President of International Criminal Court Calls for Greater Cooperation in Holding Atrocity Crime Perpetrators Accountable

GA/11966
30 October 2017
Seventy-second Session, 36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)

President of International Criminal Court Calls for Greater Cooperation in Holding Atrocity Crime Perpetrators Accountable

Speakers in General Assembly Welcome Reversal of Withdrawal Decisions by South Africa, Gambia, Urging Burundi to Follow Suit

While the International Criminal Court — now more efficient and fully developed — had made significant strides in holding to account perpetrators of the world’s most serious crimes, fulfilling its mandate would ultimately require even greater cooperation from the international community, stressed its President, who briefed the General Assembly prior to its adoption of a resolution welcoming the Court’s annual report.

“The Court is not perfect, but it is working, it has matured, and it is delivering,” said Silvia Fernández De Gurmendi as she introduced the Court’s annual report.  The document — which the Assembly would later welcome through its adoption of a draft resolution (document A/72/L.3) without a vote — outlined several “unprecedented” efforts to improve the Court’s governance and the speed and quality of the justice it delivered, she said, as well as a new whistle-blower policy and other recent developments.

During the period from 2016-2017, she said, convictions or sentences had been issued in two trials against a total of six persons.  The first concerned Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, charged with the destruction of world heritage property in Timbuktu, Mali, while a second had been brought against Jean Pierre Bemba, the former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and four co‑accused.  Proceedings were also underway against Dominic Ongwen — who, together with Joseph Kony and others, stood accused of crimes against humanity committed by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda — following his 2015 surrender.

Trial hearings on the case against Bosco Ntaganda, the former leader of the March 23 (M23) armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were expected to finish early in 2018, she continued.  Meanwhile, the prosecution was currently presenting evidence in the case against Laurent Gbagbo, the former President of Côte d'Ivoire, and Charles Blé Goudé, both of whom stood accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during post‑election violence in that country between December 2010 and April 2011.  Also in 2017, the Court had unsealed an arrest warrant against Al‑Tuhamy Mohamad Khaled, suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Libya in 2011.

Expressing grave concern that requests for arrest or transfer remained outstanding for 15 individuals, she went on to urge the Security Council — which had referred the situations in Libya and Darfur to the Prosecutor — to take measures to ensure full cooperation with the Court.  “It is now widely accepted that there is an obligation to end impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, she said, adding: “The question is no longer whether to pursue justice, but rather when and how.”

Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, underlined the need to stand up for the victims of heinous crimes, stressing: “They deserve justice.”  Pointing out that almost two thirds of United Nations Member States were party to the Rome Statute — the treaty establishing the Court’s jurisdiction — he said the Court was crucial in guaranteeing justice and acted in cases when national judicial systems failed.  Not only was the Court meant to serve as an instrument for prosecution, but it also helped prevent serious crimes, he said, adding that achieving its universality was crucial in guaranteeing that heinous crimes did not go unpunished.

In the ensuing debate, many speakers expressed support for the Court’s work and recent progress in improving its effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.  Many welcomed the reversal by the Gambia and South Africa of earlier decisions to leave the Rome Statute — while calling on Burundi to do the same — as others hailed the Court’s first judgement in a case relating to the destruction of cultural property in Timbuktu, Mali.  Still other speakers voiced support for, or concern over, the imminent activation of the Rome Statute’s “Kampala Amendments” granting the Court jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

Canada’s representative, joining other speakers in welcoming the decisions by the Gambia and South Africa to remain in the Rome Statute, declared: “All victims, including African victims, have a right to justice.”  Indeed, the contributions of African States in support of the Court were invaluable to making justice a reality, and their steadfast support was crucial, she stressed.

Among those delegates underscoring the importance of the Security Council’s relationship with the Court was the representative of the European Union, who urged the Council to find ways to strengthen such cooperation in two cases it had recently referred to the Court — namely, those relating to the situations in Darfur and Libya.  States must refrain from shielding or hiding those responsible for the most serious crimes, he added.

Striking a similar tone, the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Council’s active follow-up on its referrals to the Court was critical.  Calling, in that regard, for cooperation on such issues as the arrest and surrender of individuals, she noted with deep concern that the Security Council had failed to respond to several notifications of findings of non‑cooperation.

Peru’s representative stressed that international justice required political support from all Member States of the United Nations, not just States parties to the Rome Statute.  Echoing calls for all countries to comply with the Court’s orders and support and protect victims at all stages of trials, he said Security Council reform was also imperative — especially regarding its working methods and the use of the veto.  In that regard, he voiced Peru’s support for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s proposed Code of Conduct prohibiting the Council’s five permanent members from using their veto power in cases of mass atrocities.

Several speakers also voiced concern about the funding of cases referred to the Court by the Security Council.  In that regard, Argentina’s representative noted that the costs emanating from such referrals had, to date, been borne only by States parties to the Rome Statute.  Instead, they should be funded by the entire United Nations membership, as fighting impunity was a critical function of the Organization.  There was also room for better cooperation between the Court and the Council’s sanctions committees as well as its working group on children in armed conflict.

Diverging with other speakers on the connection between the Court and the Council, Sudan’s representative said that relationship was a clear example of the politicization of the Court’s work.  Any attempt to deviate from the prescribed relationships between United Nations bodies jeopardized the Organization’s goals and seriously endangered its legitimacy, he warned, calling on both the Court and the United Nations to abide by the letter and spirt of the Rome Statute without trying to integrate the Court into the United Nations system.

Regarding the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute — whose threshold for activation had recently been reached as more States ratified them — the representative of the United States voiced his delegation’s serious concerns with respect to the crime of aggression amendments, which it believed contained dangerous ambiguities regarding basic issues, including which States and what conduct would be covered.  Such issues should be clarified before States parties to the Court decided to activate the amendments, he said, emphasizing that concrete steps in that regard would help ensure that States would be able to join when necessary to take action to prevent atrocities and safeguard collective security.

Among delegates hailing from countries involved in cases currently under review by the Court was Nigeria’s representative, who noted that the entity was analyzing information on several sexual and gender-based crimes allegedly committed during the armed conflict between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s security forces.  Pledging to continue to provide support to all ongoing examinations, he said Nigeria had no intention of pulling out of the Rome Statute.  Rather, it would continue to work alongside States parties and the Court itself towards improving its working methods and ensuring a fairer and more efficient delivery on its mandate.

