50+ Countries Support Int. Criminal Court At UN
Over 50 Countries Voice ICC Support in Security Council Open Debate As U.S. Cuts Aid to ICC States Parties, Global ICC Support is Reinforced
(New York, October 1, 2003) - Statements of strong support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) were heard on behalf of over 50 countries as part of a UN Security Council open debate yesterday on "Justice and the Rule of Law." Statements reiterated countries' support for the ICC and called for increased national and international engagement with the court, including: Security Council support for and referral to the ICC of situations in which states have accepted its jurisdiction; a strengthened relationship between the UN and the ICC; continued ratification of and accession to the Rome Statute of the ICC; and, the strengthening of national jurisdictions to enable states to try the core crimes defined in the Rome Statute, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Notable speakers included Mr. Atoki Ileka, ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the UN, who encouraged the work of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, which has recently announced that it is examining reports of crimes committed in the Ituri region for possible formal investigation. Ambassador Ileka also called for the creation of an ad hoc war crimes tribunal to deal with the crimes committed in the DRC prior to the July 1, 2002 entry into force of the Rome Statute.
Mr. Paul Heinbecker, ambassador of Canada to the UN, highlighted the role of the Security Council regarding potential referrals, saying, "[Š] in cases where the jurisdiction of the ICC is clearly accepted by the State affected, where that state is unwilling or unable to respond to massive crimes, and where there is no hope for the victims other than the ICC - we assume this Council will set aside its differences and support the work of the ICC to help bring justice for victims. The situation in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo, may be one such situation."
The relationship of the Security Council to the ICC was also touched upon by the Ambassador of New Zealand to the United Nations, Mr. Don Mackay, who implied that the Security Council should cease from adopting resolutions that request immunity from the ICC. "[Š]the ICC is now in a position to contribute to the international community's shared objective of ending impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. [Š]we hope that the Security Council will cooperate with the ICC within the framework of the Rome Statute and the Charter, and refrain from actions that would undermine the effective operation of the Court."
Scoop Addition: Don Mackay also said: " Again, in our view, the national courts should, where possible, be the first line of prosecution. That said, however, there will clearly be instances where the nature and the gravity of the crimes, the political situation or, indeed, the capacities of the national system will mean that it will be necessary to turn to an international process. In this situation, we would very much encourage the Council to take advantage of the International Criminal Court (ICC). [...] We therefore hope that the Council will cooperate with the ICC within the framework of the Rome Statute and the Charter, and that it will refrain from actions that would undermine the effective operation of the Court."
A statement made by Japan, which is undertaking work to become a state party to the ICC, called for increased ratification of the Rome Statute. Further statements highlighted the need for a strengthened relationship between the UN system in general and the ICC, and for continued work to strengthen national laws to enable states to try Rome Statute defined crimes at the national level.
This overwhelming show of international support for the ICC coincided with the U.S. determined deadline for ICC states parties to sign bilateral non-surrender agreements with the U.S. or risk losing military assistance. More than 30 countries lost a portion of their U.S. fiscal year 2003 funds, totalling approximately $46 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Assistance (FMF) and Arms Export Control Act funds. As the 2004 U.S. fiscal year commences today, these countries stand to lose the entirety of their 2004 U.S. military assistance, which could total an additional $89.28 million.
"This is the first sanction in U.S. diplomatic history targeted exclusively at democracies," said Heather Hamilton, director of programs at the World Federalist Association. "The Bush administration's ideological opposition to the ICC is compromising other vital U.S. foreign policy priorities, and putting allies and friendly nations in a difficult position," she said.
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Note to the Editor: Additional excerpts from the Security Council open debate and further information on the cut off of U.S. military assistance to ICC States Parties can be found online at http://www.iccnow.org
About the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Coalition) is a global network of over 2,000 members supporting the establishment of a permanent, fair and independent International Criminal Court (ICC). Established in 1995, the Coalition is the leading online provider of information on the ICC. For more information, please visit http://www.iccnow.org.
EXCERPTS FROM THE 4835th MEETING OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL- JUSTICE AND THE RULE OF LAW: THE UNITED NATIONS ROLE
September 30, 2003
Below are excerpts from statements made during the 4835th meeting of the United Nations Security Council during an open debate on 'Justice and the Rule of Law.' Numerous countries made references to the International Criminal Court in their statements. Selected excerpts follow.
