MIL-OSI United Nations: General Assembly, Adopting Draft Welcoming Assistance to International Criminal Court, Calls for Cooperation in Arresting Fugitives, Enforcing Sentences

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Source: United Nations 4

The General Assembly, acting without a vote, today adopted a resolution that called upon all States not yet signed onto the Rome Statute ‑ the international treaty that created the International Criminal Court at a conference in Rome in 1998 ‑ to contemplate joining the 123 States Parties that have already ratified the accord. 

The text emphasized the importance of cooperation with these States that are not yet parties to the Statute, which entered into force nearly 10 years ago.

By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly called upon States Parties to adopt national legislation that will implement their obligations and work with The Hague-based Court to carry out its functions. 

Welcoming the assistance provided thus far to the Court, the Assembly also called upon those States under obligation to do so to cooperate in the future, particularly concerning arrest and surrender, the provision of evidence, the protection for and relocation of victims and witnesses, and the enforcement of sentences. 

Further, the resolution emphasized the importance of fully carrying out the Rome Statute’s Relationship Agreement, which lays down a framework for close cooperation between the Court and the United Nations, and it urged all States Parties to take into account the Court’s interests, needs for assistance and mandate when relevant matters are being discussed in the United Nations. 

It also looked forward to the twentieth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, scheduled for 6 to 11 December in The Hague.

In the debate on the report prior to the text’s adoption, several speakers echoed the importance of the United Nations partnership with the Court.  The representative of Cyprus, for example, said international justice is the United Nations most undervalued pillar, and cooperation between the Court and the Organization is natural and indispensable.  Member States must collectively commit to fully support the Court and protect its judicial and prosecutorial independence and integrity.

Several delegations, however, disassociated themselves from the consensus vote as they found fault with the Court’s report.  The speaker for the Russian Federation said the annual report, like all its predecessors, reflects the Court’s policy of selective administration of justice.

The Philippines’ representative took issue with the report’s reference to crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction that were allegedly committed in the Philippines’ territory, in the context of the “war on drugs” campaign.  The inter-agency review panel, headed by his country’s Secretary of Justice, should be allowed to finish its work of reinvestigating cases involving fatalities in the campaign against illegal drugs, he said.  “The precipitate move of the (Court) prosecutor, as captured in the report, is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” he stressed.

In other business today, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft decision by which it approved the participation of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector in the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons”.  The organizations are listed in the annex of the text (document A/76/L.9).

The Assembly also filled vacancies in three of its subsidiary bodies, having before it the Secretary-General’s notes on the election of members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (document A/76/364); the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences (document A/76/106)); and the appointment of members of the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/76/365).

Also speaking today were the representatives of Argentina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Mexico, Cuba, Japan, Australia, Estonia, Chile, Ireland, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, France, El Salvador, the United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Georgia, Colombia, Senegal, New Zealand, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Syria, as well as the State of Palestine.

The representative of Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 12 November, to elect members of the International Law Commission.

Election of Members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination

The Assembly elected five States ‑ Botswana, Chile, Kenya, Paraguay and the Russian Federation ‑ as members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the main subsidiary organ of the Assembly and Economic and Social Council for planning, programming and coordination.  The States had been nominated by the Economic and Social Council for three-year terms of office, beginning 1 January 2022.  Botswana and Kenya are filling two seats among the Group of African States; the Russian Federation is filling one seat among the Eastern European States; and Chile and Paraguay are filling two seats among the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Appointment of Members of the Committee on Conferences

Turning to the Committee on Conferences, the Assembly took note of the Assembly President’s appointment of four States ‑ Côte d’Ivoire, Iran, Poland and Portugal ‑ for three-year terms, beginning 1 January 2022.  The appointments were made after consultation with the Chairs of the Group of African States, Group of Asia-Pacific States, and the Eastern European States.  The Committee on Conferences, reporting to the Assembly through the Administrative and Budgetary Committee, acts as an oversight body of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management.

