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Statement by H.E. Ms. Tiina Intelmann, Ambassador-at-Large for International Criminal Court, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, at the UN Security Council open debate on the Rule of Law

19.01.2012

At the outset let me congratulate South Africa for organizing this debate. Estonia aligns itself with the statement by the representative of the European Union.

Estonia welcomes the increased focus that the UN is placing on the rule of law and justice through discussions here in the Security Council, in the General Assembly and through concrete activities of the United Nations system. In light of recent profound political changes in many parts of the world, and of new threats to international peace, it is even more important that the rule of law remains on the agenda of the UN.

This statement is mainly about the International Criminal Court. 

The relationship between the Court and the United Nations is of crucial importance in many ways.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Court. By now the institution has an established reputation and a respected role in the international arena. Signing the Rome statute in 1998, States agreed to create a permanent International Criminal Court as the court of last resort to end impunity for the most heinous international crimes. They also agreed to assume, on a national basis, primary responsibility for bringing perpetrators of such crimes to justice. At the present, the Rome Statute has 120 States Parties. The campaign for the universality of the Statute is continuing, supported by the States Parties, regional actors and the United Nations. As these efforts towards achieving the universal ratification of the Rome Statute are continuing, the need to work on strengthening national jurisdictions to be able to prosecute Rome Statute crimes is becoming more and more acute. The Court and States Parties are carrying out important activities in support of countries in need. It is clear, however, that the ability to prosecute international crimes must become an integral part of the broader rule of law activities of all major development actors if we want to succeed. The United Nations system is well placed to take a major share of responsibility in this. Our joint efforts to provide assistance for developing national capacities to cope with Rome Statute crimes would strengthen national justice systems as a whole.

I am glad to say that there is an ongoing dialogue between the Court, the Assembly of States Parties and the United Nations development system concerning this issue.

While combating impunity, the ultimate goal is preventing the commission of crimes in the first place.

The ability of the Court to fulfill its functions also depends on the ability and resolve of States Parties and other States to offer their cooperation. There are still a number of outstanding arrest warrants. States Parties are constantly working through their Bureau and their President, to ensure full cooperation with the Court especially in the crucial area of execution of arrest warrants. The Security Council has referred two cases to the ICC and in these cases too, arrest warrants are outstanding. Recently, two findings of non-cooperation were referred to the Security Council by the Court. Continuing international focus on cooperation with the International Criminal Court and international tribunals is of utmost importance for the quest of ending impunity to be credible and successful.

The face of those suffering from atrocious international crimes is very often that of the most vulnerable, of women and children. Addressing the plight of victims through broader community programs, including education, is one of the activities the Court has undertaken. These activities, funded by voluntary contributions, target affected communities and help in healing, while making a contribution to a deeper change in the society by helping them regain their dignity and rebuild their communities. Here again, interaction with development actors in the field is of great value.

Security Council resolution 1325 and other Council resolutions on women, peace and security and on children in armed conflict should remain high on the agenda of the United Nations. We are concerned by continued reporting about mass rapes as a method of war and the very low numbers of perpetrators that have been brought to justice. The only way to remedy this situation is to ensure that all national jurisdictions are able to investigate and prosecute the worst crimes under international law. Considering that the Council has recognized that conflict-related sexual violence is a threat to international peace and security, we hope that it will remain actively engaged with the matter. It is important to maintain focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women in broader rule of law activities.

I hope that the high-level meeting on the rule of law to be held in September 2012 during the 67th session of the UN General Assembly will provide a new impetus to these discussions.

Estonia is firmly committed to the international order based on international law, including human rights law and the rule of law. Since initiating our first development cooperation project in 1998, Estonia has become an international donor and the rule of law enjoys a prominent place in our development cooperation strategy. Estonia has created a stable and fruitful basis for cooperation with many of our partner countries by sharing our recent experience of social, political and economical reforms. That is why we support and highly value the EU cooperation in the field of rule of law with its eastern neighbours in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. We are also actively involved in several EU civilian crisis management operations with the focus on the rule of law. 

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