Italy (on behalf of the European Union, the acceding countries, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, the associated countries, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the European Fair Trade Association countries, members of the European Economic Area, Iceland and Norway.) "The EU also strongly believes that the International Criminal Court provides a powerful, permanent instrument of deterrence against such crimes. The EU will remain firmly committed to its effective functioning. The Court does not aim at replacing domestic jurisdictions. It may assume responsibility as a last resort and only when a State is unable or unwilling to do so. The Court is not just a judicial institution, designed to prevent and put an end to the impunity of the perpetrators of serious crimes, it is also an essential means of promoting respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law, thus contributing to freedom, security, justice and the rule of law, as well as to the preservation of peace and strengthening of international security." -- H.E. Mr. Spatafora, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations.
Japan "It may be said that the most important recent development in international criminal justice is the birth of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Government of Japan has consistently supported the establishment of the ICC and welcomed it when the Rome Statute came into force. In order for the ICC to be effective and universal, it is necessary for a large number of countries to be able to regard the Court as their own. We therefore consider it crucial that the ICC meet the expectations of as many countries as possible in conducting its activities." --H.E. Mr. Haraguchi, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations.
New Zealand "A fundamental element of re-establishing respect for the rule of law is also delivering justice for the victims of crimes or atrocities committed during the period of conflict. Again, in our view, the national courts should, where possible, be the first line of prosecution. That said, however, there will clearly be instances where the nature and the gravity of the crimes, the political situation or, indeed, the capacities of the national system will mean that it will be necessary to turn to an international process. In this situation, we would very much encourage the Council to take advantage of the International Criminal Court (ICC). We fully understand the sincerity of those countries that have reservations about the Court, but we are confident that its operations will, in fact, assuage those concerns. We therefore hope that the Council will cooperate with the ICC within the framework of the Rome Statute and the Charter, and that it will refrain from actions that would undermine the effective operation of the Court." -- H.E. Mr. MacKay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations.
Serbia and Montenegro "Š my Government views the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a major step forward in creating a lasting framework for promoting the aims of justice and the rule of law at the international level. The International Criminal Court is permanent and its jurisdiction was envisaged as universal. Therefore, it is not focused on one country in particular but on all perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. As was stated at the ministerial-level meeting, it does not represent victors' justice but is aimed at objectively determining individual responsibility in cases of the most serious violations of international humanitarian law. My Government supports that role of the International Criminal Court." --H.E. Mr. Sahovic, Permanent Representative of Serbia and Montenegro to the United Nations.
Austria "However, for financial, political and practical reasons, the Security Council is not able to deal with all situations in which grave crimes have been committed. Austria therefore fully supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court, which by means of its subsidiary jurisdiction is designed to ensure that national authorities devote serious attention to their obligations to investigate and prosecute such crimes. The International Criminal Court thereby contributes to the efforts of the Security Council to ensure the respect of international law. Austria is confident that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court will cooperate successfully to achieve their common goal of strengthening the rule of law and justice in international relations." -- H.E. Mr. Pfanzelter, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations.
Liechtenstein "It became particularly clear from that experience [of the ad hoc tribunals] that only a permanent international tribunal could serve the cause of international criminal justice while maintaining the necessary efficiency and credibility. Such a permanent body was established in 1998, when the Rome Diplomatic Conference adopted the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Court is based on the very principle of complementarity that I mentioned earlier. It is meant, first and foremost, to ensure that States have effective and independent judiciaries in place to deal with the most serious crimes under international law. Only in the absence of such a judiciary - owing to the unwillingness or inability of the States concerned - the International Criminal Court can step in to deliver justice. The Court poses a challenge and provides an opportunity for the United Nations system to continue and enhance its activities in the area of justice and the rule of law. Specialized agencies and programmes can play an invaluable role in helping States to build or solidify strong national judiciaries. In cases where States are not in a position to so, the ICC can step in and bring criminals to justice. It is thus clear that the Court can play a twofold role: first, in motivating States to strengthen their judicial mechanisms; and secondly, in assisting States - especially weakened States, during or after a conflict, for instance - in delivering justice in accordance with the Rome Statute. The Security Council is, of course, given a particular role under the Statute. In fact, the relationship between the Court and the Council is one of the most carefully crafted aspects of the Rome Statute. Specifically, the Council is given the possibility of referring situations to the Court - a function that can be of particular relevance in situations of conflict or post-conflict transition, where States are most likely not to be in a position to deal with the crimes in question through their national mechanisms." -- H.E. Mr. Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations.