Appointment of Members of the Joint Inspection Unit

The Assembly then considered the appointment of four Member States to the Joint Inspection Unit, the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system.  It carries out evaluations, inspections and investigations across the system.  The Assembly appointed Iraq to fill a seat among the Asia-Pacific States and the Russian Federation to fill a seat from the Eastern European States.  After a secret ballot, Botswana, which drew 103 votes, was appointed to fill a seat from the Group of African States; and Antigua and Barbuda, which drew 108 votes, was appointed to fill a seat from the Latin American and Caribbean States.

Report of International Criminal Court

The Assembly then continued its debate on the report of the International Criminal Court that began Wednesday.  (For background, see Press Release GA/12381 of 10 November.)

MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) said that as a State party to the Rome Statute since 2002, her country participates in various forums to promote the Court’s efforts to strengthen the international criminal justice system.  Since its establishment, the Court has been essential to the fight against impunity, the promotion of human rights and the strengthening of the rule of law.  Describing the Rome Statute as the cornerstone of the international justice system, she said the Court offers hope to the thousands of victims around the world seeking justice and the guarantee that no one is above the law, regardless of their official position or the power they possess.  Yet, the Court has faced many internal and external challenges in recent years, she said, stressing the importance of the review process and implementation of recommendations by the independent panel of experts.  Underscoring the need to improve the Court’s functioning, she drew attention to the principle of universality in overcoming the perception of selectivity in the application of international criminal justice.  She called on States that have not done so to accede to the Rome Statute and to fully cooperate with the Court, welcoming that, following the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, States Parties continue to ratify the amendment.  States Parties must provide the Court with all the support necessary to ensure its integrity and independence, she added.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) urged accountability for all grave human rights violations, which must be thoroughly investigated to avoid impunity, and comply with international law and the United Nations Charter.  “We must remind ourselves that impunity is not an abstract concept, but a kind of perverse virus that contaminates everything around it,” she said, adding that the question is not whether accountability is necessary, but how it is best achieved.  Progress on accountability must not be constrained by States that have not yet joined the Rome Statute.  “When we fixate on the absence of some Member States, we buy into the myth of their exceptionalism and stunt the progress of international justice,” she said.  States that shun the Court’s actions and power of influence do so because they know the Court has the skill to fulfil its mandate and effectively bring perpetrators of the most severe crimes to justice.  They know that, as the shift towards the universality of the Rome Statute and acceptance of its complementary jurisdiction continues, the international community will ultimately succeed in closing outstanding loopholes.  “The International Criminal Court is here to stay,” she stressed.

IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), aligning himself with the European Union, recalled the tragedy of Vukovar and many other crimes committed elsewhere in his country, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.  Croatia has been a steadfast supporter of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as well as of the International Criminal Court, being the first State in the region to ratify its Statute.  He invited the Court to consider the implementation of recommendations from independent experts, while fully respecting its impartiality and independence.  He also underscored the crucial role of civil society in engaging with the Court and other stakeholders.  For the Court to fulfil its great preventive potential, decisions by the Security Council on whether to refer cases to it must be evidence-based, and not driven by national interests.  He urged all States to ensure full cooperation with the Court, stressing that “universal ratification and full national implementation of the Rome Statute are needed to help prevent atrocities and end impunity for their perpetrators”.  He therefore called on those Member States yet to ratify the Rome Statute, to do so. “No more tragedies like Vukovar, Srebrenica or Rwanda”, he said.

JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico) said the agreements reached by Colombia and Venezuela with the Office of the Prosecutor invite the international community to reflect on the role of the Court and recall the complementarity conferred by the Rome Statute.  The duty to prosecute crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, war crimes and genocide, is primarily incumbent on States through their national jurisdictions, he said.  The veto should not be used to prevent the referral of situations to the Court when the majority of Security Council members deem it relevant and necessary.  He reiterated his call to countries that have not yet done so to join the France-Mexico initiative on the voluntary restriction of veto use in cases of mass atrocities.  Stressing that the Court can only be truly effective if it achieves universality, he invited those States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute.  He also urged States Parties to ratify the amendments adopted by the Assembly.

