I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union
The Candidate Countries Croatia*, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Turkey, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union is firmly committed to ending impunity for the most heinous crimes of concern to the international community. The International Criminal Court, created almost ten years ago, is one of the greatest achievements in the fight against impunity. The EU reiterates its strong support for the work of the Court.
The importance of the ICC is to be seen in a wider context of international order. The Court is critically placed to contribute to a more peaceful and just world, promoting respect for international humanitarian law, human rights and the rule of law. The European Union remains convinced that peace and justice are not conflicting goals. Quite on the contrary, in our view sustainable peace cannot be achieved if the demands for individual accountability for the most serious international crimes are not duly addressed.
States have the primary responsibility for bringing offenders to justice. The ICC will only step in as a last resort if States fail to implement their duty. The ICC plays a significant role in ensuring accountability where national judicial systems have failed, or are not willing or able to function. As for deterrence and prevention, the European Union views the ICC as an essential instrument for the prevention of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The European Union expresses its appreciation to the Court for its report. The report clearly demonstrates that the Court is a living institution that has achieved substantial progress in its investigations and judicial proceedings. In this respect, the EU shares the Court’s concerns in relation to the outstanding warrants of arrest arising from the ICC’s investigations in Darfur and Uganda. The EU urges all parties to work with the Court to ensure that these individuals are brought to justice as soon as possible. The EU emphasises the obligation on the Government of Sudan to co-operate with the Court under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1593.
105 State Parties to the Rome Statute and 4 situations before the Court are significant achievements for a young Court. In this context we would like to underline three key developments in the DRC situation: The fact that the trial against Mr Lubanga Dyilo is under preparation and that four victims participated in the hearing through their legal representatives. This was the first time in the history of an international criminal court that victims participated in proceedings on their own right, without being called as witnesses. In this situation, the EU also welcomes the arrest and transfer on 18 October to the ICC custody of Germain Katanga.
The European Union echoes the Secretary General statement, marking the 5th anniversary of the Court, underlining that “the ICC has already established itself as a centerpiece of a system of international criminal justice”. The EU welcomes the Court’s increased co-operation with other international and hybrid tribunals, in particular, the co-operation with the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
We all agree that the Court has taken its first well grounded steps and the report shows its achievements. The Court however relies critically on effective cooperation and assistance by States, as well as the United Nations and other international and regional organisations.
As the ICC does not have enforcement capacity, assistance is particularly needed for the arrest of suspects, the provision of evidence, the relocation of witnesses, protection of victims and the enforcement of sentences. We stress the importance of cooperation by States Parties and non-States Parties with the Court, both in general and as regards specifically the execution of arrest warrants.
Furthermore, the EU appreciates the deepened co-operation with international organisations, in particular with the United Nations. The UN is a critical partner to the ICC in the field, as it may be in a position to provide the Court with evidence or logistical support. The EU invites the Secretary General to make this support even more tangible on the ground.
The EU and the ICC concluded an agreement on cooperation and assistance in April 2006. The European Union encourages other relevant organisations, including the African Union, to formalise their co-operation with the Court.
The European Union is a strong and active advocate for the universality of the ICC, and a dedicated defender of the integrity of the Rome Statute. The EU reiterates its call for the universal ratification of the Rome Statute, as well as of the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court. The EU recalls its Common Position and Action Plan to support the Court as well as the array of instruments at its disposal to promote universality and integrity of the Rome Statute.
The EU also welcomes the ICC’s intensified efforts relating to its outreach activities in the field. Reaching out to societies and people affected by crime is paramount for the successful discharge of the wider mandate of the Court. The activities of the Court in this respect are particularly important when reaching out to victims who have a unique role under the Rome Statute.
The European Union wishes to thank Liechtenstein for organising the Intercessional Meetings of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression at Princeton. These meetings have proved to be highly conducive for the preparation of provisions relating to the crime of aggression, -the definition of which is of interest to UN members as a whole-. The EU is committed to contribute to the finalization of the work on the crime of aggression and will support solutions that are consistent with the letter and spirit of the Rome Statute and the United Nations Charter.
Finally, Mr. President,
The EU would like to underline one more time that cooperation and assistance by all of us, the UN and other international and regional organizations remains vital for the Court to successfully carry out its activities.
I thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.