Romania "Š Romania looks to the Security Council to continue to build upon its contribution in recent years to various dimensions of justice and the rule of law. The International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court are important steps in the right direction. Romania reiterates its commitment to the goals and principles of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, an institution that reflects universal aspirations to the rule of law and the achievement of justice." -- H.E. Mr. Motoc, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations.
Switzerland "In creating the two International Criminal Tribunals, the Security Council acknowledged the link between peace and international justice. The establishment of the International Criminal Court is a response to the same logic of complementarity between the pursuit of justice and the promotion of peace. While the International Criminal Court is independent from the United Nations, both institutions will benefit from a close and cooperative relationship." -- H.E. Mr. Hel, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations.
Finland "National reconciliation is crucial in countries emerging from conflict. Dealing with past crimes becomes a core issue in the process of establishing trust in the judicial system. In that connection, Finland gives its full support to the functioning of the International Criminal Court and ad-hoc tribunals. Finland believes that there should be no impunity for serious crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity." -- H.E. Ms. Rasi, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations.
Canada "A standing institution such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) can be both more efficient and more effective in deterring and prosecuting mass crimes. Of course, national investigations and prosecutions are the preferred course of action. We believe that the ICC will promote national action through the principle of complementarity. States will know that, if they do not act, the ICC will act; and they will also know, conversely, that if they do act, the ICC will not act. Certain States that may be unwilling or unable to act will also know that the ICC stands ready to help with extensive checks and balances to prevent abuse. We are aware of the very strong concerns in some quarters about the theoretical possibility of the ICC's investigation of nationals of certain non-State parties. We do not think those concerns are warranted, but I would like to set aside those differences for a moment to focus on an area where I presume we all do agree. In cases where the jurisdiction of the ICC is clearly accepted by the State affected, and where that State is unwilling or unable to respond to massive crimes, we assume that the Security Council will support the ICC in bringing justice for victims. The situation in Ituri, the Democratic Republic of Congo, may be one such situation." -- H.E. Mr. Heinbecker, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations.
Jordan "Finally, turning to the prosecution of those accused of having committed the gravest of crimes, my delegation believes firmly that, with the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the Security Council is well positioned to make use of Article 13 (b) of the Rome Statute and refer relevant situations to the Court. Not only are there strong legal arguments to be made in favour of such action by the Security Council - tied to the unique legitimacy brought on by the Court's international and permanent character, together with the Court's early deference to national jurisdictions - but also there are very practical considerations which must be brought into the Council's calculations. Simply put, there is a limit to the number of legal specialists worldwide who are qualified, able and willing to staff and then render operational alternatives to the International Criminal Court, such ad hoc, special or hybrid courts. And, as the President of the Council noted last week, funding these ad hoc arrangements can also be a serious problem. We stand convinced that the International Criminal Court will, over time, play a central role in how the Security Council chooses to confront those who commit the gravest of crimes in societies afflicted by war, and are pleased to note that most Council members appear to share that opinion." -- H.E. Mr. Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations.
San Marino "Important legal institutions have been established, such as the International Criminal Court, which my Government strongly supports. We were the first European country to ratify the Rome Statute of the Court, which was created to fight impunity and to ensure peace, security and the rule of law through the realization of justice. Some of these initiatives, of course, run the risk of criticism, and there are understandable fears, such as that of politicization. But the historical lessons concerning the creation of the International Court of Justice and other international criminal courts and tribunals show that those fears are inevitably transformed into a broader and more universal relationship of cooperation that can only have a more positive effect." -- H.E. Mr. Balestra, Permanent Representative of San Marino to the United Nations.
Sweden "As already mentioned by Italy, on behalf of the European Union, international courts and tribunals have an important role to play in ensuring the rule of law at the international level. The newly established permanent International Criminal Court has endowed the international community with an optimal tool for combating impunity, even when States fail to act domestically. The Security Council can have an important part to play in triggering the jurisdiction of the Court by referring situations to it under article 13 of the Rome Statute. Sweden believes that, as evidence of the universal norms underpinning the very essence of the rule of law, there should be no obstacle for the Rome Statute's eventually achieving universal application." -- H.E. Ms. Fogh, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations.