YUSNIER ROMERO PUENTES (Cuba) reaffirmed support for the International Criminal Court to deal with armed conflicts and crimes against humanity, underlining the role of international judicial institutions.  However, the Court is far from being independent, he said, expressing regret over the influence of the Security Council in its activities.  He drew attention to the principles of independence, transparency and impartiality in the administration of justice, which have been threatened by a selective policy in the fight against impunity.  He called for the establishment of a fair and equitable Court that works in tandem with national justice systems, without politicization, in line with the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.  He expressed concern about the Court’s decisions to prosecute nationals of non-State parties that do not recognize its jurisdiction, underscoring Cuba’s commitment to tackle impunity — and while not a party to the Statute — to comply with the principles of transparency, independence, impartiality and respect for international law.

OSUGA TAKESHI (Japan), noting that his country is the largest provider of financial support to the Court, said it should strive to strengthen its universality through wider membership. To this end, Japan has always underscored the importance of forging a cooperative relationship between the Court and non-States Parties, and maintaining established interpretation of the principle of complementarity, he said.  Noting a growing number of cases considered by the Court, he pointed to the need to set proper priorities for situations and cases, and expedite investigation, prosecution, and judicial proceedings.  Noting that the Court is first and foremost an international organization, he said Japan will engage in thorough discussions on ways to reinforce the Court’s organizational strength as well as contribute to its reform.

FIONA WEBSTER (Australia), noting that the International Criminal Court is one of last resort, that is complementary to national jurisdictions, underscored its critical role in upholding the rules underpinning the international rules-based order.  She expressed hope that the Court’s reform process will assist it in aligning its resources and strategic direction with its mandate, improve overall governance structures, enhance the efficiency of existing judicial processes and ensure that only credible investigations are pursued.  The Court must continue to deliver effectively and efficiently “within the reality of finite resources”, while reforms should address the persistent gender imbalance in the Court’s staff, especially at higher levels.  It is essential that the United Nations — including its senior leadership and field presence — continue to support and cooperate with the tribunal, she added, noting that both strive towards the same goals, despite their distinct mandates.

ANDRE LIPAND (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, noted the ongoing review process of the Court with all State parties to the Rome Statute will result in concrete steps to strengthen the Court and enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.  At the same time, the independence and impartiality of the Court ought not be impinged upon, he said.  The States Parties to the Rome Statute have demonstrated their strong support to the Court this year with determination to stand against any threats to the Court.  In that context, he welcomed the withdrawal of sanctions against the Court’s officials earlier this year.  The dialogue between the Court and the Security Council on matters of mutual interest, both thematic and situation‑specific, could be enhanced further with a view toward strengthening synergies between the mandates of both entities, he said.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said the International Criminal Court represents a long-sought achievement of the international community, which requires the full support of States Parties to the Rome Statute.  Emphasizing the importance of the Court’s independence, he said freedom from political or other interference is critical in fully discharging its function and deterring the commission of crimes against humanity or international humanitarian law.  Complementarity must be a guiding principle in relations between the Court and national jurisdictions, he added, which States must strengthen and gear towards fighting impunity.  Noting that the Court has no police service, he strongly encouraged States to conclude cooperation agreements with Parties to the Rome Statute.  Further, cooperation between the Court and Security Council is key to dialogue, coordination and joint action, as the two bodies enjoy complementary jurisdictions in combatting impunity and upholding the international legal order.

BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, said that while the Court faces challenges in pursuing the ideals of the drafters of the Rome Statute, it is heartening to see the progress highlighted in the annual report.  In embracing the review process, Ireland remains steadfast in its support for the immutable principles that underpin the work of the Court, he noted, stressing that the work of the Court must not be politicized, and narrow national interests should never override the higher call of international justice.  To that end, he called on all States to respect the integrity of the Court and to cooperate actively with its investigations in order to ensure that true accountability on behalf of the victims of atrocity crimes is realized.  On the relationship between the Court and the Security Council, he underscored the importance of consistency and objectivity with respect to referrals and advocated for the reform of the Council veto.  However, such reforms alone are not enough, he stressed, noting that the referral of cases must be accompanied by consistent follow‑up support from the Council.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), underscoring his country’s strong commitment to the Rome Statute, said that in February 2020 the Government requested the Court to investigate and identify criminal responsibilities borne by United States individuals who perpetrated acts of extermination against Venezuelans, based on the illegal application of a cruel economic blockade, which prevents Venezuelans from accessing food and medicine.  Given its systematic and intentional nature, the blockade is clearly a crime against humanity, per article 7 of the Rome Statute.  In addition, Venezuela will apply again to the Court to investigate and determine criminal responsibilities borne by Colombia in acts of assassination, forced disappearance and persecution of Venezuelans who, for economic reasons, migrated to that country and who are now victims of violence.

