(The Hague) - The atrocities in Kosovo have made it more urgent than ever to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC), Human Rights Watch said today at the launch of the ICC's global ratification campaign. Milosevic's shocking crimes against the Kosovo-Albanians are exactly the kinds of acts that would fall under the power of the ICC to investigate and punish.  
 
"For too long, perpetrators of these brutal crimes have felt that they would never be held to account for their actions," said Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring organization based in New York.  
 
"Kosovo drives home the lesson that we've got to establish this Court now to create a real threat of prosecution," said Dicker, Director of the ICC Campaign for the rights group. "We need to transform the treaty from a piece of paper into a powerful institution that will hold the Pinochets of the future to account."  
 
The Court will have jurisdiction over the most egregious crimes of our time, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  
 
"There is broad and enthusiastic support for this treaty around the world," said Dicker. At the Rome Conference, where the treaty was negotiated, 120 nations voted in favor of the statute. Now, sixty states must ratify the treaty for it to come into force. So far, 82 states have signed the treaty and 2 have already ratified it.  
 
"Governments worldwide have spoken in favor of this court," Dicker said. "The key now is for these governments to take action to ratify this treaty so it can enter into force."  
 
Ratification efforts are already unfolding all over the world, including in Southern Africa, Latin America, Francophone Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and North Africa/Middle East. Government officials and non-governmental organizations from all of these regions are taking concrete steps toward ratification of the treaty.  
 
Dicker said the period between now and the July/August Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) will be critical to build momentum for ratification. He said the more states that have ratified by then, the less likely it is that those few states opposed to the treaty can re-negotiate its essential provisions during the PrepCom.  
 
"No one thinks the court is a panacea for all the world's problems," said Dicker. "But without it, the likes of Milosevic will feel free to slaughter with impunity. Those who would be the next victims deserve better."