I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden – and my own country, Norway.
Let me start by thanking the International Criminal Court for its annual report to the United Nations, and the ICC President for presenting the main issues in the report. We note with appreciation the high level of activity during the reporting period, despite very challenging circumstances.
Heinous crimes are being committed with impunity in many conflicts and situations worldwide. As a permanent Court of last resort, the ICC is a central institution for international accountability and the pursuit of justice, which are essential components of sustainable peace, security and reconciliation.
Yet, the ICC is facing continual political opposition and attempts at preventing it from delivering on its crucial mandate. The Nordic countries are deeply concerned by measures taken against the Court, and against its officials and staff. Such measures undermine our common endeavour to fight impunity and to ensure accountability for mass atrocities. The Nordic countries reconfirm our unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution. We will continue to defend the Court and its officials from any attempts to interfere with its work.
States Parties and the Court have together embarked on a wide-ranging review process to strengthen the Rome Statute system and improve the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of the Court. The Nordic countries welcome the report of the independent expert review commissioned by the Assembly of States Parties. We look forward to engaging further in the important review process and in the implementation of the recommendations made by the independent experts with a view to ensuring a strong, effective and independent Court, which the review process aims to achieve.
Holding to account perpetrators of the most serious crimes is an aspiration shared by states of all parts of the world. By increasing the number of States Parties, the Court will be better able to address the most serious international crimes with greater consistency and impact. The Nordic countries continue to support and work for universal membership. The ICC needs more States Parties, not fewer. We stand ready for constructive dialogue with States Parties and non-States Parties alike on their relations with the ICC.
Bringing impunity to an end requires cooperation between actors who have international peace, justice and security and an international rules-based order as their common goal. The Court’s effectiveness in carrying out its mandate depends heavily on cooperation with states, other stakeholders and international organisations. Let me in this forum make particular note of the ongoing cooperation between the United Nations and the ICC as described in the report.
The Nordic countries share the Court’s strong appreciation of the crucial support and cooperation from senior leadership of the UN. We also welcome the operational support the Court receives from other UN entities, departments, offices, and special advisers and representatives of the Secretary-General.
Enhanced cooperation between the Court and the Security Council is still called for. This is particularly true in cases of non-cooperation with the ICC as well as for strengthened follow-up of situations referred to it by the Security Council. We note with concern that the Security Council, in the two situations it has referred to the ICC, has not acted on the 16 findings of non-cooperation communicated to it by the ICC. We strongly urge all states to cooperate fully and effectively with the Court, in line with the Rome Statute and all applicable Security Council resolutions.
The Nordic countries would also like to see the Security Council develop a more coherent approach to the referral of situations to the ICC. Failing to make appropriate referrals contributes to impunity which makes conflicts thrive. We note with great concern that the Security Council has been unable to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC, and strongly urge Council Members to continue efforts in this regard. The situation in Myanmar, and in particular the reported gross violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that have taken place in Rakhine, remains a serious concern. We urge Myanmar authorities to conduct credible investigations in line with international standards. A referral by the Security Council to the ICC remains, however, the most robust means for achieving accountability in Myanmar. In the meantime, the Nordic countries continue to support the work of investigative mechanisms for Syria and Myanmar established by other UN organs, and encourage other states to do the same.
The full realization of justice for victims is an important aspect of the continuing success and relevance of the Court. We commend the important work of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. We note with appreciation its work in providing support and rehabilitation to victims of sexual and gender-based crimes. The Nordic countries have consistently supported the Trust Fund and we encourage states and other entities to contribute.
Let me also take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the Prosecutor and her tireless work to seek justice for atrocity crimes. We commend her work in combating sexual and gender-based crimes and atrocity crimes against or otherwise affecting children.
Let me conclude by renewing our pledge that the Nordic countries will remain staunch supporters of the ICC. We are committed to continue working for the Court’s effectiveness, independence and integrity.