“There is open and unpunished encouragement of these acts by senior authorities of the Government of President Iván Duque,” he asserted.  While Venezuela does not share the Prosecutor’s decision in that regard, it is nonetheless ready to collaborate with that Office, in line with the principle of complementarity, to establish truth and justice, and he pointed to the memorandum of understanding between his country and the Prosecutor’s office in that context.  Stressing that national authorities bear the primary responsibility for prosecuting Rome Statute crimes, he said the Court should only be involved when States are unprepared or unable to take action in their jurisdictions.  Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor has adopted measures to ensure the effective administration of justice, in line with its Rome Statute obligations, he said, underscoring the need for independence, impartiality and transparency in the Court’s work, and for it to avoid being used to advance political interests that undermine the Rome Statute.

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago) said the Court serves as a beacon of hope to victims of atrocities around the world, who are seeking justice.  He noted the Court’s jurisdiction is only invoked over those who are alleged, in the face of preponderant evidence, to have committed grave crimes, in instances where States are either unwilling, or unable, to bring prosecutorial action against the alleged perpetrators.  “Accordingly, we reiterate that no State or individual should fear the International Criminal Court, as it is a court of last resort,” he said.  There is a strong link between greater strengthening of the Court and the Rome Statute’s universality, he said, encouraging all States to swiftly ratify and fully implement the Rome Statute.  The Court recognizes victims as important stakeholders in the criminal justice system.  The Trust Fund for Victims contributes immensely to long-lasting peace, by helping victims return to a dignified livelihood in their communities.  The Trust Fund’s activities increased in 2020 and 2021 from six project contracts, with implementing partners, to 27.  He encouraged States and other entities that are financially able to contribute to the Fund so as to sustain and expand its assistance programmes, as well as Court-ordered reparations.

DIARRA DIME LABILLE (France), aligning herself with the European Union, recalled that the International Criminal Court remains the only permanent international criminal court with a universal vocation.  She urged all States to ensure the timely execution of arrest warrants and stressed that cooperation with the Court also means providing it with the necessary financial means to successfully carry out its mandate. She recalled France’s commitment to the independence of the Court and highlighted that special assistance and support must be provided to victims.  The activities of the Trust Fund for Victims of crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction have considerably expanded its activities throughout 2020 and 2021. She reiterated support for reforms to enhance the Court’s efficiency and authority, stressing the importance of multilingualism and the balance of legal traditions, which are a guarantee of legitimacy and effectiveness.

POLLY IOANNOU (Cyprus) welcomed the additional ratifications of the amendments on the crime of aggression during the reporting period and urged all States Parties to do likewise.  While this was recognized as an international crime before the Rome Statute, the Statute created a judicial mechanism to enforce this criminalization.  The Security Council should carefully examine the commission of international crimes in situations before it and consider referrals as a matter of course in its deliberations.  Noting that international justice is the United Nations’ most undervalued pillar, she said cooperation between the Court and the Organization is natural and indispensable.  Member States must collectively commit to fully support the Court and protect its judicial and prosecutorial independence and integrity.  The ongoing work of the Review Mechanism gives the Court an opportunity to improve how it delivers justice to the victims of atrocity crimes.  Its work should advance in a way that respects the Court’s independence.  Noting the Court’s significant change in leadership over the past year, she said the Court should make strengthening the selection process of its high officials a priority.  It also should ensure that only the most highly qualified individuals are selected through fair, transparent and merit-based processes, including through the establishment of a vetting mechanism.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) emphasized the importance of the Rome Statute, reaffirming her country’s rejection of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Noting that the Court should function as a central organ for criminal law, in line with the peacebuilding principles of the United Nations, she recalled that El Salvador has been a State party to the Rome Statute since 2016.  There is tangible proof that the Court can close the legal void when national courts fail to prosecute atrocity crimes.  Noting that it has faced several challenges during the COVID‑19 pandemic ‑ including the renewal of its leadership with the election of six new judges ‑ she then turned to the Court’s review process and drew attention to the framework presented by the group of independent experts.  She reiterated El Salvador’s policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, in line with the expert group’s recommendations, urging all countries to ratify the Rome Statute and expressing support for the principles enshrined therein, which guarantee respect for international justice.

