I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Finland.
Let me start by thanking the International Criminal Court for its annual report to the United Nations. I would also like to thank Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the ICC, for his very informative presentation highlighting key issues in the report. Both the report and his introduction distinctly reflect the increasing activities of the Court.
The reporting period is marked by significant events for the ICC and for the global fight against impunity. In February, the Security Council used for the second time the powers granted in the Rome Statute and unanimously referred the Libyan situation to the Court. This is yet another acknowledgement of the fact that the ICC is a necessary tool in ensuring that perpetrators of international crimes are brought to justice. Recently, the Pre-Trial Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s request for authorization to open investigations proprio motu into the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. The ICC is today more relevant on the international scene than ever before.
Also the number of judicial proceedings as well as investigations and preliminary examinations is growing. All this puts pressure on the Court to deliver on its core function: ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes of international concern. As the workload is increasing, necessary resources have to be ensured for the Court to fulfil the mandate given to it. The effective functioning of the Court is of utmost importance for the Nordic countries.
The end of current reporting period is also marked by the tragic news of Judge Antonio Cassese’s death. Judge Cassese was the first President of both the Special Court for Lebanon and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and he also had a long career in academia. He was one of the most prominent figures in the field of international criminal justice and he will be sadly missed.
The Nordic countries welcome the first ratification by San Marino of the Kampala amendments to Article 8 of the Rome Statute. The jurisdictional reach of the Court is also expanding as the number of States Parties to the Statute constantly grows. As Cape Verde recently became the 119th State to join the Statute, the goal of universal ratification is again one step closer. The Nordic countries warmly welcome to the ICC family also Seychelles, Saint Lucia, the Republic of Moldova, Grenada, Tunisia, Philippines and Maldives that have all ratified the Rome Statute since the beginning of the reporting period.
The Court is not, however, able to carry out its mandate without strong co-operation from States. It is a very worrying development indeed that the number of outstanding arrest warrants is also growing. We would like once more to remind of the States Parties’ legal commitment to co-operate with the Court and to respect the obligations of the Rome Statute. Similarly, in the Darfur situation we call on all States, and the Sudanese authorities in particular, to cooperate fully with the Court and to comply with their legal obligations under Security Council resolution 1593 (2005). We would also encourage the Security Council to consider measures that would ensure compliance with resolution 1593.
As far as the co-operation extended by the United Nations to the Court is concerned, the Nordic countries have taken note with great satisfaction of the various forms that such co-operation has taken, as detailed in the report before us.
The Court does not only play an important role in ensuring that those who have committed the gravest crimes cannot escape justice. In addition, the ICC and the Rome Statute system have a role in the broader framework of fostering the Rule of Law. It is the States that bear the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute ICC crimes in accordance with the principle of complementarity governing the Court’s jurisdiction. This relationship received new impetus by the Kampala Conference and its preparatory process.
There are persuasive arguments for enhancing the national capacities to try alleged perpetrators. In this respect we would like to draw attention to the ICC’s Legal Tools programme. The Legal Tools Database is the leading resource for legal information on core international crimes and will help those who are entrusted with the investigation, prosecution, defence and adjudication of such crimes to work more cost‐effectively.
It is of great significance for the victims and their communities to see that perpetrators are brought to justice in their own country. In cases where national trials are not an option for various reasons, the International Criminal Court is an indispensable vehicle in ensuring justice and accountability. It is also vital to ensure that the issue of victims’ participation and protection remains high on the agenda of the International Criminal Court.
Let me finish by reiterating the firm and long-standing support of the Nordic countries to the International Criminal Court. As the Court is faced with challenges on many fronts, our resolution to overcome these challenges and to extinguish impunity must be even stronger.