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Statement by Mr. Lauri Bambus, Under-Secretary for Legal and Consular Affairs, at the GA Session on the Report of the International Criminal Court

27.10.2011

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Sang-Hyun Song for introducing the seventh annual report of the ICC (see A/66/309) to the United Nations. The Court’s judicial activity is busier than ever, having 7 situations under investigation and 3 trials currently ongoing, as well as wide spectrum of preliminary investigations carried out in several regions of the world. Estonia conveys its gratitude to all members of the Court’s staff for their daily efforts in discharging the Court’s mandate to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to international community.

Estonia remains steadfastly committed to the principles of the Rome Statute and to promoting the rule of law.  As the President of Estonia stated in his statement to the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, “rule of law and respect for international law help ravaged and victimized societies regain their dignity and rebuild their communities”. Our joint efforts remain crucial in this regard.

My delegation would like to highlight four issues significant for the Court’s work. These are, firstly, the importance to pursue the universality of the Rome Statute, secondly, the significance of upcoming elections of the Prosecutor, as well as judges, thirdly, the necessity for better coordination in assisting national capacity building; and fourthly, the importance of engaging regional organizations and providing information about the activities of the Court.

We are particularly pleased to note an increase in the number of State Parties to the Rome Statute, with the accession of eight new states since the beginning of the reporting period. This month Cape Verde became the 119th State Party to the Statute which means that with the next accession the symbolic 120 States – the exact number voting for the Statute in 1998, will be reached. The steady growth of the number of State Parties demonstrates the increasing political will to combat impunity and enforce accountability. Estonia warmly welcomes this trend towards the universal adherence to the Rome Statute.

The Court is now entering a period of leadership transition. The election of a new Prosecutor is a crucial decision that will have a huge impact on different aspects of the Court’s life. The election process set up by the Bureau is aimed at succeeding in the consensual election of the best-qualified individual for the position. Clearly the work of the Search Committee gives the valuable input in this regard and we are pleased to note that all States have respected its mandate. It needs to be emphasized once again that the Search Committee is a committee of a technical nature with assisting function only - the final decision lies solely in the hands of the State Parties.

The Assembly will also elect six judges, which will result in a significant change to the bench’s composition. Estonia believes that the efficiency of the Court largely depends on States Parties electing qualified judges, in terms of their judicial expertise and experience in the practice of criminal law. We wish to thank civil society for their efforts in helping States to take informed decision in this regard.

Among others the new President of the Assembly of States Parties will be elected for the next triennium. At this point I am pleased to note that after consultations with all regional groups, Estonia has put forward the candidacy of Ambassador Tiina Intelmann for the post of the President of the Assembly of the State Parties to the Rome Statute.  If elected, she would be the first woman, as well as the first President working full time for the Assembly, which would be the additional contribution to its work. 

Turning briefly to the issue of complementarity, as we all know, pursuit of this principle is possible only if a state has the necessary legislative and institutional capability to prosecute the crimes included in the Rome Statute. More needs to be done to achieve better coordinated efforts of States, the Court, international organizations and civil society in assisting the national capacity building for effective investigation and prosecution of the most serious crimes. For example, an interactive platform for information sharing in this regard would be a commendable initiative.

Given the role of the ICC in international criminal justice, the positive engagement of regional organizations is one of the keys to the Court’s success. The ICC is currently active in many regions of the world via preliminary examinations, while the Court’s judicial proceedings are mostly taking place with regard to countries that have specifically requested the ICC to investigate or which the Security Council had referred to the ICC. Thus, the open and constructive dialogue between the ICC, regional organizations and the States is necessary to build the confidence and avoid possible misunderstandings. Against this backdrop we welcome the organization of regional conferences, held this year in Doha and Addis Abeba, and encourage further steps in this direction.

In conclusion I would like to reiterate Estonia’s strong and long-standing commitment to an independent and credible International Criminal Court.

Thank you.

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