The Philippines’ representative, referring to the campaign launched against illegal drugs in his own country, said it was tragic that many deaths had resulted outside of lawful police operations.  Those instances were under investigation by the Philippines’ criminal justice system, he said, emphasizing that the country had a functioning system capable of prosecuting crimes under the Rome Statute.  The International Criminal Court was a “court of last resort”, he stressed, adding that “biased intervention, even if merely vocal, is not necessary”.

Before the Assembly for today’s discussion was, in addition to the Court’s annual report, a report of the Secretary-General on “Information relevant to the implementation of article 3 of the Relationship Agreement between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court” (document A/72/342) and another titled “Expenses incurred and reimbursement received by the United Nations in connection with assistance provided to the International Criminal Court” (document A/72/372) as well as its corrigendum (document A/72/372/Corr.1).

Also speaking were the representatives of Mexico (introducing draft resolution A/72/L.3), Denmark (also on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Slovenia, Japan, Costa Rica, Romania, Australia, Poland, Liechtenstein, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, El Salvador, Italy, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Cyprus, Guatemala, Estonia, Switzerland, Uruguay, Ukraine, Senegal, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Netherlands, Georgia, Bolivia, Spain, Ghana, Cuba, Samoa, the Russian Federation, Myanmar and Syria, as well as the State of Palestine

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 November, to discuss the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.

Opening Remarks

 

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said it was essential to stand up for the victims of heinous crimes.  Stressing the need also to work to prevent the reoccurrence of those crimes, he noted that almost two thirds of United Nations Member States were party to the Rome Statute.  The International Criminal Court was crucial in guaranteeing justice and acted when national judicial systems failed.  The Court also supported the ultimate goal of achieving a more peaceful and just world for all people.  In that context, cooperation was critical to ensure that victims were not denied justice.

 

Victims and their families had suffered the greatest loss, he continued, stressing: “They deserve justice.”  He called into question “our own relevance as guarantors of justice” and noted that the Court was meant to serve as an instrument not only for the prosecution but also the prevention of serious crimes.  The Court continued to work to fulfil its mandate under the Statute, which reaffirmed the processes and principles of the United Nations.  Achieving its universality was crucial in guaranteeing that heinous crimes did not go unpunished.  Ending impunity was essential in that regard.  “All of us have an obligation to prevent and respond to these grave crimes,” he said, emphasizing the need to really commit to justice.

 

Introduction of Report by President of International Criminal Court

SILVIA FERNÁNDEZ DE GURMENDI, President of the International Criminal Court, introducing the Secretary-General’s note containing the Court’s annual report (document A/A/71/349) outlined significant efforts to improve the Court’s governance and the speed and quality of the justice it delivered.  Its judges had sought to improve and accelerate judicial proceedings through a collective assessment of the legal framework and methods of work, holding three retreats aimed at fostering the development of a more cohesive judicial culture among judges who hailed from different backgrounds, legal systems and traditions.  The third retreat, held in Poland this year, had focused on appeals issues, while the previous two had focused on pretrial and trial issues.

“These collective discussions were unprecedented,” she stressed, adding that, for the first time, all judges had accepted that judicial independence within their respective cases and chambers was in no way incompatible with exchanging views and experiences aiming to identify best practices and recommending common responses to some challenges.  Among the ground-breaking outcomes of that work, she described the establishment of a publicly available Chambers Practice Manual and efforts to harmonize the Court’s approach to certain matters by spelling out how certain procedural phases should be carried out.  There had also been a clear and drastic reduction of the time required for some phases or aspects of the Court’s proceedings.  As the Court’s heavy workload was likely to continue, more similar efforts were needed.  “The Court is not perfect,” she said, “but it is working, it has matured, and it is delivering.”

Describing efforts to strengthen the safeguards ensuring that the Court’s officials and staff members upheld the highest standards of integrity and professionalism — including the ongoing development of a new policy for the protection of whistle-blowers — she went on to outline its work over the reporting period.  Convictions or sentences had been issued in two trials against a total of six persons, with the first one concerning Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for the destruction of world heritage property in Timbuktu, Mali.  The second was brought by the Prosecutor against Jean Pierre Bemba and four co‑accused for offences against the administration of justice related to the alleged corruption of witnesses in the main case against Mr. Bemba.  The conviction and sentences in that case were now being considered on appeal.

Three trials were currently ongoing before the Court’s Chambers, she continued, noting that the latest had been brought against Dominic Ongwen in December 2016.  More than 10 years had elapsed since arrest warrants had been issued against him, together with Joseph Kony and others, for alleged crimes against humanity committed by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda.  Mr. Ongwen had surrendered of his own will and was transferred to the Court in January 2015, thus allowing judicial proceedings to begin, and the trial was now progressing at high speed.  Nevertheless, she said, that case illustrated many of the difficulties beyond the Court’s control, and the fact that they could only be overcome with the international community’s cooperation. 

She went on to describe a similar challenge, demonstrated in the ongoing trial of Bosco Ntaganda, who had been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Mr. Ntaganda had been under an arrest warrant from 2006 to 2013, when he had also finally surrendered.  Trial hearings on that case were expected to finish early in 2018, she said, adding that the third trial in progress was the case of Laurent Gbagbo, the former President of Côte d'Ivoire, and Charles Blé Goudé, both accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during post‑election violence in that country between December 2010 and April 2011.  The Prosecution was currently presenting its evidence and that trial was expected to continue throughout the next year.

While trials were the Court’s most visible and resource-intensive work, she said, much was also happening in its Pre‑Trial and Appeals divisions.  Outlining some of that work — including the unsealing of the arrest warrant against Al‑Tuhamy Mohamad Khaled, suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Libya in 2011 — she said the Court was also active with several cases at different stages of judicial proceedings.  The Prosecutor also continued to investigate activities relating to 10 situations, as well as her primary examinations in 10 countries on four continents.  Noting that none of those activities would have been possible without the cooperation of States, she said it was of grave concern that several suspects remained at large despite having arrest warrants issued against them.  Currently, requests for arrest or transfer issued by the Court were outstanding against 15 persons in six different situations.

