The International Criminal Court should be properly funded, particularly when it came to cases referred to it by the Security Council, the General Assembly heard today, as it concluded its debate on the Court’s report.
The year 2016 would mark the Court’s largest workload since it became operational. Increasing its efficiency, including by expediting judicial proceedings, would be a challenge without adequate funding.
The representative of Brazil said that costs incurred from Council referrals should be met by United Nations funds and not fall solely to the States parties. That was clearly specified in Article 115 (b) of the Rome Statute. The current situation was not sustainable, he added.
Lichtenstein’s representative echoed that sentiment, adding that it was particularly concerning that the Court’s new investigation in Libya might not be possible due to a lack of funding. In addition, he called for greater cooperation between the Council and the Court. The former’s inadequate follow up to its referrals had hampered accountability, in particular on the issues of notifications on non-cooperation. A more productive relationship could include stronger mandates for peacekeeping and special political missions and targeted sanctions against indicted persons.
Several Member States called for working towards the universality of the Rome Statute. While commending that 123 States had acceded so far, a third of the United Nations membership had not yet done so.
The representative of Ecuador said efforts to politicize and abuse the Statute were discouraging. Universal accession was also necessary for the ratification of its amendments, such as the Kampala Amendment on Crimes of Aggression, he added. Several countries welcomed the State of Palestine’s recent accession to the Statute.
While many representatives commended the Court’s work and its vital role in ending impunity for perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Algeria’s representative said the activities of the Court had focused exclusively on Africa, while unacceptable situations in other parts of the world had been ignored. The representative of Kenya said that African States had tried to engage constructively with the Court with little success.
A recurring theme of the debate was the importance of strengthening national capacities to prosecute Statute crimes as the Court should only be viewed as a measure of last resort. The representative of the Republic of Korea said that States parties should investigate grave crimes within their borders and prosecute or extradite criminals based on the principle of complementarity. The Court, the United Nations and other international organizations should offer expertise and assistance to States parties to improve their judicial capacity.
Other countries speaking today were the Philippines, Madagascar, China, Senegal, Nigeria, Poland, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Botswana, Argentina and Japan.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 November, to elect members of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and appoint members of the Committee on Conferences, the Joint Inspection Unit as well as hold a by-election for seats in the Economic and Social Council.
The General Assembly met today to conclude its debate on the work of the International Criminal Court over the past year. For background, see Press Release GA/11719.
LOURDES ORTIZ YPARRAGUIRRE (Philippines) said that her country’s law on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes against Humanity, enacted in 2009, had paved the way for its ratification of the Rome Statute. Supporting all efforts to mend the International Criminal Court’s relations with the concerned countries in Africa, the Philippines supported the “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes”, elaborated in the context of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group under the leadership of Liechtenstein. The goal being universality, the Philippines joined the call for many more countries, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region, to accede to or ratify the Rome Statute.
MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria) echoed the concerns which had been raised over the last years by the African Union, African States and many other countries all over the world with regard to the need for the United Nations Security Council, the International Criminal Court and the Assembly of States Parties to engage constructively with the requests submitted by the African Union and African States. While there was a need for the international community to ensure the prosecution of individuals suspected of crimes against humanity, the primary role of sovereign States in pursuing such objectives had to be stressed. The activities of the Criminal Court since its establishment had focused exclusively on Africa, while unacceptable situations in other parts of the world had been ignored.
ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY (Madagascar) said that international cooperation between States and the International Criminal Court was of vital importance for the latter’s functioning. Threats to international peace and security, as well as continuing violence and atrocities, remained a source of concern for the international community, which had resolved to end impunity and pursue justice for crimes against humanity. For those reasons, Madagascar supported the initiative of France and Mexico to suspend the veto in cases of mass atrocities, as well as that of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group, she said, urging States that were not signatories to the Rome Statute to accede to the treaty.
XU HONG (China) said that to build a constructive partnership, the International Criminal Court and the United Nations should respect each other’s functions. That included intensifying cooperation within the legal framework of the Charter and relevant Assembly and Council resolutions, as well as the Relationship Agreement between the Organization and the Court. He hoped the Court would continue to perform its duties prudently to ensure that criminal justice would not be achieved at the expense of peace, stability and national reconciliation. On the issue of immunity for Heads of States, he hoped the Court would abide by existing international law and take into consideration the legitimate claims of certain countries so as to avoid obstructing the performance by State leaders of their duties. Noting that 24 States Parties had ratified the amendment to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression, he hoped the amendment would be implemented in an orderly manner within the framework of international law established by the Charter. The paramount authority of that document must be safeguarded and any other international legislation must conform to its provisions.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said 2016 would mark the highest level of judicial activities since the International Criminal Court became operational. Increasing efficiency to the International Criminal Court, including by expediting judicial proceedings, was a challenge, especially in the face of budget cuts. It was concerning that the Court’s new investigation in Libya might not be possible due to a lack of funding, he said, adding in that regard that the costs of investigations resulting from Security Council referrals should be financed from the United Nations budget, as foreseen by the Rome Statute. The Council’s lack of follow-up to its referrals hampered accountability, particularly its lack of response to notifications on non-cooperation.
