in the presence of the President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, presents Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki, with a special edition of the Rome Statute. Image Credit: © ICC-CPI. See below the fold for the scoop on when the state of Palestine joined the ICC as the 123rd State Party.


“The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation,” said Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, as he called on the 193-member body to “issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine”. Indeed, following Israel’s latest aggression against the Gaza Strip, the international community now faced “the last chance” to save the long elusive two-State solution, he said, adding: “the window of opportunity is narrowing and time is quickly running out”.


Palestine came before the Assembly because it believed in peace, and because its people were in desperate need of it, he said, speaking ahead of the vote. Its endeavour to seek a change in status at the United Nations did not aim to terminate what remained of the long stagnant peace negotiations; instead, he said, it was aimed at trying to “breathe new life” into the process. Support for the resolution would also send a promising message to millions of Palestinians “that justice is possible and that there is a reason to be hopeful”, he stressed.


The text upgraded Palestine’s status without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practice. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was recognized as an observer entity in 1974. By other terms of the resolution — the adoption of which coincided with the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and with the Assembly’s annual debate on the Question of Palestine — Member States echoed the “urgent need for the resumption and acceleration” of the peace negotiations.

ICC welcomes Palestine as a new State Party[2]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) held a ceremony on 1 April 2015 at the seat of the Court in The Hague (the Netherlands) to welcome the State of Palestine as the 123rd State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.


During the ceremony, the ICC’s Second Vice-President, Judge Kuniko Ozaki, presented the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, Dr. Riad Al-Malki, with a special edition of the Rome Statute, as a symbol of their joint commitment to the rule of law.


The ceremony was held in the presence of the President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, a number of ICC Judges, ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart and ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel.


Vice-President Kuniko Ozaki stated: “Accession to a treaty is, of course, just the first step. As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly.”


The President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, declared that “such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, that are ideals of peace and justice for all.”


Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki said: “As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice. Indeed, today brings us closer to our shared goals of justice and peace.”

[1] GA/11317. General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly to Accord Palestine ‘Non-Member Observer State’ Status in United Nations. Sixty-seventh General Assembly. United Nations, 29 November 2012. Web. 10 July 2016. ‹http://www.un.org/press/en/2012/ga11317.doc.htm

[2] El Abdullah, Fadi. ICC welcomes Palestine as a new State Party. ICC-CPI-20150401-PR1103. International Criminal Court, 1 April 2015. BBSNews. 10 July 2016. ‹ICC Files.›

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Michael Hess

Michael Hess

I started writing and editing BBSNews in 1990. Before the 'web, back in the Bulletin Board System (BBS) days. My pursuit of factual and reality based information informs my worldview. The ever evolving BBSNews contains New Mexico news, South Florida news and features, national and international news, politics, space, foreign policy and in particular; news and facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have a long background in technical engineering, I hold several patents including on Disaster Recovery based on work after Hurricane Katrina and I am dedicated to finally seeing the rule of law properly and across the board evenly applied and enforced in the Middle East, particularly with respect to the state of Palestine. See our About Us page for more details.