“It is essential for our justice efforts that these individuals are brought before the Court,” she emphasized, appealing to all States to contribute to those efforts.  She also urged the Security Council, which had referred the situations in Darfur and Libya to the Prosecutor, to take measures to ensure full cooperation with the Court.  The latest arrest warrant, now outstanding, had been issued on 15 August 2017 against Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al‑Werfalli, suspected of having committed, as well as ordered the commission of, murder as a war crime in the context of incidents in Benghazi, Libya, or surrounding areas between June 2016 and July 2017.

Recalling that the Court had been created on the belief that the most serious crimes constituted a threat to international peace and security, she stressed that, in investigating and prosecuting them, it did not target States or regions but instead sought to protect victims.  The Rome Statute recognized the importance of national ownership of justice efforts, containing elements intended to give victims a voice at all stages of the proceedings as participants in their own right and not merely as witnesses of crimes.  Much had been done to improve the way the Court communicated and reached out to victims, ensuring that they had sufficient knowledge of its work and of their rights in its proceedings.  Almost 13,000 victims were currently participating in the Court’s various proceedings, including more than 4,000 victims in the Ongwen trial, a scale which demonstrated both the Court’s success in improving victims’ access to justice as well as “the huge task ahead”, she said.

Another crucial aspect of the Court’s work was its focus on reparations for the harm suffered by victims, she said, recalling that the Rome Statute was the first instrument of its kind to provide for such redress.  Reparations proceedings were currently ongoing in four cases, including those of Germain Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mr. Al Mahdi in Mali.  States parties to the Rome Statute had established a Trust Fund for Victims, funded by voluntary donations, to contribute to implementing the Court’s reparations orders.  While the Court was not part of the United Nations, it shared its core goals and values and was often engaged in situations that were also of concern for the Organization.  Recalling that the two organizations were formally linked through a Relationship Agreement, she said that, in the last 30 years, the concept of accountability had been firmly enshrined in the global agenda.

“It is now widely accepted that there is an obligation to end impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, she said, adding: “The question is no longer whether to pursue justice, but rather when and how.”  Pointing to “huge gaps” where impunity continued to flourish, she said they could only be addressed through the joint justice efforts of international, regional and national systems, and underscored that each State had the primary responsibility to prevent, investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  “International and regional jurisdictions can only supplement but never replace the actions of States,” she said, describing efforts to build relevant capacities at the national level.

Statements

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), introducing the draft resolution titled “Report of the International Criminal Court” (A/72/L.3), briefly outlined the text, adding that he wished the Assembly would adopt it without a vote.  Speaking in his national capacity, he said that over the reporting period, the Court had made significant progress “with many firsts”, including in relation to the cases regarding Mali, Central African Republic, and Uganda.  “These are significant contributions in the area of international criminal justice,” he said.

He highlighted the need for increased cooperation between the Security Council and the Court, particularly in making referrals to the Court.  He also urged Member States who had not yet done so to strengthen international humanitarian law and expressed regret over the Council’s failure to act in that regard.  The exchange between the Court and the Security Council would benefit from a structured dialogue.  He underscored the role of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in providing a platform to issues related to the Rome Statute regarding legal and judicial reform.  States had the primary responsibility to ensure justice and to that end, they required technical assistance.  Mexico remained committed to ensuring international criminal justice and ending impunity.

IB PETERSEN (Denmark), also speaking on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said the Court’s success depended on cooperation with other stakeholders.  Many States and international organizations had made important contributions to it, but it was a continued cause for concern that the number of outstanding arrest warrants had remained high.  He strongly urged States to cooperate fully and effectively with the Court. Its promise of justice for victims corresponded with the reach of its jurisdiction, first and foremost with how universally the Rome Statute had been ratified.  He expressed deep disappointment and concern that the Government of Burundi had decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute a few days ago.  States parties critical of the Court should seek solutions within the framework and fundamental principles of the Rome Statute, he said, stressing the importance of continued dialogue.

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the Court continued to be a beacon of hope to victims of crimes seeking justice.  That included thousands of women and children who were often the ones most affected by the actions of criminals that showed blatant disregard for the sanctity of life.  Noting that the Trust Fund for Victims had assisted over 455,000 victims, she urged States and other entities to contribute to the Fund so that assistance programmes could continue to reach those in need.  She reiterated the Community’s commitment to promote the universality of the Rome Statute and urged all States which had not yet done so, to take the necessary steps to ratify and fully implement it.

The Security Council’s capacity to refer a situation to the Court was crucial to promote accountability, she emphasized.  Meanwhile, active follow-up on referrals to ensure cooperation, namely the arrest and surrender of individuals was necessary to ensure that justice was delivered.  She noted with deep concern that the Security Council had failed to respond to several notifications of findings of non‑cooperation.  CARICOM was also disturbed by the failure of some States to honour their legally binding obligations to cooperate with the Court in the execution of outstanding arrest warrants.  “Those who fail to cooperate with the Court to bring criminals to justice are contributing to a culture of impunity,” she said.  Expressing concern over the increasingly heavy workload of the Court, she stressed that the Court must be provided with the necessary resources to properly discharge its mandate.

ERIC CHABOUREAU, European Union, said the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes as well as ensuring justice for victims were crucial for a just and equitable society.  The bloc and its members were strong supporters of the Court as an essential institution for the promotion of a rules-based world order, a key custodian of international humanitarian law and human rights and a source of hope for millions of victims of atrocities committed around the world.  Complementarity was at the heart of the system set up by the Rome Statute, he said, adding that the responsibility to bring delinquents to justice was incumbent on Member States themselves.  Calling on all States parties to adopt national laws aligned with the Rome Statute, he said the European Union was engaged in several initiatives aimed at encouraging States to cooperate in the fight against impunity, including by improving means of mutual assistance.

