EU efforts to combat impunity

Committed to preventing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, as well as impunity for the perpetrators of such crimes, the EU provides unwavering support to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international criminal tribunals.

The European Union is a staunch supporter of the ICC. The serious crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC are of great concern for the European Union, which is committed to co-operation to prevent such crimes and to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators.

The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 and the Court has been operating since that time. The principles of the Rome Statute of the ICC, as well as those governing its functioning, are fully in line with the principles and objectives of the Union. The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights; it is deemed to contribute to peace, security, mutual respect among peoples and the protection of human rights, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law (Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union).

The European Union and the ICC

 The serious crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC are of concern for the European Union, which is determined to co-operate for the prevention of those crimes and for putting an end to the impunity of the perpetrators thereof.

As pledged at the Kampala Review Conference (31 May – 11 June 2010), the EU updated its Common Position 2003/444/CFSP by Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP , adopted on 21 March 2011. This Decision repealed and replaced Common Position 2003/444/CFSP.

The objective of Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP is to advance universal support for the Rome Statute by promoting the widest possible participation in it, to preserve the integrity of the Statute, to support the independence of the Court and its effective and efficient functioning, to support cooperation with the Court and support the implementation of the principle of complementarity.

In accordance with the Council Decision, a revised Action Plan was adopted on 12 July 2011.

States of affairs

 On this basis of Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP, the EU continues aiming at further strengthening the Court to fulfill its mandate. The European Union and its Member States will continue to encourage the widest possible participation in the Rome Statute, as universal accession is essential to ensure the full effectiveness of the Court. Determined to put an end to impunity for perpetrators of the worst crimes, the EU and its Member States are dedicated to preserving the integrity of the Rome Statute, to supporting the independence of the Court, and championing cooperation with the Court. The European Union and its Member States are also committed to fully implementing the principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute by facilitating the effective and efficient interplay between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity.

One important concrete example of this political support is the EU’s ongoing engagement towards the universality of the Rome Statute and promoting a better understanding of the ICC’s mandate. The EU continues to make every effort to further this process with third States, in particular during its regular human rights dialogues with some 40 countries, through systematic demarche campaigns worldwide, through the organization of dedicated local or regional seminars, through the systematic inclusion of an ICC clause into agreements with third countries, or through financial support to civil society organizations lobbying for the universality of the Rome Statute.

Full cooperation with the ICC is a prerequisite for the Court’s effective functioning.  EU and its Member States undertake consistent action to encourage full co-operation of States with the ICC, including the prompt execution of arrest warrants.  The EU’s response to non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court by third states pdf - 139 KB [139 KB] focuses particularly on how the EU and its Member States can respond to impending instances of non-cooperation, to persisting or repeated cases of non-cooperation, and when to avoid non-essential contacts with individuals subject to arrest warrants issued by the ICC.

Given states’ primary duty to investigate grave international crimes, the EU is particularly engaged in promoting and contribuing to strengthening the capacity of national judicial systems to investigate and prosecute these crimes. The successful implementation of the complementarity principle requires both political will and capacity, while in turn effective and sustainable capacity building necessitates ownership by the development partner. States need to be willing and able, but also willing to be able to fight impunity of most serious crimes. The European Commission and the European External Action Service have developed a Joint Working Document on Advancing the Principle of Complementarity pdf - 3 MB [3 MB] This “Complementarity Toolkit” aims at providing operational guidance to bridging the gap between international justice and national justice systems, as an effective and efficient interplay between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court is pivotal to giving full effect to the Rome Statute.

EU member countries are the biggest financial contributors to the ICC budget, and the EU itself funds projects supporting the ICC and international criminal justice through its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

International Criminal Court

Council of the European Union