New York

14 July 2016

Secretary-General's message to event marking International Criminal Justice Day [delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares]

I am pleased to send warm greetings to all participants at this commemoration of International Criminal Justice Day. I thank Italy and the International Criminal Court for organizing this gathering.

As we mark the eighteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, we can celebrate the common goals shared by the ICC and the United Nations. Both strive to maintain international peace and security, promote respect for human rights and secure the rule of law. The Court’s goals of ending impunity and ensuring accountability are closely aligned with the work of the United Nations. 

To realize our shared vision of a more peaceful, just and sustainable future, we must hold perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern to account.

This may seem like an obvious imperative, but the very idea of international criminal law and the International Criminal Court poses a challenge to authoritarians. International criminal law limits what they may do to acquire, exercise and retain power. The International Criminal Court stands as a guarantee, if all else fails, of such limits.

Thanks to the Court, Criminals can no longer be confident that force will win them impunity. That is why the ICC can expect to face constant challenges to its authority, attempts to destroy public trust in it, and other efforts to undermine its work. The cause of international criminal justice, and of the International Criminal Court, is a constant struggle.

We must always be ready to confront those who would reverse progress. We must do our utmost to give our children an inheritance of justice, accountability and determined, principled action against impunity.

The lifetime of this Court coincides with the birth and growth of an age of accountability. As we seek to advance this cause, the International Criminal Court can rely on the full and unwavering support and commitment of the United Nations, now and in the future.