Welcoming the decisions of South Africa and the Gambia to revisit their previous decisions to withdraw from the Rome Statute, and expressing regret that Burundi had not done the same, he welcomed recent decisions by other States to accept various amendments to the Statute.  Noting, in that regard, that in December the Assembly of States Parties would hold a discussion on the Court’s jurisdiction in crimes of aggression, he said the Court’s heavy workload demonstrated the high confidence in its work.  Welcoming its first ruling in the case of destruction of cultural property, as well as efforts to reform its processes and improve its efficiency and effectiveness, he stressed that cooperation with the Court was critical in cases referred by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.  Noting that the Council’s prerogative to make such a referral could create the duty of accountability in States where the situations had occurred, he urged the Council to find ways to strengthen such cooperation in the two recent cases referred to the Court — namely, those relating to situations in Darfur and Libya.  In addition, States must refrain from shielding or hiding those responsible for the most serious crimes, and those that had not done so should consider ratifying or acceding to the Rome Statute.

FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru), expressing his country’s support for the fight against impunity, for the Court’s work and for the values and ideals of the Rome Statute, recalled that in 2016 Peru had ratified the agreement on the Court’s privileges and immunities.  Despite the Court’s outstanding work, international justice required political support from all Member States of the United Nations, not just States parties to the Rome Statute, he stressed, urging countries to comply with arrest and surrender orders and to support and protect victims at all stages of trials.  Peru supported the adoption of practical measures to streamline the Court’s proceedings and improve its efficacy, he said, while also expressing concern about the Court’s funding.  It was imperative to move towards comprehensive Security Council reform, especially regarding its working methods and the use of the veto, he stressed, voicing Peru’s support for the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s proposed Code of Conduct prohibiting the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities.  He also urged the 71 Member States that had not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute, while expressing concern that some had recently decided to withdraw from it.

DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), expressing support for the swift activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, said it was reassuring that two Member States had revoked their decisions to withdraw from the Rome Statute.  Noting that the Court lacked enforcement powers and outreach capacities, she stressed the need for support from States and civil society.  While the cooperation between the Organization and the Court was generally exemplary, there was room for improvement.  The Security Council could contribute to the Court’s effectiveness through its work on sanctions-related matters such as travel bans and freezing of assets.  Stressing that cooperation with the Court by States parties to the Rome Statute was not a policy choice but an international legal obligation, she expressed concern about the 15 arrest warrants that were still outstanding.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), noting that his country was the largest financial contributor to the Court, recalled the Court President’s visit to Tokyo earlier in the year, during which he had participated in high-level discussions about promoting the universality of the Rome Statute in the Asia‑Pacific region.  Japan was working with Chile to co‑chair the Study Group on Governance to enhance the Court’s efficiency.  In the long run, he added, the Court should aim at becoming a truly universal criminal court so that it could gain strong support for its work.  Welcoming the decisions by the Gambia and South Africa to rescind their withdrawal from the Court and also the understanding on the participation of Observer States in meetings of the Assembly of States Parties, he expressed hope that this would lead to more States becoming parties to the Rome Statute in the future.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica) said the Court was undeniably the greatest achievement of international criminal justice, born to put an end to the most heinous crimes.  He welcomed the universality of the Rome Statute, called on States to ratify the Kampala Amendments, and commended the work of the Trust Fund and its partners for continuing to provide assistance to more than 450,000 people.  Emphasizing the need to put an end to the impunity of heinous crimes, he reiterated that the Court was not established to replace national courts and emphasized that the primary duty to ensure justice lay with national courts.  The Court could step in if a State was unwilling or unable to carry out an investigation.  Failing to cooperate with the Court and claiming that it was not impartial was an “unacceptable argument”.  In order to continue with its mandate, the Court required the full cooperation and support of the international community, including the United Nations.  The Court was also helping the Security Council to fulfil its mandate, he added.

ŞTEFAN RACOVIŢĂ (Romania) said that the heavy workload highlighted in the Court’s latest report pointed to the need for a permanent court for international crimes, as well as the importance of enhancing the entity’s efficiency and effectiveness.  More efforts should be undertaken to ensure full and prompt cooperation with the Court, particularly regarding arrests and surrender of suspects.  Romania supported the activities aimed at enhancing judicial cooperation and garnering diplomatic support and greater awareness of the Court’s mandate.  Achieving the universality of the Rome Statute remained a long-term goal to be pursued jointly by the Court and the States parties.  The activity of the Court should not be evaluated in simplistic, quantitative terms, but with due consideration to its long-term impact, serving as a deterrent to the most serious crimes under international law and a powerful tool to advance the culture of accountability.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) welcomed that the Court had not wavered in seeking to fulfil its mandate, and in doing so, had made significant progress in the fight to end impunity over the past year.  The Court and the United Nations were striving to achieve the same goals, and in that connection, the Court was a key partner of the United Nations.  If the international community was committed to reorienting the Organization to focus on prevention, the deterrent effect of consistent and reliable justice must not be neglected.  Where States with jurisdiction were unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes, the Court had a critical role to play.  Potential perpetrators would think twice if it was clear that the General Assembly stood behind the International Criminal Court and that the international community was serious about holding those responsible for serious international crimes to account.

MICHAŁ WĘCKOWICZ (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, said that “obviously the Court cannot deliver justice on its own”, and emphasized the importance of complementarity, cooperation and assistance of States.  Noting that his country was an incoming member of the Security Council for the years 2018‑2019, he said he recognized that boosted cooperation between the Council and the Court could render a significant service to the cause of international peace and security.  The Rome Statute had created a system in which States parties were equal in their rights and obligations.  While 124 accessions or ratifications were a significant number, that number should increase, as it was essential in supporting the universalization of the Statute.  He also underlined Poland’s commitment to activating the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  Throughout history, Poland repeatedly had fallen victim to aggression, he said, adding: “It is our dream to save others from such cruelties.”

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that while the Court had initially experienced a wave of collective enthusiasm, it was soon met with strong opposition and a systematic effort to undermine its independent functioning.  That should come as no surprise: the Court’s mandate was to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes under international law.  Regulating the use of force was one of the key objectives in creating the United Nations and now stood at the genesis of the international criminal justice project.  The international community was finally in a position to make the historic decision to give a permanent international tribunal competence to hold persons in leadership positions criminally accountable for the most serious forms of the illegal use of force.  He recalled the main features of the Kampala Amendments, emphasizing that they fully safeguarded the Court’s judicial independence.  The scope of jurisdiction under the Kampala Amendments was deep but narrow as it excluded all nationals of the 70 States that had yet to join the Rome Statute.  He expressed hope that efforts to bridge that remaining gap would be successful in the next few weeks.

