Let me start by expressing Norway’s continuing support and full recognition of the work of the International Criminal Court during the last year. Norway welcomes the ICC’s fourth annual report and would like to thank the President of the Court, Judge Philippe Kirsch, for his detailed and informative report and presentation, which reflect the progress made during the period under review.
This July, the States Parties to the Rome Statute along with civil society organisations celebrated the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Statute. Celebrations were held in a number of locations to commemorate the milestone reached ten years ago, when a Court was created that would prevent impunity for mass atrocities and bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice when national systems were not able or willing to do so.
The relationship between the ICC and the UN is of great importance. Bringing climates of impunity to an end requires determined cooperation between actors 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 both peace and justice based on human rights. These are distinct, but closely related objectives. They may be difficult to achieve simultaneously, but we must strive to do so. In this quest, the ICC is an effective and important tool for ending impunity and promoting the rule of law.
The interplay between the ICC and the UN is made clear both 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. In particular 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.
Norway welcomes the strengthening of the relationship between the ICC and the UN. We urge all states and international organisations 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.
The mere existence of the ICC is making a significant impact on national systems, which are increasingly geared towards prevention and prosecution. The success of the ICC should therefore never be evaluated solely on the basis of the number of cases it hears. The success of the Rome Statute should be measured in terms of the overall decrease in impunity for such crimes and not in terms of 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 objective of the ICC, that perpetrators of such crimes will be held accountable.
However, when national systems are not willing or able to bring perpetrators to justice, the principle of complementarity provides a safety net. This requires international cooperation, which is of the utmost importance to the activities of the Court. This is also stressed in the report itself.
In the period under review, three individuals were surrendered to the ICC, enabling the Court to begin judicial proceedings against each of them. However, seven arrest warrants pertaining to the situations in Darfur, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo remain outstanding. This is a matter of grave concern for Norway.
The credibility of the Court is not solely dependent on the number of cases brought before it. Nevertheless, the outstanding arrest warrants, four of which have been outstanding for over three years, give cause for concern. We urge all the states involved to fulfil their responsibility to make these warrants effective. With regard to the situation in Darfur, the Prosecutor has reported to the Security Council in the period under review that the Sudanese Government is still failing to comply with its legal obligations under Security Council resolution 1593. We therefore urge Sudan to cooperate fully with the Court and to comply with its legal obligations without further delay.
We are pleased to note that with the entry into force of the Rome Statute for Suriname and the Cook Islands on 1 October 2008, there are now 108 States Parties to the Statute. 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.
Furthermore, several states became signatories to the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court, bringing the total number of signatories to 63 states by the end of the period under review. We urge more states to follow suit.
The ICC is dependent on the cooperation of the States Parties. As stressed in the report, the Court relies on cooperation in areas such as facilitating investigations, arresting and surrendering persons, protecting witnesses and enforcing sentences. 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. We also urge more states to enter into agreements with the Court.
The interplay between the various courts and tribunals in the international criminal justice system is important for the development of sustainable jurisprudence. We would like to draw particular attention to the cooperation between the ICC and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The ICC is providing courtroom and detention services and facilities and other related assistance to the Special Court for Sierra Leone for conducting the trial of Mr Charles Taylor in The Hague.
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 by taking concerted action to suppress the most serious crimes affecting the international community as a whole.
Thank you, Mr President