I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country, Finland.
We thank the President of the International Criminal Court Mr. Piotr Hofmański for being with us today and presenting the annual report of the ICC to the General Assembly.
This year in July, we gathered here in New York to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute is a central instrument in fighting impunity for the most serious international crimes. Since its establishment, the ICC has made an invaluable contribution to the evolution of international criminal justice through its jurisprudence.
The ICC has jurisdiction over the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. These crimes represent grave violations of international law, notably the UN Charter, universal human rights and the laws of war. They threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world. The ICC continues to make a vital contribution to the rule of law at the international level by holding those responsible for the most atrocious crimes accountable for their actions.
The ICC is the only permanent international criminal court with a global mandate. There are now over 120 States Parties to the Rome Statute, representing almost two thirds of the UN membership. More States Parties would further strengthen the universality of the ICC’s mandate. The Nordic countries warmly welcome the recent decision of Armenia to ratify the Rome Statute. We encourage all States to consider doing the same as a matter of urgency.
The United Nations and the ICC are both integral parts of the rules based international order. The ICC has a special relationship with the UN, in particular given the power of the Security Council to refer situations to the Court. We encourage the Security Council to use this power more often, and its members to refrain from using the veto in situations where there are clear and credible indications of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or aggression.
Furthermore, we would like to reiterate our call to the General Assembly to enable the UN to share the financial burden with respect to the situations the Security Council has referred to the ICC.
The ICC is an independent and impartial judicial institution. It is to act without fear or favor. The Nordic countries condemn in the strongest terms the criminal proceedings initiated by the authorities of the Russian Federation against the Prosecutor, the President and other judges of the Court. The Nordic States also strongly condemn the recent unprecedented cyber-attack on the Court. Any threats or attacks against the Court, its personnel or those cooperating with it are unacceptable.
The independence of judicial institutions is a fundamental component to the rule of law, and must be safeguarded at all times.
The protection of those cooperating with the ICC extends to civil society representatives who furnish the Court with evidence and information. Human rights defenders around the world are often the first to alarm us of atrocities unfolding in their regions.
The ICC is a Court of last resort. It does not replace national judicial systems, but strengthens and complements them. The ICC only steps in when necessary – when the national judicial systems do not take legal action or are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute.
The Nordic countries would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of cooperation of all States with the ICC. Cooperation has many forms, from information sharing and execution of arrest warrants to the relocation of witnesses and enforcement of sentences. All States, whether parties to the Rome Statute or not, can cooperate with the ICC, and we encourage all to do so.
25 years ago in Rome the drafters of the ICC’s Statute decided to create a Court that would not only prevent atrocities and punish the perpetrators, but also give a central role to the victims. Victims have a right to participate in the proceedings at the ICC beyond giving testimony, and receive assistance and reparation for the harm they have suffered. The Nordic countries are long-standing supporters of the Trust Fund for Victims and its efforts to provide redress to victims of atrocities.
In conclusion, the Nordic countries reiterate our unwavering commitment to the ICC, and its important role in the global fight against impunity.
I thank you.