A more productive relationship could include stronger mandates for peacekeeping and special political missions, and targeted sanctions against indicted persons, he said. States parties should also intensify efforts to execute more than a dozen outstanding arrest warrants. Emphasizing that the universality of the Rome Statute was a key goal, he said that, while 123 States parties was a solid number, the Court did not have more than a third of United Nations Member States. The Informal Ministerial Network on the International Criminal Court, coordinated by Liechtenstein, had initiated an action plan to move forward with the ratification process and close impunity gaps, he said, adding that his country advocated for ratification of the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression. He congratulated Switzerland for having ratified them in September, bringing the number of States that had ratified the Amendments to 24.
ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal) said the dynamic relationship between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations was crucial in the maintenance of international peace and security. His country supported inviting the President and Prosecutor of the Court annually to inform the Security Council on issues of common interest and on ways to strengthen cooperation. The growing number of cases in the Court demonstrated the importance afforded to it by the international community and the hope it represented in ending impunity. However, the judicial body needed to be adequately funded. Senegal supported the General Assembly funding of investigations referred to under Article 115 (b) of the Rome Statute, particularly Council referrals. The Court should only adjudicate when States could not judge crimes themselves. In that case the United Nations should provide technical assistance to build up national capacity through training judicial and law enforcement personnel. Underscoring the universality of the Rome Statute, he welcomed the State of Palestine which had recently acceded to it. Cooperation with civil society, regional and subregional organizations was crucial to investigations and the carrying out of international mandates. The Council, as guarantor of international peace and security, should act responsibly in response to mass atrocity crimes. The Court’s cooperation with the Council was indispensable and should be strengthened.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria) said that since the International Criminal Court’s raison d’être was based on the need to end impunity, his delegation found it perplexing that some Member States had decided not to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction over their nationals, while at the same time clamouring for its imposition upon the nationals of other Member States. He went on to note that the Office of the Prosecutor had not been able to identify any case against Nigeria’s security forces in its analysis of war crimes committed by Boko Haram, and allegedly by Nigerian forces in the context of the fight against terrorism.
ANDRZEJ MISZTAL (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed efforts to improve the International Criminal Court’s work. In that context, he suggested introducing changes to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence involving, among others, limiting the composition of the Court in certain cases, which would contribute to more efficient proceedings without prejudice to their reliability and integrity. Stressing the need for the Court’s universality, he welcomed the Action Plan for the Universality of the Rome Statute recently adopted by the Ministerial Network for the International Criminal Court. He emphasized that it was indispensable for African countries to be part of the international justice system underpinned by the Rome Statute, and underlined the central role of victims in the Court’s legal system. Noting that their right to participation and reparation were fundamental to the Statute, he highlighted that, during the reporting period, the Court and the Trust Fund for Victims had begun the first-ever implementation of Court-ordered reparations. He also said the Council should enforce cooperation by concerned States which failed to fulfil Court mandates on cases the Security Council had referred. The Court must become more efficient and effective and its independence must be protected.
MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), expressing deep regret over the slow pace of the Court’s judicial output, said that in a world of devastating wars and grave injustices, that was “disheartening and confounding”. Kenya was also deeply concerned about the interpretation and implementation of the Rome Statute, he said. There was growing anxiety and urgency, particularly among African States, that the manner of the Statute’s application did not augur well for the future of the International Criminal Court, he said. During the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute in November 2013, that body had decided that amendments to Rule 68 (on prior recorded testimony) would not be used retroactively or in any of the cases before the International Criminal Court at that time.
However, that had been ignored in Kenya’s case, he said, going on to note that the report currently before the Assembly mentioned ongoing investigations in Kenya, the integrity of which were being called into question owing to the alarming revelations that witnesses had been procured with promises of reward. African States had tried to engage constructively with the Court with little success. Noting that Section B of the report dealt with cooperation with States and regional organizations, he said the absence of any mention of the African Union in paragraph 107 was a telling and glaring omission. Given that the bulk of the Court’s work was centred on Africa, there should be a more proactive effort to deepen its interaction with the region, he emphasized.
