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Statement by H. E. Ms. Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and Estonia’s Ambassador-at-large for the ICC: Agenda Item 74: Report of the International Criminal Court

06.11.2012

Mr President,

I am speaking in my capacity as President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and as Estonia’s Ambassador-at-large for the International Criminal Court. In making this statement, Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.

 

I would like to thank the President of the International Criminal Court for his report on the Court’s activities. On 1 July of this year, the Court and its States Parties commemorated the tenth anniversary of the coming into force of the Rome Statute. This report reflects just how far the level of the Court’s activities has risen in this time, and what an indispensable tool it has become in the fight against the worst crimes under international law: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

This has been an important year from a substantive point of view as well. On 14 Mach 2012, Trial Chamber I rendered the first verdict in the history of the Court in the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Diylo, finding Mr Lubanga guilty of recruiting and using child soldiers, subsequently sentencing him to 14 years of imprisonment. Already, the case has had an impact in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict has stated that parties to conflicts as far away from the DRC as Nepal have taken note of the case and have adjusted their behaviour for the better.  Although I should note that a number of final appeals are still pending, the Court and States Parties are already working together to engage in a lessons-learnt exercise to ensure that all measures are taken to make future trials as efficient as possible. I should also like to note that on 10 July 2012, Trial Chamber I made the first-ever decision on reparations by an international criminal tribunal, establishing the principles to apply to the reparations procedure that will now be used to shape the process of granting reparations to Mr Lubanga’s victims. The International Criminal Court was the first to incorporate an element of reparative justice into its proceedings – it is a key part of what makes the Rome Statute unique. Even in cases such as the present, in which the convicted person has no assets to be used, the Trust Fund for Victims, utilising States Parties’ voluntary contribution can make an impact in the reparations process. The effective implementation of these reparations, through the Trust Fund for Victims will be a key step in showing victims that they were right to place their trust in the Court.

 

 

Mr President,

As we speak today, there are 121 States Parties to the Rome Statute. Since our last meeting on this subject, Vanuatu and Guatemala have joined the family of States Parties. Throughout this tenth anniversary year, I have had the pleasure of meeting officials, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society from a number of non-State Parties, particularly from the Pacific Region and from Africa, including North Africa, in order to encourage them to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute. My message in these meetings has always been the same: the Court’s record speaks for itself. It has proven itself to be the most effective international judicial institution in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes under international law, acting as a court of last resort in numerous situations where national judicial systems have been unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute. In 2002, the International Criminal Court was a good idea; now, in 2012, we see a Court that has been able to execute this good idea in a professional and independent manner. Few if any of the fears that States had before the entry into force of the Rome Statute have proven themselves true. Instead, joining the Rome Statute has become part of the acquis of international law: a key way for any State to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against impunity in a meaningful way. I call on those States that have not yet done so, to ratify or accede to the Rome Statue.

 

Mr President,

The Rome Statute is a system built on State cooperation. As the Report before us notes, cooperation by States Parties is generally very good.[1] Nevertheless, cooperation in perhaps its most crucial form – the arrest and surrender of persons against whom warrants of arrest have been issued by the Court, leaves room for improvement. More than ten such individuals are currently at large. As was noted by several speakers at the Security Council open debate on the ICC held under the Guatemalan Presidency last month, cooperation is especially difficult in situations that have been referred to the Court by the Security Council. Voluntary commitment to the Rome Statute is the driving force behind cooperation: those States compelled to cooperate with the Court by the Security Council have made no such commitment. In those cases especially, an effective follow-up by the Security Council is necessary to ensure that its own resolutions are enforced, and that the Court receives the cooperation it requires. I should like to point out, in this regard, that the Assembly of States Parties has adopted procedures to be followed in cases of non-cooperation, which were put in action for the first time this year. The Assembly is also working to assist and advise States in all aspects of cooperation with the Court

 

It is crucial for international organisations, including the United Nations to avoid non-essential contacts with persons against whom warrants of arrest have been issued by the ICC.

 

 

Mr President,

The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort: States have the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting those who have committed the worst crimes under international law. Indeed, States Parties are discussing, within the framework of “positive complementarity”, what steps they can take to assist one another in fulfilling this primary responsibility. In this matter, interaction with UN development actors and civil society is important. The experience of the last ten years has proven, however, that it does occasionally become necessary for the ICC to step in. Instances of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity should not remain unpunished. Neither should the Crime of Aggression, and I am pleased that this year, the first two States Parties have ratified the amendments to the Rome Statute on this crime. My own country has pledged to pursue ratification of the amendments on the crime of aggression and on article 8 by the end of 2013. I call on other States Parties to do the same; States newly joining the Rome Statute should consider joining the Statute including both Kampala amendments.

 

My country remains a steadfast supporter of the International Criminal Court that fulfils its legal obligations to the Court and supports it politically. We are proud of the Court’s achievements over the past ten years but it is clear that the success of the Court depends on the political support from States Parties. States that have not yet joined the Statute also have many opportunities to support the fight against impunity.

 

I thank you.

 



[1] A/67/308, paragraph 99.

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