— CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY —
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We would like to thank President Eboe-Osuji for his comprehensive presentation. We also thank the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its annual report to the United Nations, covering the period from 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018, detailing what is described as a time marked by significant developments for the ICC.
International criminal justice is not only a powerful deterrent against future violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, but it is, most of all, instrumental in achieving accountability and sustainable peace. Injustice and impunity have proven in the past to be the main obstacles to healing the deep wounds in societies caused by the most serious crimes and to create fertile ground for the recurrence of conflict. The European Union sees the International Criminal Court as an essential institution for the promotion of a rules-based global order to fight against impunity and to achieve justice for the victims of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole where that is not possible at the national level.
The European Union expresses its unwavering support to the International Criminal Court, as was recently reconfirmed in the Council Conclusions of 16 July 2018 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute.
The European Union has repeatedly re-affirmed its strong belief in the legitimacy of the Court and its full confidence in the impartiality and independence of the Judges and the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC in the performance of their functions, as stipulated in Articles 40 and 42 of the Rome Statute.
The EU will continue to re-affirm its support for the ICC in multilateral fora and in bilateral dialogues. The EU will also continue its consistent assistance – political, financial and technical – to the Court. Effective functioning of the ICC and the promotion of its independence are the best ways to strengthen the ICC’s credibility and legitimacy and to protect it from any outside interference.
The workload of the Court remains heavy: eleven situations under investigations by the Prosecutor, nine ongoing preliminary examinations and three ongoing trials. During the reporting period the Court also carried out a significant number of missions to several countries worldwide in the framework of their investigations or preliminary examinations.
We note the important judicial developments in fulfilling the Court's mandate during this reporting period, in particular the opening of two new preliminary examinations of the situations in the Philippines and in Venezuela, the issuing of two new arrest warrants, as well as several important decisions on reparations to victims.
The geographical scope of the Court's activity and the increasing number of situations submitted to the ICC demonstrate that many States have faith in the ICC and entrust their hopes for justice and accountability to the Court.
Faced with this increasing workload, it is imperative for the ICC to work in an efficient and effective way. We therefore welcome the Court's efforts to implement reforms to streamline its administrative and judicial processes, make an efficient use of its resources and enhance the efficiency of its activities at all stages of the judicial process, as well as to strive to improve the impact of its action.
Complementarity is one of the core principles of the Rome Statute set out in Article 1. Primary responsibility for bringing offenders to justice lies with States themselves: in order to make this system operational all States Parties need to adopt effective national legislation to implement the Rome Statute. The European Union remains committed to support initiatives aimed at encouraging States to cooperate in the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes. For this the EU has various assistance instruments and projects at its disposal, including programmes aimed at improving the legal and judicial capacities of countries, in the context of the EU's assistance to the development of the rule of law.
Challenges remain to the effective operation of the Court. One is the need to ensure cooperation with the ICC, both by the United Nations and by States Parties to the Rome Statute, in accordance with Security Council resolutions referring situations to the Court.
The EU and its Member States fully agree with the Court that the prerogative of the Security Council to refer a situation to the Court can help to promote accountability in countries where grave crimes may have been committed but where the Court would otherwise have no jurisdiction. We also agree that, once a referral is made, active follow-up is necessary to ensure cooperation with the Court, in particular regarding the arrest and surrender of individuals subject to arrest warrants.
We note with concern the number of instances of non-cooperation, including those referred to the UN Security Council for follow-up, for which no substantive response has been given. We encourage the Council and the Court to find ways to strengthen their cooperation and coordination.
Non-cooperation with the Court hampers the ICC’s capacity to deliver on its mandate. We urge all States to take actions to encourage appropriate and full cooperation with the Court, including the prompt execution of arrest warrants, and explore further ways to assist the Court, also by considering the conclusion of voluntary cooperation agreements, for example on witness relocation or enforcement of sentences.
We also welcome the projects implemented by the Trust Fund for Victims to provide
support reparation to victims of heinous crimes in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Mali, as well as the launch of an assistance programme in Côte d'Ivoire, Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The universality of the Rome Statute is essential for ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the International Community. Universality remains one of the main objectives of the ICC and the EU. The EU regrets the withdrawal of Burundi from the Rome Statute, which took effect on 27 October 2017, and the decision of the Philippines to submit a notification of withdrawal from the Rome Statute on 17 March 2018.
During the reporting period, the EU continued its efforts to promote the universality of the Rome Statute and the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC, as well as to promote a better understanding of the Court's mandate. And we will continue to work tirelessly to make the Rome Statute truly universal.
We call on all States that have not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute and to State parties to fully implement the Rome Statute.
2018 is an important year for the ICC, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute and as it saw the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression on 17 July 2018, thereby completing the thereby completing the legacy of the Nuremberg Trials and of the Rome and Kampala conferences of 1998 and 2010. We also welcome the adoption of three amendments to article 8 of the Rome Statute last year. The Rome Statute's preamble states that "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished". This is a core principle for the EU. Perpetrators of atrocities need to be brought to justice and held to account. The EU reconfirms its commitment to renew its efforts to promote the universality and preserve the integrity of the Rome Statute this year and beyond.
We welcome actions by States, international organisations and civil society to voice their support for the Court and to promote universality. We will encourage the widest possible participation in the Rome Statute, support the independence of the Court and promote cooperation with the ICC. The EU and its Member States are committed to working together with the global community to pursue our common goal beyond 2018: to further strengthen the Court so that it can fulfil its mandate effectively.
I thank you
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.