It is my honour to speak today on behalf of the CANZ group – Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) remains a concrete expression of our collective desire to ensure justice for victims of atrocity and to end impunity for perpetrators of the most serious crimes through a law-based system. Ultimately, and ideally, it is States themselves who have primary responsibility to prosecute serious crimes committed in their territory or by their nationals. Where this does not happen, the Court acts as a complementary and necessary safety net of accountability.
Over the last year we have witnessed the growth of political and diplomatic support for the ICC. There are now 119 States Parties to the Rome Statute. We warmly welcome the membership this year of Moldova, Grenada, Tunisia, the Philippines, the Maldives and Cape Verde. We are particularly pleased at the increase in representation in the Rome Statute system from States in the Asian region which, have been for some time under-represented.
The workload of the Court continues to grow. A landmark development this year was the Security Council’s unanimous referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC in the early stages of the conflict. This second Security Council referral demonstrates both the respect held for the work of the Court by the members of the Council and the important role played by the Court in the international peace and security architecture. CANZ welcomes the statements from the National Transitional Council that it is committed to accountability and the establishment of a new system of government in Libya where individual rights are protected under the rule of law.
Of course the swift and decisive action taken by the Council with regard to Libya can be contrasted with the Council’s inaction in relation to Syria. CANZ takes this opportunity to call on the members of the Security Council to take action to ensure that the perpetrators of Rome Statute crimes that appear to have been committed in Syria are brought to justice.
CANZ welcomes President Ouattara’s confirmation of Côte d’Ivoire’s acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction as a non-State Party under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute. We welcome the opening of an investigation with respect to crimes committed since 28 November in Cote d’Ivoire. We hope that fruitful cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and the ICC on ensuring accountability will contribute to stability in the long term and encourage Côte d’Ivoire to join the Rome Statute as a permanent State Party.
Although the Court has never been busier, cooperation of States in enforcing international arrest warrants remains a challenge. CANZ recognizes the difficulties non-execution of Court requests can have on the ability of the Court to fulfill its mandate and urges all States Parties to fully comply with Court requests for cooperation.
One of the most important flow-on effects of the ICC has been to act as a catalyst for States to ensure their domestic capacity to deal with crimes under the Rome Statute. In order to link complementarity and broader efforts to fight impunity over the long term, the international community must focus on building the national capacity of States to assume their responsibilities in the justice sector. In this regard, CANZ notes 2011 World Development Report conclusions on the importance of restoring confidence in institutions capable of delivering justice, security and economic reform in order to break the cycle of violence in fragile States.
With the delivery of the closing statements in the trial of Thomas Lubanga and the imminent delivery of a judgment in that case, the Court is entering a new phase in its development. Six new judges will be elected at the December meeting of States Parties. The quality of judges will determine the quality of justice the Court is able to deliver. We urge States Parties to consider the important pre-trial, trial and appeal work that will be undertaken by the judges of the Court in coming years when making their decisions with regards to the election.
The next ASP will also elect the next Prosecutor for a term of nine years. We take this opportunity to thank outgoing Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo for the firm leadership he brought to this important position in the Court’s formative years. We are pleased the Search Committee process has produced four eminently qualified candidates for the position of the new Prosecutor. The candidate selected by the ASP will have the important responsibility of steering the Office of the Prosecutor through the next phase of the Court’s development.
Canada, New Zealand, and my own country of Australia - are deeply committed to working for the Court’s success as an essential safety net to preventing impunity. We call on those States not yet party to the Rome Statute to join us in the fight to end impunity and bring justice to the victims of those crimes that, by their very nature, deeply shock the conscience of all responsible members of the international community.
We thank you Mr President.