(July 6, 2009) On June 29, 2009, Chile deposited with the United Nations its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute, becoming the last South American country to become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This measure achieves one of the most important goals in connection with human rights issues for the government of President Michelle Bachelet. The ratification process took ten years.
The government stated that Chilean membership in the ICC would not affect cases related to the Augusto Pinochet regime, because the court cannot prosecute cases that occurred before its creation in 2002. However, the Chilean courts have applied the principles established in the Rome Statute as a reference in their decisions even before Chile ratified the treaty. This ratification will not have any legal effect on the cases already in process. (Chile Oficializo Hoy Su Adhesion a La Corte Penal Internacional, Diario La Tercera, June 29, 2009, available at http://www.latercera.com/contenido/680_148937_9.shtml; Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (July 17, 1998; in force on July 1, 2002), U.N. Doc. A/CONF.183/9*), http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm (last visited June 30, 2009).)