24/07/98 (LIB 001) AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL International Criminal Court – diplomatic Conference Action

Desired fo
your information Dear Pierre, I am writing to you to let you know how much
I and the rest of the Amnesty International delegation valued the contribution
of Aref Mohamed Aref, before and during the diplomatic conference in Rome.

I have known
Aref for many years, starting with my work with him at he African Commission
on Human and Peoples’ rights.

He impressed
me with his quick grasp of complex legal issues and his excellent lobbying
skills, so it was natural that we would ask him to go with me to the Dakar
conferences on the International Criminal Court.

His energy
and determination were essential in ensuring that both the declaration at
the non-governmental organization meeting and the one organized by the Government
of Senegal and No Peace without Justice were strong.

Of course,
we then asked him to join us as a delegate to the final session of the Preparatory
Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.
He played a crucial role in developing a generally unified African government
position in practice at the Preparatory Committee, bridging the unhappy
gaps which existed between countries speaking different languages.

His ability
to shift effortlessly between Arabic, French and English in the same conversation
and his great personal charm helped build up trust of government officials
and representatives of non-governmental organizations from all parts of

He also paid
a crucial visit to Burkina Faso during the session to lobby the incoming
Chair of the OAU on the International Criminal Court. Largely as a result
of his work, Africa became an important and positive power bloc at the diplomatic

It was then
inevitable that we would invite him to become a member of the Amnesty International
delegation in Rome for the entire five weeks of the diplomatic conference.

If there is
one hero I would single out among non-governmental organization representatives,
it would be Aref.

His inexhaustible
energy and unwavering determination were responsible for African governments
staying generally united in support of a strong court and resisting incredibly
strong pressure from the United States, including threats to withdraw economic

Without the
strong support of African governments, we simply would not have had an International
Criminal Court. He was particularly effective with new delegates who had
not been involved in the work of the Preparatory Committee and with francophone
African government delegated, where he had to labour under the enormous
handicap of not having any French translations of Making the right choices.

He often had
to spend valuable time translating key parts of our materials into French
to assist these delegates, but it paid off in the end as these delegates
came to him again and again for assistance in developing their government’s

He also undertook
the equally difficult task of ensuring a unified position among non-governmental
organizations from the South and helped ensure that the declaration of non-governmental
organizations from Asia, Africa and Latin America included everyone of Amnesty
International’s16 fundamental principles.

He demonstrated
an excellent ability to work with people from all parts of the world and
on a wide variety of issues. I hope that Aref’s invaluable work receives
the recognition it deserves from the movement.

I look forward
to working with him in the future on ratification of the Statute and other

His talent
need to be exploited, not only by Amnesty International, but by other non-governmental
organizations working for the cause of human rights everywhere.

Yours sincerely,
Christopher Keith Hall