United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security, Statement on behalf of the Nordic countries by H.E. Dr. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, New York, 17 October 2012
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I have the honor to address the Council on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Finland.
As staunch supporters of the International Criminal Court, we wish to congratulate Guatemala for its recent ratification of the Rome Statute and to express our thanks for the convening of this open debate on “Peace and Justice, with a Special Focus on the Role of the International Criminal Court”. We also wish to thank the Secretary-General, President Song and Mr. Mochochoko from the Office of the Prosecutor for their thoughts on today’s theme.
The ten-year existence of the ICC is a fitting moment to take stock of the relationship between the ICC and the Security Council. We welcome this opportunity to discuss important issues in this regard. We also wish to recognize the increasing number of ICC related decisions and actions by the Security Council and encourage further interplay between the two institutions.
The ICC has come a long way since its establishment in 2002. The number of States Parties to the Statute is currently 121 and the number of country situations has grown to seven. The number of judicial proceedings is also rapidly increasing. The UN Security Council has twice referred a situation to the Court. This confirms that the ICC has become the centerpiece of our international criminal justice efforts and a key actor in fighting impunity for the most serious international crimes.
The resoluteness of the negotiators of the Rome Statute stemmed from the grim reality of the 20th century during which millions of children, women and men had been victims of unimaginable atrocities. In this century, too, we continue to face such crimes that, in the words of the Statute’s preamble, deeply shock the conscience of humanity.
These victims are entitled to justice. In situations where effective and genuine national trials are not possible for various reasons, the International Criminal Court plays a central role in ensuring accountability. The Rome Statute system, which includes the Trust Fund for Victims, also provides for an important restorative function. Fair administration of justice complemented by a comprehensive transitional justice strategy is an essential element in peace efforts. There will be no lasting peace without justice and due attention to victims.
The goals to prevent conflict, and to protect populations who are at risk of mass atrocities unite the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court. As States Parties to the Rome Statute, we signed on to the ICC Statute - and I quote from the preamble:
“determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes, and recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world”.
The Security Council can through a referral to the ICC send a strong message that crime does not pay. Justice will be done.
Security Council referrals show that while the ICC is an independent, judicial institution, it is not alone on the international scene. It needs to interact with other actors and it needs support from other actors. The Statute contains important provisions on the relationship between the Court and the Security Council, ranging from the power of referring situations to the Court to that of temporarily deferring investigation or prosecution by the ICC and addressing instances of non-cooperation. In due course the provisions on the crime of aggression will also become operational. We urge the Council to approach all these provisions in a consistent manner and with due regard to their purpose and intent.
We also urge the Council to assist the Court in fulfilling its tasks in situations referred to it by the Council. The mandate of the Court is limited and does not extend to issues such as execution of arrest warrants or taking action in cases of non-cooperation. Several arrest warrants have been outstanding for a number of years. Non-essential contacts with individuals subject to an arrest warrant issued by the Court should be avoided. Arrest warrants have to be executed. In this context, we welcome the Council’s action earlier this year, reminding the international community of the obligations stemming from relevant Council resolutions.
In these times of austerity, meeting the budget demands of the Court, including for referred situations, is a real concern. We wish to underline that necessary resources need to be ensured for the Court to be able to investigate and try cases in referred situations. This should be a shared responsibility by all UN member states.
The Nordic countries have time and again repeated that impunity for the most serious international crimes must not be tolerated. We welcome that the world leaders recently came together to affirm this in the Declaration adopted at the General Assembly High Level Meeting on the rule of law at the national and international levels. This is clear proof of our common will to live in age of accountability.
We are horrified by the continuous atrocities in Syria and urge the Council to take decisive steps to secure accountability for those most responsible in this serious situation.
The High Level Meeting in the General Assembly also recognized the role of the International Criminal Court in a multilateral system that aims to establish the rule of law. The ICC does not only play an important role in ensuring that those who have committed the gravest crimes cannot escape justice. The ICC and the Rome Statute system have a role also in the broader framework of fostering the rule of law – and thus in building sustainable peace.
This is so because the Rome Statute recognizes that States bear the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute even the most serious international crimes. This is the essence of the principle of complementarity which governs the Court’s jurisdiction. The ICC only steps in when and if a state is unable or unwilling to exercise this responsibility. In order to assist States with their responsibility, other actors – including the Court, the United Nations and regional organisations – can play an important role. Progress in this area of positive complementarity means to strengthen the rule of law and in turn to prevent new conflicts.
Let me conclude by reiterating our firm conviction that only a just peace is a lasting peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.