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 President of the ICC for his presentation. We note with appreciation the significant progress made by the ICC during the reporting period, despite challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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 key components of sustainable peace, security and reconciliation.
The mission of the ICC is as crucial as ever. Yet, the ICC continues to face political opposition and attempts at preventing it from delivering on its mandate. This undermines our common endeavour to fight impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The Nordic countries reconfirm our unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution. We will continue to defend the Court 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. A major step in this regard was the issuance, in September last year, of the final report of the independent expert review commissioned by the Assembly of States Parties. We welcome the thorough assessment currently being undertaken by the Court and States Parties of the comprehensive set of recommendations in the report. It is now crucial that the Court and States Parties move towards implementation of the recommendations in an efficient and results oriented manner. The Nordic countries are actively engaging in this important process, 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 to the Rome Statute. 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 UN 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 valuable 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 States’ non-cooperation with the ICC as well as for strengthened follow-up of situations referred to the ICC 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 a number of 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. In particular, we call on all States Parties and others to provide the assistance necessary for the arrest and surrender of individuals sought by the Court.
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. In the meantime, the Nordic countries continue to support the work of investigative mechanisms established by other UN organs, and encourage other states to do the same.
The full realization of justice for victims is a central aspect of the continuing success and relevance of the Court. The ICC Trust Fund for Victims has an important mandate in this regard. The Nordic countries have consistently supported the Trust Fund and we encourage states and other entities to contribute.
In order for the Court to be able to carry out its mission in the most efficient way, it also needs to be properly funded. It is our common responsibility to ensure that the Court has sufficient resources to carry out its important mandate in a time of increasing demand. We encourage States Parties to ensure timely and in-full payment of contributions. Likewise, it is the obligation of the Court to ensure its effective and efficient functioning.
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.