CHANAKA LIAM WICKREMASINGHE (United Kingdom) welcomed the fact that the Court has delivered the verdict in the case of Dominic Ongwen, and confirmed the conviction of Bosco Ntaganda, who was found guilty of, amongst other heinous crimes, sexual enslavement and rape.  Stressing that the Court has a crucial role to play in entrenching the rule of law, ending impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern, and achieving justice for victims, he highlighted that his country has been, and will remain, a consistently strong supporter of the Court, including for the election of the best possible judges.  Noting that the Court has seen successes and significant change over the past year, he said the United Kingdom continues to provide significant financial, practical and political support, including for reforms to the Court needed to efficiently and effectively address the range of challenges it faces.  He also welcomed the ongoing efforts to pursue an inclusive State party-driven process to pursue the reform agenda and the cooperation of the Court’s principals in doing so.

BAE JONGIN (Republic of Korea) said Member States’ active engagement in implementing the Independent Expert Review recommendations will significantly contribute to overcoming the obstacles faced by the Court and further improve the efficiency of its operations.  Underscoring that a chronic imbalance of geographical representation in the recruitment of the Court’s staff disfavours some countries and regions, particularly the Asia‑Pacific, he said the Court should reflect an equitable geographical representation to further strengthen cooperation between the Court and States Parties.  It would also ensure a diversity of perspectives, which is crucial to addressing the negative perceptions about the Court and advancing the universality of the Rome Statute.  In that regard, Member States must raise awareness of the fact that ratification of the Rome Statute does not equate to a concession of sovereignty, considering the principle of complementarity.

OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), aligning himself with the European Union, said the International Criminal Court is an essential instrument for fighting impunity and promoting international order, based on the rule of law.  The international criminal justice system is vital in ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes and justice for victims, he said, drawing attention to recent illegal acts in Myanmar and Sudan.  Noting that 15 cases are currently being investigated by the Office of the Prosecutor, he underscored the need to endow the Court with needed resources to fulfil its mandate.  Adding that Luxembourg is firmly opposed to any attempts to hamper the Court’s work, he said independence is crucial for its effectiveness in upholding justice and human rights.

SALOME SUPATASHVILI (Georgia), associating with the European Union, reaffirmed support for the Court’s vital role in the fight against impunity, investigating the most serious crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice.  Recognizing the importance of the independent expert review, she called for strengthening the Court in terms of institutional and budgetary means.  Drawing attention to the situation in Georgia, she said the Government continues to undertake intensive efforts to match the increasing need for investigation.  She joined the Prosecutor’s call on the Russian Federation to cooperate in the investigation in the interest of seeking justice for the victims of the conflict.  In its judgment, the European Court of Human Rights legally established the effect of the Russian Federation’s occupation.  Pointing to that country’s responsibility for the killing, torture and arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians and military personnel, she said the time has come to bring justice to the victims of the most serious crimes, in Georgia and elsewhere.

GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia) said that 2021 has been a special year in the relationship between his country and the International Criminal Court, whose Prosecutor on 28 October decided to close the preliminary examination of the situation in his country, which began 17 years ago.  Ordinary and transitional courts must now hear cases against perpetrators of international concern.  He welcomed that national institutions, whether ordinary justice or transitional justice bodies, will now judge the most serious crimes under international law.  These institutions will not work alone, thanks to the cooperation agreement between Colombia and the Prosecutor’s Office.  This innovative accord — the only one to date — enables the Prosecutor to exchange good practices with Colombia’s courts outside the preliminary examination framework.  It will redefine the way the Court honours the tasks entrusted to it under the Rome Statute.  Noting that the Court adapts to circumstances, he said Colombia will remain its strategic ally and a State that cares about its future.

