The Korea Herald


Korean attorney elected as new ICC judge

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : Dec. 7, 2023 - 13:24

    • Link copied

Paek Kee-bong, newly-elected judge of the International Criminal Court, speaks to the media in New York on Wednesday. (Yonhap) Paek Kee-bong, newly-elected judge of the International Criminal Court, speaks to the media in New York on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

South Korean attorney Paek Kee-bong was elected as a judge of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday. He is the third Korean to be elected to the court.

Paek will serve a nine-year term from 2024 to 2033 at the ICC headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Six new judges were elected, comprising one-third of the court's total of 18 judges, during the annual session of the Assembly of States Parties in New York.

ICC judges play a crucial role in overseeing the court's operations, ensuring the administration of justice, and holding perpetrators accountable for heinous crimes of concern to the international community.

Candidates from a total of 13 countries participated in the election. Paek secured his election by obtaining 83 votes, surpassing two-thirds of the votes among the representatives of the 123 countries present. Additionally, candidates from Mongolia, France, Slovenia, Romania and Tunisia were also elected as judges.

Paek has "garnered widespread recognition as a top-tier expert in the field of international criminal law, demonstrating proficiency in both practical and theoretical aspects (of law)," according to the Foreign Ministry.

"Paek anticipates making significant contributions to curbing grave crimes within the purview of the ICC leveraging his extensive experience and profound understanding of the Rome Statute, as well as enhancing trial efficiency by incorporating advanced information technology."

Paek has an extensive legal career spanning over three decades, having started his judicial journey in 1992 as a prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. Paek also contributed to international legal endeavors, serving as a senior prosecutorial and judicial advisor at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which combats illicit drugs and international crime, and oversees the implementation of the UN-led program on terrorism.

Paek currently holds the position of senior attorney at Kim & Chang LLP, South Korea's largest law firm.

With Paek's election, South Korea has now produced its third ICC judge since the court's establishment in 2002.

Chung Chang-ho's nine-year term as an ICC judge is scheduled to conclude in March. Song Sang-hyun previously held the position from 2003 to 2015. Song also served concurrently as the ICC president from 2009 to 2015.

The ICC was established with the primary aim of putting an end to impunity for perpetrators involved in the most heinous crimes. Its mission is to hold those responsible accountable for their actions, prevent the recurrence of such crimes, and contribute to ensuring justice.

Established through the Rome Statute, a foundational international treaty signed by 123 countries, the ICC is empowered to exercise jurisdiction over four major categories of crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. Functioning as a court of last resort, the ICC is designed to complement national courts rather than replace them.

As of now, the ICC is conducting 17 investigations worldwide, encompassing various cases, including war crimes in Ukraine and an arrest warrant issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin.