Monday, 3 July 2017

Simone Veil the fighter for victims' rights at the ICC passes away

Simone Veil, French politician and Holocaust survivor, contributed to global justice through her role in the Trust Fund for Victims and passed away just before ICC's 15th anniversary. The Coalition for the International Criminal Court wants to pay tribute to her.

Simone Veil was an inspirational figure whose worldwide impact has left a permanent mark on the history of human rights. It is not only her personal story as a Holocaust survivor which has garnered her such admiration, but also and foremost her fight for a fairer world for victims and survivors of grave crimes, and for women as a whole. Veil passed at 89 last week in Paris.

After playing a leading role in French law and politics, including around the legalization of contraception and abortion during her tenure as France’s Minister of Health, and then as the President of the European Parliament, Veil served as the first Chair of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) Board of Directors from 2003 to 2009 to build, in her own words, “an institution that effectively serves victims' interests.”

The TFV was born from the establishment of the International Criminal Court on 1 July 2002, when the Rome Statute came into effect. Veil recognized the unique importance of the TFV’s mandate, which she described as “a quite remarkable step forward in terms of consideration of the needs of victims, which cannot be met alone by the Court’s judgments against those responsible for the most serious crimes.”

Simone Veil was deeply committed to the TFV mission to support and implement programs and awards that address victims' harms resulting from genocide, crimes of humanity and war crimes. Veil's was a strong voice supporting those of civil society that still today call on all governments to make voluntary contributions to the TFV so that it can meaningfully restore victims of horrific crimes.

On behalf of the current TFV Board of Directors, Chair Motoo Noguchi stated, “Madame Veil has been an inspiration for many generations of advocates for the oppressed and the disenfranchised. Her personal experience as a survivor of the Holocaust, her moral fortitude and her pioneering professional accomplishments made her election to the first TFV Board of Directors, as well as her appointment as its first Chair, a most compelling expression of the Rome Statute’s unprecedented ambition to recognise the suffering of victims and in particular, of the right of victims to overcome their harm and to regain their dignity and hope. In further building and promoting the Trust Fund for Victims as a global beacon of reparative justice for victims, we, the current members of the Board, are ever more strongly mindful of her legacy.”

“Today we lost a leading figure in the pursuit of justice, women's rights and equality,” said Jelena Pia-Comella, Deputy executive director of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. "Simone Veil played a persistent and coherent role not only in giving a voice to victims of genocide, in particular through her contribution to the International Criminal Court and the Trust Fund for Victims, but also in promoting women's rights, gender justice and peace-building in Europe."

As the French newspaper Le Monde put it, Simone Veil “embodies - in her own way - the three great moments of the history of the 20th century: the Shoah, the emancipation of women and European hope”.

With Veil's passing occurring on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the ICC, her story will once again be in the spotlight as human rights and gender justice advocates the world over commemorate 15 years in the permanent fight against impunity. Her legacy, however, has never left it.

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