Let me start by expressing Norway’s full and continuing support for the International Criminal Court, and our recognition of the Court’s work during the last year. Norway welcomes the ICC’s fifth annual report and would like to thank the President of the Court, Judge Song, for his detailed and informative presentation to the General Assembly here today.
Today I would like to focus on a few topical issues that are all significant for the Court’s work. They are the cooperation of States Parties and other States, the universality of the Rome Statute and the preparations for a successful Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda, next year.
Before addressing these issues, let me commend the Court and its staff for the progress made over the last year. The Court has commenced its first trial and the confirmation of charges against three individuals has been completed. The Court’s second trial is scheduled to start at the end of November. We welcome these developments.
However, eight arrest warrants remain outstanding. They pertain to the situations in Darfur, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a matter of grave concern to Norway, and brings me to the issue of State cooperation, without which the Court cannot function.
The ICC is dependent on the cooperation of the States Parties in particular. 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 therefore urge all States Parties concerned to fulfil their responsibility to make the outstanding arrest warrants effective. We also urge the Government of Sudan to cooperate fully with the Court and to comply with its legal obligations under Security Council resolution 1593 (2005).
Turning briefly to the issue of universality of the Rome Statute, we are pleased to note that with the entry into force of the Rome Statute for Chile on 1 September and for the Czech Republic on 1 October this year, there are now 110 States Parties to the Statute. It is a remarkable achievement that so many States from all regions have ratified the Statute in such a short period of time. It is also a genuine reflection of the international community’s increasing rejection of impunity for serious crimes, and evidence that there is a rising tide in favour of the rule of law. The crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the ICC are universally accepted as the most serious crimes of international concern, and we share a common responsibility to ensure that they are effectively investigated and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. We are now witnessing an historic shift towards universal acceptance 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 therefore call on all States to become parties to the Rome Statute.
The last issue I would like to mention is the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute, to be held in Kampala next year. The preparations for the conference are well under way, and Norway is committed to achieving a successful conference, and one that will further consolidate the Court’s position as a vital tool in the fight against impunity. To this end, we will continue working with other States and civil society actors over the coming months. The conference will provide the first opportunity to consider amendments to the Rome Statute and, more generally, the progress made in the field of international criminal justice.
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 all share the universal values that are fundamental to the protection of human dignity. This protection relies on concerted action to prevent the most serious crimes affecting the international community as a whole.
Thank you, Mr President.