EU Statement – UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting: 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
– As delivered –
‘There can be no peace without justice, no justice without law and no meaningful law without a Court to decide what is just and lawful under any given circumstance’. These are the words of Benjamin Ferencz, the chief Prosecutor of one of the Nuremberg trials and a life-long advocate for the establishment of the ICC. Today they resonate as powerful as they were many years ago.
Following on from the Nuremberg Tribunals and their principles, the international criminal justice system culminated with the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the ICC 20 years ago. This is a milestone for international cooperation.
The ICC made important strides over the last 20 years. Yet, more results in the courtroom would do more justice to the victims. While the Court is on a mission to increase its effectiveness, much also depends on States and the Security Council. In this regard, let me make three points:
- First, the Security Council should make use of its right of referral, as appropriate. Referrals, such as in the situations in Darfur (Sudan) and Libya, as well as the active follow-up on such referrals, can help promote accountability in countries where egregious crimes may have been committed. Referrals by the Security Council enable the Court to exercise jurisdiction over all four crimes under the Rome Statute, including the crime of aggression, without any other conditions, and irrespective as to whether it involves States Parties or non-States Parties.
- Second, the use of the veto in case of atrocity crimes, including for referrals to the ICC, remains a matter of serious concern. It prevents the Security Council from discharging on its important function entrusted upon it by the UN Charter.
- Third, States must cooperate with the Court to prevent impunity taking hold. The Court is dependent on States’ cooperation from investigation of alleged crimes to the execution of arrest warrants. When the Court’s jurisdiction is triggered by the Security Council, the duty to cooperate must extend to all UN Member States, regardless of whether or not they are a Party to the Rome Statute. This is key for the execution of arrest warrants. Moreover, the Security Council cannot remain indifferent in case of States’ non-cooperation on existing referrals.
The European Union stands firm on three fundamental benefits of the Court:
- First, the ICC is a court for future generations. Being a young court, the international community must support it to unleash its full potential.
- Secondly, the ICC gives the international community a path to global justice and peace. Ratifying the Rome Statute brings States into a framework of international support to develop national laws and capacities to prosecute atrocity crimes in their jurisdictions.
- Third, victims are a key reason of the ICC’s existence, for whom the Court is often their last hope.
These benefits by far outweigh the drawbacks mentioned by those who want to undermine the Court, including by spreading disinformation. We just witnessed an example of such egregious disinformation by the Russian representative. To those people I say - quoting again Prosecutor Ferencz - ‘I prefer law to war under all circumstances’!
I thank you.