CHO TAE‑YUL (Republic of Korea) said the International Criminal Court should firmly establish itself as a robust and reliable institution for international criminal justice with the help of stakeholders, including States parties.  To promote universality and enhance cooperation with States, the Court must reach out to interested regions, States and relevant organizations.  The eighth High-Level Regional Seminar for Fostering Cooperation, held this year, provided an invaluable opportunity to enhance cooperation with Asia‑Pacific States.  In regards to cooperation with non‑State parties, he expressed regret that the Court-issued requests for arrest and surrender remained outstanding for 15 individuals.  He called for the universal application of the Rome Statute, as wider participation of States would lead to stronger support for the Court. In that respect, he welcomed the decisions by the Gambia and South Africa concerning their membership and encouraged the remaining States to follow suit.  He also expressed appreciation of the Court’s focus on streamlining procedures, particularly through updates to the Chambers Practice Manual and the adoption of meaningful amendments to the Regulations of the Court.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the Court’s significant work had once again demonstrated that it was a vital tool to combat impunity and bring about the international rule of law.  Reaffirming Argentina’s support for that organ as well as its determination to help bring about the universality of the Rome Statute, he said Argentina had ratified the Kampala Amendments, welcoming the fact that the Court had reached the necessary threshold to bring it into force.  Calling on all States parties to ensure the Court’s appropriate funding, he drew attention to the latter’s special relationship with the United Nations, and expressed several concerns related to the Security Council’s referrals to it — especially in the context of their funding, which to date had been paid exclusively by the States parties.  Those costs should instead be borne by the United Nations as a whole, he stressed, pointing out that fighting impunity was a critical function of the Organization and that the Court’s work in that area could be jeopardized if appropriate funding was not ensured.  In that regard, he added that there “is room for greater and better cooperation” between the Court and the Council, especially its sanctions committees and its working group on children in armed conflict.

CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand) said that challenges to the Court’s universality affected its credibility and had to be taken seriously.  He called upon States to listen to each other’s views and constructively debate concerns raised by all, addressing them to the extent possible while preserving the Court’s integrity.  He welcomed the decisions made by South Africa and the Gambia to remain as States parties to the Rome Statute, encouraging Burundi to reconsider its withdrawal.  Recognizing the important role of the Security Council in achieving accountability for international crimes, New Zealand urged that body to carefully consider the use of its referral powers to avoid perception that it was using such referrals as a political tool in the midst of conflict.  When the Council decided to refer a situation to the Court, it should do so with a clear commitment to follow up and ensure that the it received necessary support, cooperation and resources.  In that regard, his country shared the Court’s concern about the lack of follow-up of Council referrals.  Costs incurred by the Court as a result of decisions by United Nations organs should be attributed to and accounted from the Organization’s budget, he said.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, Jr. (Philippines), highlighting the importance of Nuremberg’s legacy, emphasized the need for universality and called for more countries to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute.  The Security Council should refrain from using their veto in situations involving mass atrocity crimes, he added, voicing support for a candid dialogue to address allegations of inequality in the work of the Court.  Referring to the campaign against illegal drugs in his own country, he said they would refuse to legalize drugs to make addiction a benign condition, but would fight the problem by upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights.  It was tragic that many deaths had resulted outside of lawful police operations, he said, stressing that those cases were under investigation by the Philippines’ criminal justice system and that many had actually been committed by unknown groups taking advantage of the Government’s campaign.  Because accountability was an overriding concern, President Duterte had ordered an internal cleansing of the entire police organization.  As a State Party to the Rome Statute, the Philippines would cooperate with the Court, which was indeed a “court of last resort”.  In that regard, he emphasized that the Philippines had a functioning criminal justice system capable of prosecuting crimes under the Rome Statute and that “biased intervention, even if merely vocal, is not necessary”.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), noting the Court’s high workload, emphasized its major achievements in the reporting period.  Despite major progress, a lot of work still remained with many major challenges ahead.  Regarding the inclusion of acts of aggression under the Court’s jurisdiction, he underscored the role of the Kampala Amendments in strengthening the work of the Court.  As one of the first countries to ratify the Rome Statute, El Salvador was continuing national procedures in various sectors to assist the Court in fulfilling its mandate.  Furthermore, his country was a successful example of the universalization of the Rome Statute and would stand ready to provide its example to other countries considering Statute ratification.  He went on to urge those that had not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute to achieve full universality in order to foster justice and peace worldwide.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said that the fight against impunity remained a common concern of the international community.  The Rome Statute was a cornerstone in the fight against impunity, creating the first and only permanent international criminal tribunal.  The Statute shared many of the essential objectives of the United Nations and the United Nations Charter.  Universal participation to the Rome Statute continued to be an objective that must be pursued.  It was essential to not forget that the values enshrined in the Statute were already universal in character.  It was also particularly important that the international community increased efforts to uphold the concept of complementarity and worked together to strengthen domestic systems as the International Criminal Court must remain a Court of last resort.  He also highlighted the crucial role of the Trust Fund for Victims in providing redress and reparations for victims.

BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile), describing the Court as a “singular landmark of our times” as well as a “beacon in combating impunity”, recalled that Chile had actively and resolutely supported it from its inception.  Nevertheless, Chile was aware of the challenges facing the Court, as it could not carry out its work without the due cooperation of States.  Calling on all countries to fully cooperate in that regard — especially by complying with arrest warrants and surrendering evidence — she warned that a lack of cooperation could seriously impact the delivery of justice to victims.  The Court also required the necessary resources to carry out its mandate, she stressed, adding that when the Security Council referred a case to it, the necessary financial resources should also be provided.  In addition, the Council should follow up on all the cases it referred to the Court, paying particular attention to situations arising from States’ lack of cooperation.  Noting that the Trust Fund for Victims had provided support to some 455,000 victims to date, she said such support was one of the basic reasons for acceding to the Rome Statute.  Urging States that were not yet parties to that agreement to ratify or accede to it, she added that they should “think hard” about their relationship with the Court, and welcomed the decisions of several countries to rescind their withdrawals.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), noting that his country had enshrined numerous laws in line with the work of the Court — such as those against genocide, the forced disappearance of persons and homicide for political reasons — said Paraguay also observed the full national implementation of the Rome Statute and codified its cooperation with the Court.  To that “important progress” he added that the United Nations itself should also strengthen its relationship with the Court, especially in such areas as peacekeeping and the appearance of United Nations staff as witnesses.  Among other things, he welcomed the Court’s work with victims, and especially the Trust Fund’s provision of reparations and physical, psychological and materials support.  Urging States to increase their financial contributions to that Fund, he also urged those States that had not yet done so to accede completely to the Rome Statute.  That was the only way to ensure the Court’s successful functioning, he stressed.

