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Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Countries on Agenda Item 77: Report of the International Criminal Court, 30 October 2017 in New York

30.10.2017  21:51

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Mr President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic Countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Denmark.

Let me start by thanking the International Criminal Court for its annual report to the United Nations. I would also like to thank Judge Férnandez de Gurmendi, President of the ICC, for a thorough presentation of the main issues of the report. Again, the yearly report bears evidence to the Court’s increasing activity across a broad range of situations and cases. It shows that the ICC is truly a global criminal court and the Nordic countries would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Court for its significant contribution to the fight against impunity worldwide.

Holding to account perpetrators and ensuring justice for victims of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole are principles shared by States of all parts of the world. The International Criminal Court is an essential institution – not only for promoting respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law – but also for the advancement of post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation with a view to achieving sustainable development and peace as also envisioned in Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda.

The success of the Court depends on cooperation with other stakeholders and many States and international organizations provide important contributions to the Court. It is, however, a continued cause for concern that the number of outstanding arrest warrants remains high.

We strongly urge all States to cooperate fully and effectively with the Court, in line with all applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions. Further, States Parties to the Rome Statute have undertaken a legal obligation to this end.

Mr. President,

The Court's promise of justice for victims corresponds with the reach of its jurisdiction, first and foremost with how universally the Rome Statute has been ratified. The ICC needs more State Parties, not fewer. We would therefore like to welcome El Salvador as the latest State Party to the Rome Statute. Furthermore, the Nordic countries are pleased to note that Gambia and South Africa reversed their previous decisions, withdrawing their notifications of withdrawal before they took effect. 

However, we also wish to reiterate our deep disappointment and concern with the decision of the Government of Burundi to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which took effect only a few days ago. We stand ready for a constructive discussion about concerns that some States Parties may have, and encourage and invite State Parties critical of the Court to seek solutions within the framework and fundamental principles of the Rome Statute. Continued dialogue is of key importance.

Mr. President,

States have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes as the ICC is a court of last resort. However, States affected by genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes might at times need capacity support to implement relevant legislation, initiate investigations and conduct criminal proceedings.

The Nordic countries emphasize the value of States Parties assisting each other as well as states interested in ratifying the Statute in developing capacity. We are committed to strong international cooperation. Such cooperation can strengthen the political commitment of States to conduct genuine and fair proceedings in what is often challenging circumstances.

Cooperation that engages international, regional and national actors in the justice sector, as well as civil society, also furthers the principle of complementarity. We wish to highlight in this context the complementarity programme of Justice Rapid Response offering assistance and mentoring to States that are willing to investigate conflict-related international crimes.

Mr. President,

Let me in this forum make particular note of the ongoing cooperation between the United Nations and the ICC as described in the Report. We share the Court’s strong appreciation of the crucial support and cooperation from senior leadership of the UN, particularly the role played by the former and present Secretary-General, and also of the engagement of the relevant UN departments among which the Office of the Legal Counsel should be highlighted. We welcome the ongoing high-level consultations between the principals of the Court and senior United Nations officials. This dialogue also sets the course for more concrete areas of cooperation, including a stronger cooperation at field level and supportive policy statements from relevant UN bodies.

Mr. President,

Enhanced cooperation between the Court and the Security Council is still called for. This is true in particular in cases of non-cooperation with the ICC as well as for strengthened follow-up of situations referred to it from the Security Council. We also note with great concern that the Security Council has been unable to refer the Syrian situation to the ICC, and we strongly urge the Council Members to continue efforts in this regard.

The Nordic countries are appalled by the continued blatant disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria. Without stronger and more committed action by the Council and States Parties, the situation will not improve. All those responsible for war crimes and other serious international crimes must be held accountable. Impunity is not an option. In this regard, the Nordic countries are proud to support the work of the newly established International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, the IIIM, with the important mandate to collect, save and categorize evidence for future investigations and trials. We encourage others to do the same. Our strong support for the Commission of Inquiry regarding Syria remains.

Mr. President,

The full realization of the rights of victims is an important aspect of the continuing success and relevance of the Court. We commend the important work of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, which has supported more than 450,000 victims in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has recently launched an assistance programme in Cote D’Ivoire. We encourage States and other entities to contribute to the Trust Fund.

The Nordic countries also welcome the Court’s ambitions to further enhance the efficiency of its activities. We especially welcome the Prosecutor’s policies to address crimes against those most vulnerable, in important areas such as sexual and gender-based crimes and crimes against children.

Mr. President,

In order for the Court to be able to carry out its mission in the most efficient way, it needs also to be properly funded. The Court´s budget will be dealt with in the Assembly of the State Parties later this year, but we wish to underline the worldwide activities of the Court as reflected in the Court´s report. 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.

Likewise, it is the obligation of the Court to ensure its effective and efficient functioning, and we commend the steps taken in this regard, also with regard to developing performance indicators. We also stress the importance of upholding and strengthening governance standards and ensure proper investigation of alleged misconduct. In this context, we particularly note the need to address recent allegations and ensure that the impartiality and independence of the Court remains beyond doubt.

Mr. President,

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.

Thank you