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Referendum of 7 June 2001
23rd Amendment
International Criminal Court





This amendment was ACCEPTED

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Click to visit the Referendum Commission website

See the Referendum Commission website for more information on this Amendment, including the arguments for and against a yes vote.

The Question

Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?

Twenty-third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 2001

That Bill contains the proposal to change the Constitution by the insertion of a new section 9 in Article 29 which states as follows:

"The State may ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court done at Rome on the 17th day of July, 1998."

You will be required to vote yes or no on the proposal on Thursday 7 June, 2001.

The Explanation

The International Criminal Court Referendum

Article 29 of the Constitution deals with international relations and the acceptance by Ireland of obligations under international treaties.

The Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (1998) provides for the establishment of a permanent international criminal court under the United Nations system. The function of the International Criminal Court is to try, in certain defined circumstances, persons charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. It will be a permanent court and not as the previous International Criminal Tribunals were, such as those dealing with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, providing for a particular problem only. The new Court will consist of 18 full-time judges and will sit at the Hague in the Netherlands. To date, approximately 140 countries have signed the Rome Statute (including Ireland) and 30 countries have ratified the Statute. The Court will come into force if and when 60 countries have ratified the Statute.

If the referendum is passed, the State will be in a position to ratify the Rome Statute. The effect of ratification of the Statute will be that some element of sovereignty in criminal matters will be transferred from the potential jurisdiction of the Irish courts to the International Criminal Court. Upon such ratification, a person, for example, living in Ireland could be arrested here and, by proper legal procedure, brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes.

Ratification of the Rome Statute by Ireland would appear to require an amendment of the Constitution because it would otherwise be inconsistent with the present provisions of the Constitution with regard to sovereignty and possibly also with regard to the trial of offences.

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