63th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sixth Committee
Speech delivered by Mr. Hubert Renié, First Counsellor, Legal Advisor
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union
The Candidate Countries Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia, align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union wishes to express its appreciation to the Court for submitting its 4th comprehensive report, which demonstrated that it is an active institution that is now able to accomplish the mission for which it was established.
Over 2007 and 2008, the Court has indeed made substantial progress in conducting investigations and prosecutions in the four ongoing proceedings, especially regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan.
Significant developments have also been made in court proceedings. The Court has been asked to rule on procedural issues which are critical to the trials ahead. This is especially the case as regards the participation of victims or rights of defence, two fundamental aspects on which the judges had to rule as part of the case The Prosecutor against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo.
During this same period, the Court continued to enjoy the active and necessary support from States, primarily the Member States of the European Union, in order to promote the goal of universality that underpins a full achievement of the Rome Statute.
The latest ratifications from Suriname and the Cook Islands, which were very symbolic in that they were made during the 10th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Rome Statute, have helped bring the number of States Parties to 108.
Progress made also shows that efforts to promote the universality of the Rome Statute have been successful. In this context, the European Union and its Member States are more willing than ever to maintain their support to ensure the membership of as many States as possible and ensure the integrity of the Rome Statute.
Effective cooperation with the ICC is essential to enable the Court to accomplish its mission, as evidenced by the arrests of Germain Katanga, Mathieu Ngudjolo and Jean-Pierre Bemba, which would not have been possible without the support of the States Parties.
The action of the Court must continue to be matched by all States to ensure that persons subject to an arrest warrant are handed over and that justice is served.
In this regard, the European Union is firmly committed to supporting the Court so that all arrest warrants are executed quickly, especially in Darfur and Uganda. It recalls the Governement of Sudan’s bligation to cooperate with the Court under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593. The obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court is non-negotiable. Once again, the European Union urges the Government of Sudan to fully cooperate with the ICC in order to implement the decisions of the Court.
Furthermore, the European Union is convinced that the fight against impunity and achieving the Court’s objectives is also attained by implementing the principle of complementarity established by the Rome Statute. This principle requires, however, that states have implemented the provisions of the statute at the national level, and have a judicial system allowing them first to prosecute and try those who have committed serious crimes on their territory.
On this point, in a context where the use of "universal jurisdiction" is currently under debate, and not without some confusion, it is worth recalling that the Court is an international court, drawing its legitimacy and prerogatives from the terms of an international treaty.
Finally, we should note that there has been significant progress in relations between the European Union and the Court: first, with the signing of a cooperation agreement in 2006, and then, last April, with the formalization of arrangements for the exchange and protection of classified information, which paved the way for further operational cooperation.
As the report mentions, for the first time, one of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) operations, European Union Force Chad/CAR, will support the Court in Chad, mainly in terms of security and logistics.
A word regarding the functioning of the Court to welcome the election of new judges and clerks and to emphasize that, in our view, the recent appointment of former ICC judge, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights can only strengthen the natural link between the protection of human rights and international criminal justice.
Finally, with regard to the victims, the European Union welcomes the Court’s advocacy and communication efforts, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, and can only invite it to be present in all situations.
It also notes with satisfaction the participation of the victims at trial. Being able to involve civil society and reach the people affected is indeed essential.
We also hope that the action of the Victims Fund will soon be fully visible to all, and will remind the victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that the Statute was also established for them.
The Court is a fundamental tool, both to combat impunity when the most serious crimes, which undermine the very essence of humanity, are committed, and to prevent and deter the use of violence. The European Union is and will remain firmly committed to the Court in achieving these goals.