CATHERINE BOUCHER (Canada) called on Member States that had not yet done so to consider acceding to the Rome Statute.  “It is well-known that the Court cannot effectively accomplish its mandate without the necessary cooperation from States parties and others,” she added.  Despite major accomplishments, she said she remained troubled by cases of non‑cooperation, including in the area of arrest warrants, adding that all States must abide by their international commitments.  Welcoming the Gambia’s and South Africa’s decision to remain party to the Rome Statute, she said that she remained concerned by Burundi’s withdrawal from the Court.  “All victims, including African victims, have a right to justice,” she underscored, emphasizing that contributions of African States in support of the Court were invaluable to making justice a reality.  African States played an important role in both the establishment and development of the Court.  Their steadfast support was crucial.  She also said she looked forward to productive discussions on activating the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, as well as on budgetary and governance issues, while avoiding politicization and micromanagement.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) stressed that combatting impunity was a noble objective that was required for attaining justice.  It was an objective that should not be questioned, he said, although he also underscored that delivering justice was the primary responsibility of national relevant judiciary organs.  Sudan would continue to express its position on the Court in the context of informal negotiations on the draft resolution on the Court’s report.  The mandate of the United Nations and its organs was clear-cut and any attempt to deviate from the prescribed relationships between those bodies would take the Organization away from its goals and seriously endanger its legitimacy.  The relationship between the Court and the Security Council was a clear example of the politicization of the Court’s work, he emphasized, adding that the United Nations and the Court should abide by the letter and spirt of the Rome Statute without trying to integrate the Court into the United Nations system.  He expressed concern over the interference of the Court in the Secretariat’s work and said that the Court undermined international law and ran contrary to key international principles such as immunity.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) pointed out that not only were all South American countries party to the Rome Statute, but that Latin American and Caribbean States represented the second-largest regional group among States parties.  Any misperception regarding the Court’s activity could be dispelled by advancing the universality of the Statute.  Activation of the Kampala Amendments regarding the crime of aggression would greatly contribute to completing the international criminal justice system.  It would give additional meaning to the prohibition of the use of force, thus fostering a more stable, just and democratic world order.  As the Court’s workload continued to increase, Member States should remain seized of providing it with necessary resources.  Proper funding of Security Council referrals would improve the credibility both of the Court and of the United Nations.  Cooperation between the Court and the Security Council sanctions committees needed to be enhanced, especially in relation to travel bans and the freezing of assets.  He also commended the work of the Trust Fund for Victims.

VASILIKI KRASA (Cyprus), associating herself with the European Union, noted that the Court had awarded individual and collective reparations to victims of crimes for the first time and was very active with a number of proceedings relating to such reparations.  She emphasized that universal ratification of the Rome Statute remained the only realistic way of effectively addressing jurisdictional gaps and thereby current challenges and shortcomings.  Protecting cultural heritage was one of the priorities of the Cypriot chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.  In May, that had culminated in the conclusion of the Nicosia Convention on Offenses related to Cultural Property.  Her delegation was also preparing the launch of an informal Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, which would take a multifaceted approach including the international criminal justice angle by supporting existing initiatives and resolutions as well as relevant organizations.

CARLOS ALBERTO GARCÍA REYES (Guatemala) said that the support and cooperation of senior administrative staff of the United Nations was particularly vital to the work of the Court.  The Court was continuing to explore opportunities to increase cooperation with the United Nations.  In 2012, Guatemala held an open debate in the Security Council on the belief that structured dialogue between the Court and the Council would contribute to combating impunity.  It was imperative to increase cooperation between the Council and the Court so that they could take action together against impunity.  Cooperation was one of the fundamental pillars supporting the Court’s work.  In order to meet new and emerging challenges, States parties to the Rome Statute and United Nations Member States must do their best to strengthen cooperation and ensure rule of law and international peace and security.  The Court was independent, lasting and of historic importance, he added, calling on Member States to approve the resolution before the Assembly.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) pointed out that the Court was dealing with more cases and situations than ever before, encompassing most of the regions around the world.  That increasing workload demonstrated that many States entrusted their hopes for justice and accountability to the Court, which was a testimony to its good work.  In order for the Court to perform its mandate efficiently, effective cooperation with Governments as well as the Security Council would be crucial, the representative said, noting with concern the 15 outstanding arrest warrants.  Despite the different interpretations of some legal provisions, the international community must never forget that the main message civilized countries had agreed upon was that aggression was never acceptable.  There should be confidence in international law and its fair and impartial application by the Court.

DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland) said that States parties to the Rome Statute had the opportunity this year to step up the enforcement of the prohibition of the use of force.  At the upcoming session of the Assembly of States Parties, they would decide on activating the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  That activation of jurisdiction was in the core interest of the United Nations and its Member States.  The Security Council would have an additional instrument in its toolbox and would either be able to demand that an aggressor backed down or refer the situation to the Court for judgement.  States would benefit from enhanced protection, as aggressive leaders would fear prosecution and judgement.

CRISTINA CARRIÓN (Uruguay) said that the establishment of the Court was a landmark in efforts to combat impunity and serious crimes.  The importance of the Court’s establishment meant that Uruguay supported all actions to improve its management and in that context, she emphasized the need for all States to support the Court’s work.  Cooperation between States and the Court was vital for enabling the latter to achieve its objectives and end impunity.  Uruguay acknowledged that endeavours to improve the proceedings and actions of the Court required the support of all States in order to enhance its work.  It must be recalled that the Court had subsidiary jurisdiction and was meant to be complementary in nature.  The Rome Statute codified the development of international law, which meant that States had to amend legislation.  It was important to strengthen the role of the Court to ensure that accountability for the perpetrators of serious crimes remained a priority objective for States.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, commended the continuation of the Court’s examination of the situation in Ukraine, including the preliminary conclusions from the Office of the Prosecutor.  While recognizing the importance of the promotion of universal participation in the Rome Statute, Ukraine supported all efforts aimed at raising awareness and understanding of the functioning of the Court.  The international community must enhance its support to the Court’s efforts to combat impunity and ensure the right to justice for all victims.  He emphasized the importance of cooperating with the Court’s work, including with regard to States that were not parties to the Rome Statute.  Ukraine believed that the adoption of the draft resolution would demonstrate strong support for the Court, determination in the fight against impunity and contribute to the prevention of the most serious crimes.

MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal) said that a world of peace and stability required justice for all.  The Court’s report had demonstrated the role the institution was playing for the universal fight against impunity, he said.  It also showed that the first unique international court had made a significant contribution to delivering justice to millions.  “It also gives the affected population a feeling that they have been heard,” he said, urging all States to provide the Court with necessary resources so that the mechanism could carry out its work.  There were a lot of challenges.  Pooling efforts and resources would make it possible to win the fight against impunity and build a more just and fair world.  All victims, wherever they live, must have equal access to justice.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), noting that among its work over the reporting period the Court had opened 10 preliminary investigations including some in Nigeria, said the Office of its Prosecutor was analysing information on a variety of alleged crimes such as those of a sexual and gender-based nature in the armed conflict between Boko Haram and Nigeria’s security forces.  The Office had gathered information on Nigerian National Proceedings relating to eight potential cases identified, and had exonerated Nigeria in the allegations arising from its 2011 elections.  Pledging to continue to support the Court in those examinations, he went on to congratulate it for successfully handling its first case on the destruction of cultural property in attacks against historic monuments in Timbuktu, Mali, which had included an admission of guilt by Ahmed Faqi Al Madhi.  “This will serve as a good precedent for the Court in the handling of similar cases,” he said.  Joining other speakers in commending the decisions by South Africa and the Gambia to return to the Court, he said Nigeria had no intention of pulling out of the Rome Statute.  Rather, it would continue to work alongside States parties and the Court itself towards improving its working methods and ensuring a fairer and more efficient delivery on its mandate.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said note was taken of the Court’s increased workload and corresponding demand in the level of scope of cooperation between it and the United Nations.  The Court’s hearing and verdict in its first case involving the destruction of cultural property, as well as the admission of guilt by the accused, was a significant development.  One of the most compelling narratives emanating from the Court was the significant number of victims it had supported through its determination of reparations and also through its Trust Fund for Victims.  He underlined the need for a sustained flow of resources to the Trust Fund by State Parties, philanthropic organizations, foundations and individuals.

LUIS XAVIER OÑA GARCÉS (Ecuador) said that his country had continuously defended the Court’s role in guaranteeing justice and combating impunity.  He called on States to assist the Court in carrying out its mandate.  “It is the least we can do,” he added, noting the need to protect people from the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression.  The Court must have the necessary financial resources to carry out its work.  Strengthening international criminal justice meant approving the Kampala Amendments, whose validity would constitute a landmark in the annals of international justice.  It was also essential to guarantee resources for the Trust Fund for Victims of the crimes defined under the Rome Statute.  The Court was meant to complement national jurisdiction mechanisms, he said, adding that building up Member States capacity would help countries themselves take on cases.

LISE H.J. GREGOIRE-VAN-HAAREN (Netherlands) stressed that the primacy of ensuring accountability continued to lie with States, based on the principle of complementarity.  The adoption of national legislation to effectively implement the Rome Statute was of critical importance, she noted, adding: “Justice begins at the national level, not in The Hague.”  The Court was confronting a tremendous workload, and should be able to depend on States parties.  Financing needed to be adequate, she emphasized, and various forms of voluntary cooperation, such as the conclusion and implementation of framework agreements on relocating witnesses and executing judgments, constituted vital contributions for the Court’s functioning.  Welcoming decisions by some countries to reverse their previously announced intentions to withdraw from the Rome Statute, she commended the Court’s various organs for their comprehensive efforts to promote meaningful and constructive dialogue with those and other States parties.  Noting her country was host to the International Criminal Court, she called for the universality of the Rome Statute’s mission.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said that the prevention of the most heinous crimes was vital to upholding the rule of law at the international level, although sadly, as the world approached 20 years since the creation of the Court, crimes of unspeakable scale and gravity continued.  Accountability was important for a future free of violence by avoiding the recurrence of conflicts, as well as to ensure justice for victims of mass atrocity crimes.  Georgia reaffirmed its commitment to the work undertaken by the Court in accordance with its mandate, he said, noting that his Government had been cooperating with the Court since the start of the preliminary investigation into the 2008 war in Georgia.  As part of its full-fledged cooperation with the Court, Georgia had put in place adequate legislation to implement the Rome Statute at the national level and would continue to strongly support the Court in its critical work.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said his country had played an active part in the establishment and development of the Court. “The discovery of truth is a complex task,” requiring full cooperation of States and the support of the United Nations, he added.  Underscoring the need for greater cooperation and coordination between the Court and the Security Council, he said enhanced collaboration would help to achieve the shared objectives of the international community.  In today’s world, achievements of the Rome Statute were being tested.  The Court’s goal was to strengthen international criminal justice, he emphasized, calling for universal acceptance of the Rome Statute and urging all States which had not yet done so to join the treaty.  All States whether party to the Statute or not were responsible for taking action and ensuring justice.

JOSE MARTIN Y PEREZ DE NANCLARES (Spain) emphasized that the fight against the most serious international crimes constituted, without a doubt, an essential element of maintaining universal peace and justice.  Spain had been a strong advocate of the Court in its fight against impunity, he said, noting that the Court’s activities now reached four continents, which was appropriate given that the fight against impunity should know no borders.  Also welcomed was the influence of the Court on State-level proceedings against crimes under national jurisdiction, as well as the consolidation of the Court’s trust fund for victims.   However, he expressed concern over Burundi’s withdrawal from the Court, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between the Court and the Security Council.  Cooperation with the Court and the proper execution of its decisions was essential, he said, drawing attention to the need for the Court to achieve effectiveness and efficiency based on good governance and transparency.