Sierra Leone "For decades, the international community has been trying to set up a court that will bring justice to victims of heinous crimes and bring an end to the culture of impunity. The international community now has an International Criminal Court that is fully operational. There are now over ninety States that are parties to the Court's Statute. Sadly, despite this expression of determination by the international community to establish a just legal order, the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has not enjoyed full universality. This delegation calls on all States, and these include our dear friends, members of the Security Council, who are not parties to the Statute to sign and ratify the Statute as a matter of urgency. This will demonstrate their commitment to the promotion of justice and the rule of law in international relations. The Judges, the Prosecutor, his deputy and the Registrar of the Court have all been elected. Those eminent persons represent the collective wish of mankind to end impunity and foster the rule of law in international relations. This delegation does not believe that those individuals will engage in frivolous and vexatious prosecutions and thus betray the collective confidence entrusted to them by humankind. The International Criminal Court is the tool that can be instrumental not only in bringing to justice war criminals but also in disseminating the notion of individual criminal justice for egregious crimes. The Court furthers the Security Council's goal of maintaining international peace and security. It is not a threat to the sovereignty of States. In this delegation's view, the principle of complementarity ensures the sanctity of the sovereignty of States. It is only when States are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute that the ICC will intervene." Š "In conclusion, let me remind this body of what the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan said in September last year before the first session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court. He said inter alia that the International Criminal Court "must serve as a bastion against tyranny and lawlessness, and as a building block in the global architecture of collective security." The Sierra Leone delegation subscribes to that view." -- H.E. Mr. Kanu, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations.
Uruguay "... Uruguay, a country that aspires to see an end to impunity and that is a party to the statute of Rome and firmly supports the International Criminal Court." Š "I wish to note that the international community has recognized to a certain degree the need to defer the demand for justice under exceptional circumstances to ensure the maintenance of peace. I am referring to article 16 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which authorizes the Security Council to request that the Court suspend investigations or prosecutions that have been initiated - and it bears repeating, those that have been initiated. The request must be made in accordance with a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, which means that the Council may use that authority when it considers that moving forward with proceedings already initiated before the Court could interfere with the Council's mission to maintain international peace and security. Article 16 of the Rome Statute thus constitutes a clear recognition that justice and the maintenance of international peace and security can sometimes be incompatible goals. To be more precise, resolutions 1422 (2002) and 1487 (2003) are not, in our view, correct applications of article 16 of the Rome Statute." --H.E. Mr.Paolillo, Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations.
Democratic Republic of the Congo "With respect to the most serious crimes committed after the entry into force of the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court must assume its full responsibilities. The recent statement by the Prosecutor of the Court on his intention to initiate an inquiry in this respect should be encouraged." --H.E. Mr. Ileka, Permanent Representative of DRC to the United Nations.
Argentina "The fight against impunity required a universal jurisdictional mechanism, one that existed prior to the commission of the crime and one that was permanent. For those reasons, the international community decided to create the International Criminal Court, a decisive tool for the rule of law and the safeguarding of fundamental human rights. That Court is complementary to national sovereignties. It is not in competition with them. It is based on the consent of the State, freely given upon ratifying the Rome Statute. Before zealously undertaking its own prosecutions, it endeavours to see States set in motion their own courts in the full exercise of their sovereignty and combat impunity through their own systems of justice. Thus it ensures that local authorities applying accepted principles of justice are universalizing the effective application of the rule of law. The Criminal Court thus constitutes the embodiment of the historic aspiration for justice on the part of all the peoples that make up the United Nations. For that reason, we must continue to insist that the profound meaning of this institution be understood, which will revitalize the international legal edifice, ensuring that the application of the law around the world is not thwarted." --H.E. Mr.Cappagli, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations.
Trinidad and Tobago "While noting the success of those tribunals, the international community now has a permanent International Criminal Court to bring to justice the persons responsible for precisely the types of crimes for which those ad hoc tribunals were created. In post conflict situations, the capacity of national authorities to prosecute such crimes must be strengthened through appropriate forms of international assistance. On the other hand, the International Criminal Court (ICC) can make a significant contribution to international peace and security by requiring that justice be administered at the national level. The ICC operates on the fundamental principle of complementarity: the obligation for the State to prosecute remains, and it is only where national authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute that the Court may step in. The ICC embodies an important principle first established by the Nuremberg Tribunal and further recognized by the Security Council through its inclusion in the statutes of the ICTY and the ICTR: no one is above the law and no one will escape punishment for such horrendous crimes." --H.E. Mr. Gift, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations.
International Criminal Court is an achievement of paramount
importance in the history of law. It clearly states that
impunity is not acceptable, regardless of one's position or
prestige. We call on all Member States to adhere to the
Rome Statute so as to make that message even clearer."
--H.E. Mr. Sardenberg, Permanent Representative of Brazil to
the United Nations.