Statement by H.E. Tiina Intelmann, Ambassador-at-Large for International Criminal Court at the Symposium for the 10th anniversary of the ICB and ICC
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to represent the Assembly of States Parties at this important event which is part of the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute. I wish to express my appreciation to the organizers of this timely event, in particular the support given by the Swiss Confederation, the Canton and the City of Geneva, for this initiative of bringing together an impressive array of practitioners, academics and members of civil society who work in the field of international criminal justice. I feel already that these are going to be an interesting three days. I will speak from the perspective of States Parties to the Rome Statute.
Since July 2002, the ICC has been consolidating its rightful place on the international arena. The Court was envisaged as one of last resort, to be limited to investigating and prosecuting only the most serious crimes, under the principle of complementarity whereby national jurisdictions have primacy over such crimes.
The number of States Parties has doubled from the initial 60 required for entry into force of the Statute in 2002 into 120 as of March 2012, with the number increasing every year, thus slowly but surely heading to the universality of the Rome Statute system.
Although in its initial phase, there were some expressions of doubt about the path the new Court would take, these concerns have been largely overcome, as evidenced by the number of self-referrals, as well as two referrals by the United Nations Security Council; it is important to note that the most recent referral by the Security Council, via resolution 1970 (2011), was adopted by consensus. References to the ICC are now common in different fora and in numerous resolutions at the United Nations and other international and regional organizations.
The ICC has an ever growing global reach. The Office of the Prosecutor is undertaking preliminary examinations in eight situations on four continents, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Republic of Korea, Nigeria and Palestine. The cases in the Court’s docket encompass Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Kenya, Northern Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur-Sudan. A few days ago, the Court rendered its first verdict in the Lubanga case.
The Court’s staff has gone from a dozen to 766 and the budget has reached the amount of €108 million for 2012, which is significant given the financial difficulties faced by the biggest contributors to the Court’s budget.
These facts and figures constitute a tangible expression of the firm determination of the international community to give the Court increased support and to make it the reference point for international criminal justice.
The Rome Statute system has maintained its dynamism over the years, with the 2010 Review Conference held in Kampala resulting in the adoption by consensus of two amendments to the Statute: a) defining the crime of aggression and the conditions under which the Court would exercise its jurisdiction over such crime, and b) amending article 8 to include as a war crime the use of certain weapons in an armed conflict not of an international character.
The process of considering the ratification of such amendments is well underway in some countries, with the Parliament of Luxembourg having approved the ratification of the crime of aggression amendment in February, while Liechtenstein did do in March; San Marino deposited its instrument of ratification of the article 8 amendment in September 2011.
***The Court was established to serve the interests of justice. The sine que non requirement for attaining that objective is that the accused be given a fair trial. Furthermore, the right of victims to participate in the proceedings and to be represented by counsel therein has been an additional feature of the new institution. To this end, the Statute itself and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence were the object of intense and careful consideration. The defence counsel associations, including many individuals present at today’s gathering, have made vital contributions for the Court before and after the Rome conference.
The ICC has sought to disseminate information about the key role played by defence counsel in ensuring a fair trial. This has included organizing seminars that seek to increase the number of defence counsel in the list of counsel maintained by the Registrar, with a particular emphasis on women of the African region. Within the Court itself, the Office of Public Counsel for Defence and the Office of Public Counsel for Victims have made important contributions to safeguarding the rights of the accused and of victims.
The Rome Statute entered into force much earlier than many expected and yet the system it set in place has been functioning better than many believed was possible. After a decade, the time is right for a review of what we have done with a view to setting the course for where we wish to go. During this seminar we will be addressing many of the challenges which must be overcome in order to improve the way the Court functions, so as to make the dream of the Court envisioned in 1998 a reality. You can count on the support of the Assembly of States Parties in that endeavour.