ABDOU NDOYE (Senegal) stated that the Court should take all measures to protect the lives of individuals who face serious crimes.  Achieving the aspirations of the Court will require the political will of the international community.  He invited all States to ratify the Rome Statute as all victims should be able to get equitable access to justice.  He also urged the international community to support national justice systems when prosecuting crimes.

ENRIQUE AUSTRIA MANALO (Philippines) said his country will disassociate itself from the resolution welcoming the Court’s 2020/21 report, which contains references to the Philippines under Section II, update on judicial and prosecutorial activities, in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines, in the context of the “war on drugs” campaign.  The Philippines finds deeply regrettable the actions by the Court’s then-outgoing Prosecutor to seek judicial authorization to proceed with an investigation of the situation in his country.  He emphasized that the inter-agency review panel headed by his country’s Secretary of Justice was established to reinvestigate cases involving fatalities in the campaign against illegal drugs, and that panel is continuing its work, and should be allowed to finish it.  “The precipitate move of the prosecutor, as captured in the report, is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” he said.

His Government has recently signed with the United Nations its first-ever joint programme on human rights in the Philippines, he said, which puts together the capacities and resources of the United Nations in support of a wide range of national institutions.  Those actions affirm the Philippines’ adherence to human rights norms and its long track record of constructive engagement with international and regional partners in human rights promotion and protection.  Notwithstanding his country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, he reaffirmed its commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, noting that it has national legislation punishing such crimes.  The States Parties to the Rome Statute envisioned a court with a complementary, not primary, jurisdiction for the prosecution of the persons most responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern, he pointed out.

LUKE ROUGHTON (New Zealand), urging States Parties to support the Court as it consolidates its work, expressed support for its role as an independent judicial institution.  That independence must be respected and protected, he said, welcoming the United States recent decision to withdraw visa restrictions and economic sanctions previously imposed on the Court’s Prosecutor.  Emphasizing that the Court’s mandate and credibility are intrinsically tied to its independence and impartiality, he said New Zealand stands committed to the Rome Statute and its underpinning principles of complementarity, cooperation and universality.  He reiterated that the primary responsibility for robust and appropriate measures, when faced with the commission of international crimes, lies with States.  The Court is an independent body of last resort to try such crimes.  As such, domestic courts and judicial processes that secure accountability for the perpetrators of international crimes are crucial.  Against that backdrop, he encouraged States Parties that have not done so, to consider incorporating Rome Statute crimes and principles into their domestic laws.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said his country has lodged two declarations accepting the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory due to Russian aggression.  The Office of the Prosecutor is currently analysing crimes in Crimea and eastern Ukraine to define potential cases for investigation.  The Prosecutor’s report clearly identifies sufficient grounds to believe war crimes and crimes against humanity, including those against civilians, committed in both Crimea and Donbas fall within the Court’s jurisdiction.  The Prosecutor has recognized that the situation in Ukraine meets the criteria of the Rome Statute to open an investigation and will soon begin the next step of seeking judicial authorization to launch it.  Cooperating with the Court, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, along with civil society organizations and human rights defenders, are providing the Court with additional information, facts and evidence relating the existing conflict in Ukraine to an international one, caused by foreign armed aggression, as well as numerous war crimes committed by the aggressor-state armed forces and proxies in the country.

PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka), noting that his country is not a member of the Statute, shared several observations on the Court’s functions and mandate.  A tribunal is not an abstract entity, but operates in an environment under the laws that established it, he said, emphasizing that the primary responsibility for ensuring justice lies with the State.  In practice, resolving cases efficiently comes into question, as trial costs put burdens on prosecutors to do more with fewer resources, he said, adding:  “We cannot sacrifice justice for expediency.”  Pointing to examples where donors had imposed reforms favouring economy over fairness, he said that, while reform is a good notion in principle, the question remains as to whether it leads to impeding adequate representation at the Court.  Similarly, there have been efforts by some to turn the Court into a political tool, he said, adding that the Assembly must ensure these challenges are overcome so the Court can fulfil its mandate.

