Dr. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, newly-elected as judge to the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands. (File photo from komentaryopilipino.blogspot.com)
“Dr. Santiago is eminently qualified. She has shown competence and commitment in defense of the rule of law. She has demonstrated her intelligence and legal acumen through her decisions that have been cited by the Philippine Supreme Court. She has shown independence and integrity in her actions. She is more than qualified for this position,” as Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in the news article.¹
Miriam overwhelmingly topped the first round of elections, held on December 12 in New York, bested candidates from every region and first to be elected out of 18 candidates competing for the six (6) seats in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
With 79 votes out of 104 valid votes, Dr. Miriam Defensor-Santiago made history not only in the Philippines, as the first Filipino elected, but also to the ICC and to the states parties, as the first ever Asian female from a developing state to sit as judge in the International Criminal Court -– the first permanent international court that prosecutes individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
On Her Way to ICC
In May 2011, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario endorsed Miriam to Mr. Aquino as the country’s candidate to the International Criminal Court.² Then to satisfy the legal requirement pursuant to the Rome Statute of the ICC, Article 36, par. 4(a)(ii), the Philippine National Group in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ( in which the members of the PCA are: Former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr, Former SC Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, Prof. Merlin Magallona, and Former Ambassador Lilia R. Bautista) nominated her candidacy to the qualifications and category specified in Rome Statute of the ICC, Article 36 par. 3 (b)(ii):
Have established competence in relevant areas of international law such as international humanitarian law and the law of human rights, and extensive experience in a professional legal capacity, which is of relevance to the judicial work of the Court (the ICC).
In addition, Miriam is also qualified under Rome Statute of the ICC, Article 36 par. 3 (b)(i):
Have established competence in criminal law and procedure…as judge, prosecutor, advocate… in criminal proceedings.
After all confirmations and tough screenings conducted by the ICC to Dr. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s stellar qualifications as having established competence in international law, criminal law and procedure, and outstanding experience as trial court judge, and after all the campaigns and speeches Miriam had delivered to states parties, hard work and outstanding brilliance, Miriam had shown, paid off.
Philippine Permanent Representative Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan said in a statement:
”Dr. Santiago’s triumph is a victory for the entire Philippines and a demonstration of the international community’s complete faith and confidence in her outstanding abilities and of the country’s commitment to the global fight against impunity.”
Philippines to the ICC
From left to right in this photo: Her Excellency, Senator Loren Legarda, President of the Senatorial Committee of Foreign Affairs (Philippines); His Excellency, Mr Libran N. Cabactulan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines; Ms Arancha Hnojal, Legal Officer, Treaty Section, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs; Mr Andrei Kolomoets, Officer-in-Charge, Treaty Section, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (File Photo from:http://icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/C38C365E-EFAC-4758-A18D-EBBD8D171C9C.htm)
The Philippines formally submitted its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on August 30, 2011 at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs in New York. On November 1, 2011, the Philippines became officially one of the states parties that joined the Rome Statute system.
International Criminal Court President Sang-Hyun Song, once visited the Philippines, stated that this act (the Philippines’ move to join the ICC among other Asian nations) is another indication of Asia’s growing role and cooperation in the international community’s effort to end impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to humanity.
Dr. Miriam Defensor-Santiago Profile³
Miriam is a consistent Valedictorian graduate from elementary to high school. She also graduated magna cum laude in college (completed her AB Political Science in just 3 1/2 years) and cum laude in law school both in University of the Philippines.
She took her master’s and doctor’s degree in law at the University of Michigan as a Barbour Scholar and DeWitt Fellow and completed her requirements for doctorate in just six (6) months with an “A” average.
She further studied postdoctoral courses at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of California-Berkeley; where in the latter school, she received the highest grade in judicial writing.
Miriam became special assistant to the Secretary of Justice after passing the bar. Then, she worked as a legal officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland; then as a legal consultant for the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.
(For complete profile information of Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago, you may click this link: http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/Elections/EJ2011/ICC-ASP-EJ2011-PH-CV-ENG.pdf)
The working languages of the International Criminal Court are English and French. However, there are six official languages of the Court: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Russian, and Spanish.
Dr. Miriam Defensor-Santiago will serve a 9-year term to the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Post Note: You can browse the final results of the elections of the ICC by clicking this link: Final Results: Election of the Judges of the International Criminal Court. Tenth session of the Assembly of States Parties, held on 12-21 December 2011 at UN. Last Update : 13 December 2011, 21:00
Sources and Related Readings:
- Defensor Santiago Elected Judge of War Crimes Court. In Legal on December 13, 2011 at 1:32 am. The FilAm
- Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago Tops Election for International Criminal Court Judges. Tuesday, December 13, 2011 09:15. Public Information Service Unit. http://dfa.gov.ph
- a statement: 2nd to the last par. Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago Tops Election for International Criminal Court Judges. Tuesday, December 13, 2011 09:15. Public Information Service Unit. http://dfa.gov.ph
- Miriam Elected as Judge to Int’l Criminal Court. abs-cbnNEWS.com. ellen tordesillas
- Miriam Santiago Wins Judge Position in International Criminal Court (ICC). Pinoy Power.
- Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- International Criminal Court
1 7th par. Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago Tops Election for International Criminal Court Judges. Tuesday, December 13, 2011 09:15. Public Information Service Unit. http://dfa.gov.ph
² 2nd to the last par. Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago Tops Election for International Criminal Court Judges. Tuesday, December 13, 2011 09:15. Public Information Service Unit. http://dfa.gov.ph
³ Under Nomination Process. Coalition for the International Criminal Court: Questionnaire for ICC Judicial Candidates. December 2011 Elections. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
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