European Union External Action

Day of International Criminal Justice 2020: the fight against impunity continues

16/07/2020 - 22:15
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Even at this time of global pandemic, crimes against humanity and war crimes continue to be perpetrated. The EU reiterates its commitment to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute and to support the ICC


Since 17 July 1998, those who commit gross violations of human rights around the globe have no safe haven: they can run, but cannot hide from international justice. That day, 22 years ago, 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which seeks to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. On Day of International Criminal Justice, we mark the anniversary of a milestone for humankind that has made our planet a more just place where impunity is no longer tolerated. The European Union reaffirms its longstanding support towards the international criminal justice system and in particular its unwavering commitment to the ICC, as part of the EU's wider commitment to a rules-based international order.

“At a time when the world is fighting the coronavirus pandemic and our collective focus should be on supporting and protecting the most vulnerable parts of society, crimes against humanity and war crimes continue to be perpetrated”, reads the Declaration issued by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union to mark this date. “The ICC is facing persistent external challenges. We stand firm against all attempts to undermine the international system of criminal justice by hindering the work of its core institutions”.

International criminal justice is a key tool to build a future free of violence, as it contributes to long‐term peace, stability and equitable development in post‐conflict societies. Since the entry into force of the Rome Statute in 2002, there have thus far been 28 cases before the International Criminal Court, with some cases having more than one suspect. So far, 45 individuals have been indicted in the ICC, and the judges have issued 8 convictions and 4 acquittals. 

Currently, the ICC holds 13 situations under investigation in the following countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Darfur (Sudan), Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Georgia, Burundi, Bangladesh/Myanmar, Afghanistan. In addition to that, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC is conducting ongoing preliminary examinations on different situations in Colombia, Guinea, Irak, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Despite its important work, the ICC needs the collaboration of national governments in this global fight to end impunity, to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again. As of 2020, there are 123 ICC Member States, but 42 States remain as “non-party, non-signatory states”. 

Each year the EU contributes to the promotion of international criminal justice with over €38 million since 2014, by supporting the ICC and transitional justice initiatives and mechanisms for numerous countries, such as the international mechanisms in Syria and Myanmar.

Worldwide, the EU contributes to wider justice sector reforms through programmes aimed at complementing and reinforcing national justice systems, and will continue engaging in efforts to support human rights workers, lawyers, prosecutors and all contributors to the international justice system who relentlessly work to bring justice and protect fundamental human rights.

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