Summary: 16 July 2008, Brussels – Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the EU to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
1. On 17 July 2008 we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the adoption in Rome of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Nowadays the obligation to put an end to impunity for the most serious crimes, which shock the conscience of humanity, is ever more widely accepted within the international community. Over a hundred States have specifically committed themselves to helping, within the framework of the Rome Statute, to prevent and crack down on such crimes. Accountability to victims and to the international community as a whole is now a rule of law.
2. The European Union (EU) recalls that the Rome Statute plays a vital part in maintaining peace and strengthening international security, in accordance with the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter.
3. The ICC is a key tool both in combating impunity when the most serious crimes, striking at the very essence of humanity, are committed and in preventing and deterring the use of violence.
4. The ICC is now able to perform the task for which it was set up: 107 States party to the Rome Statute, four situations referred to the Court, and some of them already having given rise to judicial proceedings, are significant achievements for a young court. The Court has made substantial progress in conducting its investigations since the Rome Statute came into force in 2002 and is currently dealing with procedural issues of the utmost importance for its future operation.
5. The EU and its Member States remain committed to promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and protecting its integrity. We call on all non party States to join in the celebration of the ICC's tenth anniversary by ratifying the Rome Statute as soon as possible.
6. Effective cooperation with the ICC is crucial if the Court is to fulfil its role. The ICC's efforts must be underpinned by strong political and diplomatic support from all States so that it can obtain all the cooperation it needs to function efficiently, and so that those wanted on arrest warrants will be handed over and justice will be done. The EU undertakes to do everything in its power to support the Court and to help ensure that all arrest warrants are swiftly enforced.
7. Cooperation with the ICC also requires States to have judicial systems such that in the first place they can prosecute and try those who have committed the most serious crimes within their territories. The ICC is one component of an international criminal justice system. The EU firmly believes that putting the principle of complementarity into practice is a necessary condition for achievement of the ICC's aims.
8. The EU and its Member States are particularly concerned about the victims of the most serious crimes and welcome the work carried out by the ICC and its affiliated Trust Fund for Victims, and by all of the NGOs involved in providing aid and assistance for victims.
9. The EU remains convinced that peace and justice are not contradictory aims. On the contrary, in our view, lasting peace cannot be achieved without a suitable response to calls for individuals to be held accountable for the most serious international crimes. Peace and justice are both necessary components of one single solution. In accordance with the guiding principles on impunity, as within the framework of the United Nations, there can be no amnesty for the most serious crimes.
10. The EU will continue to use all means available to it to promote the ICC in its policies and the principles of international criminal justice. It will accordingly bring the ICC into its policies, particularly in development, conflict prevention, justice, freedom and security.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein , members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process