MAJED S. F. BAMYA, observer for the State of Palestine, stressed that a permanent court to prosecute crimes against humanity is not only indispensable for victims who have no other avenue for justice and redress, it is a milestone in the progress of human civilization.  Questioning Israel’s argument that the report of the Human Rights Council belongs “in the dustbin of antisemitism”, he stressed that antisemitism led to one of the worst horrors in human history, the Holocaust.  Claims of antisemitism cannot be used to shield the Israeli occupation from condemnation or perpetrators of crimes from being held accountable before the Court.  Pointing out that many Jews have been involved in the fight against colonialism and apartheid, for civil rights and Palestinian rights, and for the promotion and defence of international law, he questioned the role of States.  “What should they do, openly adopt double standards, and say these rules can only be applied to some and not others, that there are perpetrators who can never be held to account, and there are victims who can always be deprived of justice?” he asked.  Emphasizing that rules are not directed against anyone, but for the benefit of all, he said that having a court to uphold these rules in the face of the worst crimes and striving towards the Rome Statute’s universality, is the duty of all States, to bring justice to those who endured horrors in the past and those enduring them at present. 

Action

The representative of Israel, in explanation of vote before the vote, disassociated herself from consensus on the resolution for the reasons her delegation has expressed in the past.  As early advocates for the establishment of the Court and as a nation State of the Jewish people, Israel remains committed to ensuring perpetrators of mass atrocities that deeply shocked the consciousness of humanity are held accountable.  Expressing hope the Court will avoid politicization and double standards which undermine its legitimacy and legal authority, she urged States Parties to support measures that would align its work with the objectives envisioned by its founders.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution “Report of the International Criminal Court” (document A/76/L.7) without a vote.

The representative of the Russian Federation stated that the Court’s annual report, like all its previous reports, reflects the Court’s policy of selective administration of justice.  He said the Court changed the provisions of the Rome Statute and sought to justify its own claims by “creatively interpreting” the rules of customary international law on the immunity of State officials.  He questioned the Court’s contribution to stabilizing country situations, as well as its role in preventing new crimes, and in national reconciliation.  Turning to the cases of Libya and Darfur, he said any positive dynamics in these two contexts are the exclusive merit of citizens and national authorities.  It is possible for national jurisdictions to ensure the perpetrators of crimes are held to account.  Doing so also saves money, he stressed.  The Russian Federation does not support the idea of examining the Court report in United Nations bodies and disassociates itself from the consensus on the resolution, he stated.

In their statements, the representatives of Georgia and Ukraine made “spurious allegations”, he said.  While not wanting to comment on those statements, he acknowledged that his delegation shares the view of both countries that the Court is politicized.

The representative of Syria rejected the concept of universal competency brought by certain States, underlining that the principles of justice, accountability and impartiality were used in a biased way.  While his delegation did not raise any objection to the consideration of the item during the General Assembly, he disassociated himself from the consensus on “L.7”.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, responding to criticism against her country, deplored that people were used as human shields during the conflicts in Gaza.  She stressed that Israel is ready to discuss outstanding issues while regretting the false accusations made against her country.

Joint Inspection Unit:  Results of Secret Ballot

African States (one country)

Number of ballots:

189

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

189

Abstentions:

0

Present and voting:

189

Required majority:

95

Number of votes obtained by State:

Botswana

103

Chad

86

Latin America and Caribbean States (one country):

Number of ballots

189

Number of ballots:

2

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

187

Abstentions:

4

Present and voting:

183

Required majority:

92

Number of votes obtained by State:

Antigua and Barbuda

138

Peru

45

Having obtained the required majority, Botswana (African States) and Antigua and Barbuda (Latin American and Caribbean States) were requested to propose one candidate each from their respective regions to be appointed to the Joint Inspection Unit.

For information media. Not an official record.

MIL OSI United Nations News