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Against Compromising International Criminal Court

12 July 2002

NZ Speaks Out Against Compromising International Criminal Court

New Zealand has warned the United Nations Security Council against accepting any proposal which would undermine the principles of the International Criminal Court, says Foreign Minister, Phil Goff.

“The message we delivered to the Security Council this week is that providing across-the-board immunity for United Nations peacekeepers on a permanent basis was inconsistent with the principles of the Rome Statute which establishes the
Court.

“Putting peacekeepers above the law would represent an unacceptable double standard and undermine the moral authority of the peacekeeping force.

“It is also unacceptable for the Security Council to amend a treaty without the approval of the countries who have signed up to it.

“We see no need or justification to exempt peacekeepers from the jurisdiction of the Court. It is highly unlikely that service personnel on peacekeeping duties would commit crimes of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity. It is even less likely that the countries to whom the peacekeepers belong would not investigate those allegations.

“There are clear safeguards which prevent decisions on prosecutions being based on political rather then legal grounds which is the concern held by the United States. Not least of those safeguards is the principle that national courts have primary responsibility for the prosecution of crime by their nationals. Further no court prosecutor can proceed with any action without the approval of Court judges.

“The key principle of the International Court is to remove impunity from those who commit the worst crimes against humanity.

“The Security Council must take no action which undermines the terms or integrity of the Statute which sets up the Court or detracts from its ability to do its job,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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