RICARDO ALDAY GONZÁLEZ (Mexico) welcomed the accession of the State of Palestine to the Rome Statute. Despite progress, the International Criminal Court also faced challenges. There were outstanding arrest warrants against eight individuals. There were now 11 instances of non-cooperation, and it was urgent that the Security Council, as guarantor of international peace and security, provided effective follow-up to the situations it had referred to the Court. The powers conferred upon the Council in the Rome Statute to refer situations to the Court also involved a duty towards the international community as a whole. The overall goal should be that perpetrators of international crimes be brought before the law. The Court was encouraged to continue strengthening its work in the strict framework of the Rome Statute.
GEORGINA GUILLÉN-GRILLO (Costa Rica) expressed full support for the International Criminal Court, which she called one of the most important achievements of multilateral efforts around the world, and the result of the willingness of the international community to put an end to impunity and provide justice to victims. Reiterating the importance of efforts to promote the ratification of the Rome Statute until it was universal, her delegation recalled that the tribunal was a court of last resort, and wasn’t created to replace domestic courts. With 21 cases before it as well as eight situations, the Court had the heaviest caseload in its history. In regard to the geographical location of cases before the Court, her delegation recalled that the Court had begun to consider only two of those situations at the initiative of the prosecutor.
XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) expressed support for the International Criminal Court as a mechanism to fight impunity. However, in order for the Court to exercise jurisdiction over serious crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity, the Rome Statute must enjoy universal accession. Efforts to politicize and abuse the Statute were discouraging, he said, emphasizing that his delegation supported universality, which was also necessary for ratification of amendments to the Rome Statute, such as the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) expressed support for the Rome Statute and said that enhancing its universality would dispel the misperception of selectivity regarding the International Criminal Court’s activities. South American countries were not only parties to the Statute. Latin American and Caribbean States represented the second largest group among States Parties, second only to the African Group. Every new ratification was an important step towards peace and his delegation welcomed the recent accession of the State of Palestine to the Statute. Brazil attached importance to the Kampala Review Conference and was convinced that the activation of the amendment regarding the Crime of Aggression would represent a major contribution to completing the international justice system. His country was concerned about financing Security Council referrals and called for the implementation of Article 13 of the Relationship Agreement and Article 115 (b) of the Rome Statute. The Articles provided guidance stating that those costs should be met by United Nations funds and not fall solely to the Parties to the Statute. Proper funding of Council referrals would enhance the credibility of the Court and the United Nations, and the current situation was not sustainable.
CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said that his delegation remained a strong supporter and friend of the International Criminal Court. Noting that it was currently faced with 21 cases and eight situations, mainly on the African continent, he said there were numerous other potential cases deserving of its consideration, such as those of Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Yemen and Libya. As human rights violations and atrocious crimes continued to take place in the world, Botswana called upon some members of the Security Council to refrain from frustrating initiatives to refer such deserving cases to the International Criminal Court.
HOLGER F. MARTINSEN (Argentina) welcomed the development of activities to address situations and cases under the Charter of the International Criminal Court in fulfilment of its mandate. Calling on all Member States to bear in mind the nature of the Court as they evaluated their own budgets, he encouraged States to promote the streamlining of processes through positive consideration of the rules of procedure. Over the years a need had developed for greater accountability for crimes. The Security Council had incorporated the Court into its own consideration on specific situations. The tribunal in terms of referrals exercised its jurisdiction on State Party nationals and non-States parties to the Statute. No statement by the Council had the capacity to change the norms of the Statute with regard to the jurisdiction of the Court.
HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan), highlighting his country’s standing as the largest contributor of financial and human resources, including judges, to the International Criminal Court, said the Court’s resources remained limited and must be used in the most efficient way possible. Another challenge was the Court’s effectiveness, he said, emphasizing that cooperation among concerned States was of key importance for more effective implementation of the Rome Statute. Capacity-building in legislation and criminal justice systems of concerned States served as reconciliation efforts, thereby contributing to effective cooperation. Enhanced capacity would also enable national authorities to conduct investigations, prosecutions and punishments, in close cooperation with the international community. Cooperation was also crucial in situations where the Security Council made referrals to the Court, he said.
RHEE ZHA-HYOUNG (Republic of Korea) said the International Criminal Court had made a contribution to ending impunity for perpetrators of the most serious crimes, but as a “teenager” it had yet to overcome several growing pains to establish itself as a robust and solid institution for international criminal justice. The Court needed to enhance its efficiency and it was imperative that the universality of the Rome Statute be achieved. Cooperation between the States parties, international organizations, the United Nations and non-party Member States was vital. States parties should investigate grave crimes within their borders and prosecute or extradite criminals based on the principle of complementarity. The Court, the United Nations and other international organizations should work to improve the judicial capacity and overall competency of States parties at the national level by offering assistance and expertise.
The General Assembly took note of the report and the meeting was adjourned.