Norway welcomes the International Criminal Court’s third annual report and would like to thank the President of the ICC, Judge Philippe Kirsch, for his presentation.
Norway is a staunch supporter of the ICC and we are very pleased to see the progress it has made during the past year. This year, the ICC celebrated the fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute. In spite of its young age, the Court is already steadily integrating itself into legal systems and into international institutions and relations.
The relationship between the ICC and the UN is of great importance. Ending climates of impunity requires determined cooperation by interlocutors who have international peace, justice and security as their common goals and ambition. The ICC is independent, but has strong legal, historical and operational ties with the UN.
The UN seeks to promote peace and justice based on human rights. These are distinct, but closely related objectives. They may be difficult to achieve simultaneously, but we have to strive for their achievement. In its quest for these objectives the ICC is an effective and important tool for ending impunity and promoting the rule of law.
The ICC can bring perpetrators of mass atrocities to justice when national systems are not able or willing to do so. The principle of complementarity provides a safety net. This is why the success of the ICC should never be evaluated solely on the basis of the number of cases it hears. We must remember that the mere existence of the ICC is making an impact on national systems, which are increasingly geared towards prevention and prosecution. The success of the Rome Statute should therefore be measured in terms of the overall decrease in impunity for such crimes and not in terms the number of defendants brought to The Hague. Moreover, whenever national authorities investigate, prosecute or pass judgements in cases concerning serious international crimes, this in itself reaffirms the core object of the ICC, that perpetrators of such crimes will be held accountable.
The interplay between the ICC and the UN is made clear in the Rome Statute itself and in the Relationship Agreement between the two parties. The preamble of the Rome Statute reaffirms the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other matter inconsistent with the Purpose of the United Nations. The ICC aspires to act in accordance with these purposes and principles. This is also apparent from the role the Security Council is given in the Statute. Referral by the Security Council is one of the ICC’s trigger mechanisms. The Security Council can also defer investigations or prosecutions in a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter.
It is with great satisfaction that we welcome the strengthening of the relationship between the ICC and the UN. We urge all States and international organizations to support the Court and the UN in their efforts to reach their common goals. Justice is also an important building block for peace, and the international community must ensure that the foundation for peace is solid and stands the test of time.
Norway welcomes the UN’s support in facilitating the ICC’s operation in the field.
We are also pleased to note that under the arrangements set out in the Relationship Agreement, the UN provided facilities and services for the resumed fifth session of the Assembly of States Parties, which was held at UN Headquarters at the beginning of the year. The sixth session will also be held at UN headquarters from 30 November to 14 December.
Norway welcomes the plan of action for achieving universality and full implementation of the Rome Statute, and will contribute actively to achieving its full implementation.
We are pleased to note that today more than 105 States are parties to the Rome Statute. This is also a geographical reflection of the regions represented in the General Assembly. It is in this respect a great pleasure to welcome Japan as the most recent entry on the list of States Parties. This is an important step towards universality. The number of States Parties is rising year by year, and Norway strongly hopes that the ICC will enjoy universal adherence in the future.
The ICC depends on the cooperation of the States Parties. All States Parties must do their utmost to provide the ICC with the best possible working conditions. Norway expects states with legal obligations under the Statute, or that have entered into cooperation agreements with the ICC, to fulfil their obligations and to demonstrate their commitment to justice in practice. These states have a responsibility to advocate the Courts true nature and its vital importance in the pursuit of justice.
It is with grave concern that we note that six arrest warrants are outstanding – two pertaining to the situation in Darfur and four to the situation in Uganda, and we urge all the states involved to fulfil their responsibility to make these warrants effective.
It is important that also non-States Parties give the ICC their support. We were pleased to receive the news that Ukraine has acceded to the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities. It is the first non-state party to do so, and we encourage other states to follow this example.
The interplay between the different courts and tribunals in the international criminal justice system is important for the development of sustainable jurisprudence. We therefore welcome the memorandum of understanding between the ICC and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The ICC is providing assistance to enable the Special Court of Sierra Leone to conduct the trial of Charles Taylor in The Hague.
We would also like to draw particular attention to the ICC’s legal tools programme. This practical and analytical tool, under continuous development, is funded inter alia by the Norwegian Government. It aims to rationalise the way a number of institutions and individuals work with international crimes. The goal is to increase the quality of such work flows and to increase general access to precise information concerning international criminal law.
Finally, I would like to reiterate Norway’s firm and long-standing commitment to the integrity of the Rome Statute, and to an effective and credible International Criminal Court. We believe that the ICC should enjoy the broadest possible support from all states. We also believe that the long-term interests of all nations, irrespective of size, region or political orientation, are served by strengthening the rule of law and promoting justice. We all share the universal values attached to the protection of human dignity. This protection is enhanced through concerted action to suppress the most serious crimes that concern the international community as a whole.
Thank you, Mr President