Mr. OKAITEYE (Ghana), underscoring his country’s commitment to the Rome Statute and its unwavering support for the Court and its activities, said that Ghana’s democracy was strongly rooted in respect for the rule of law.  While the Court and the Security Council had different roles in addressing grave crimes, those roles were complementary, as rightly indicated in the Court’s report.  The primary responsibility of national jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes defined in the Statute remained critical to ending impunity for international crimes.  Noting the heavy workload of the Court in the period under review, he called for greater capacity-building at the national level so that domestic courts could take ownership of some of the trials.  He also urged State parties to continue to support the Trust Fund for Victims and to sustain its assistance programmes.

CARLOS TRUJILLO (United States) said his country remained deeply committed to accountability for atrocity crimes, and continued to support mechanisms at all levels that worked towards that goal.  Emphasizing that justice was most effective when delivered at the local level, he called on the Court and States to respect genuine domestic efforts to promote justice for atrocity crimes.  He noted the United States’ support for Security Council resolution 2379 (2017), saying timely steps to gather evidence that could be used in criminal prosecutions involving Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) would be particularly important.  The United States also supported efforts by Syrian non‑governmental organizations and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to document human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations in Syria.  He recalled the United States’ serious concerns with respect to the crime of aggression amendments, which it believed contained dangerous ambiguities regarding basic issues, such as which States and what conduct would be covered by the amendments.  Such issues should be clarified before States parties to the Court decide to activate the amendments, he said, emphasizing that concrete steps in that regard would help ensure that States would be able to join when necessary to take action to prevent atrocities and safeguard collective security.

ANET PINO RIVERO (Cuba) said that various issues such as the situation with armed conflict, foreign interventions and the flouting of the principles of international law directly affected people, as did attempts to withdraw from the Rome Statute.  Despite the provisions of the Statute, the Court did not operate independently, which violated the principles of transparency and impartiality.  The Security Council’s referral of matters to the Court constituted a constant violation of international law.  Cuba asserted its position for international justice that was fair, independent and free of political interests.  The Court could not ignore international treaties or principles of international law.  She went on to express her country’s serious concern about the precedent set whereby judicial proceedings were pursued against citizen of States that were not parties to the Rome Statute.  Nevertheless, her country was committed to combatting impunity, international criminal justice and complied with the principles of transparency and impartiality.

MIRIAMA HERENUI BETHAM-MALIELEGAOI (Samoa), noting that there were now 124 States parties to the Rome Statute, expressed hope that the Sixteenth Assembly of States Parties would bring about the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  Recalling that her country had hosted the Court’s President during the recent Pacific Island Forum held in Apia, she called upon Member States, especially small island developing States with no military capacity, to consider ratifying the Rome Statute.  For Samoa, being a State party to that Statute ensured the protection of its nationals and participation in the fight against impunity.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, pledged its full cooperation with the Court and said it had acted accordingly since it joined the entity.  The State of Palestine had submitted extensive communications to the Court regarding the crimes committed by Israeli officials in relation to illegal settlements and the attacks against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip during 2014.  In the last three years where the preliminary examination in the situation in Palestine had been underway, Israel had intensified the pace of its crimes notably in relation to settlements.  Israeli leaders had also confessed not only their knowledge of the existence of such crimes but also their intent to commit them and continue doing so relentlessly.  Palestine remained an important test for the credibility of the Court, a test the Court could not afford to fail.  Preserving and empowering the Court was of the utmost importance to ensure protection for future generations and to fulfil the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

Action

The Assembly then turned to take action on the draft resolution titled “Report of the International Criminal Court” (document A/72/L.3).

The representative of Sudan said his country was committed to ending impunity, but reiterated that that responsibility lay with national Governments.  Sudan rejected any dealings with the Court, and reaffirmed that it had no obligation to it in line with the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.  The ongoing effort to push the work of the Court in the General Assembly was something that ran counter to progress.  The Court was a separate entity and did not have any relation to the United Nations.  Sudan would not be affected by the resolution to be adopted and did not give any consideration to it.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution without a vote.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country was committed to combating impunity but unfortunately the Court had not been able to demonstrate itself to be a worthy successor of the bodies that launched the international justice endeavour.  The text of the resolution had yet again been updated with just technical amendments.  It was high time to change the approach to drafting it.  “The resolution has turned into an artificially preserved document of hopes and aspirations that the international community imposed on the Court when it was set up,” he said.  Those hopes and aspirations did have much in common with the Court and the de facto situation in and around it.  Regarding some of the sentences the Court had delivered, he said enormous resources had been spent on them.  The Court’s investigation into abuses in Libya had been fruitless.  He shared the concerns of States in Africa and stood in solidarity with Iran regarding its statement on the double standards, selectivity and politicization that the Court allowed in its work.  That had led to the Ukrainian and Georgian delegations to abuse the Assembly’s podium today to bring forth their cases.  The Court’s reputation had undoubtedly deteriorated, he continued, noting the abuses that had been allowed by the Office of the Prosecutor in the Libya investigation.  He said he couldn’t even name one case in which the Court had contributed positively.  He could not support the text and had to disassociate from it.

Right of Reply

The representative of Sudan, responding to the statement by Estonia, said that Estonia’s statement was unacceptable and ran counter to diplomatic customs due to its direct attack on Sudan, the country’s people and its President.  Estonia should focus on its own domestic issues and not preach to any other country.  He went on to note that Sudan had no obligation to the Court, as it was not a State party to the Rome Statute.

The representative of Myanmar, responding to the statement by Bangladesh, said that his country was committed to an agenda of peace and had every intention of implementing its international commitments.  Regarding the humanitarian situation in Rakhine state, the Government had identified several priorities, including repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation, and the establishment of sustainable peace and development.  In those efforts, Myanmar was working in close cooperation with the United Nations, although support from the international community was crucial.

The representative of Syria said that his country disassociated itself from any consensus on the Court’s report, and noted that due to the selective implementation of the notion of justice, Syria had decided to disassociate itself from the Court after it became a deficient, partial institution.  He expressed concern that some of the statements heard during the day referenced issues directly related to his country, including threats to refer the situation in Syria to the Court, which was irrelevant to the theme of the session.

For information media. Not an official record.