Intimidation, Cyberattacks, Challenges Will Not Stop International Criminal Court from Fulfilling Its Mandate, Says President, as General Assembly Takes Up Report

Despite intimidation, cyberattacks and a heavy caseload, the International Criminal Court will not be deterred from its work, including helping victims get restitution, its President stressed, as the General Assembly today took up the Court’s annual report. 

Piotr Hofmański, presenting the annual report (document A/78/322), detailed what he described as unacceptable and unprecedented threats and attacks by the Russian Federation, which has placed the Court’s Prosecutor, six judges and Mr. Hofmański on a wanted list for criminal prosecution in reaction to the Court’s two arrest warrants related to the situation in Ukraine for the alleged unlawful deportation of the population and the unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

Also reporting on the recent cyberattack against the Court’s information systems ‑ attempts aimed at undermining the Court’s work ‑ he declared: “I want to be clear that these challenges will not stop us from carrying out our mandate, independently and impartially.” 

Turning to the Court’s current docket, he reported on several active situations, including the Appeals Chamber’s upholding the conviction and 25-year sentence in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a brigade commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, for crimes committed in northern Uganda between 2002 and 2005, including the use of child soldiers, murder, torture and sexual and gender-based crimes.  Among other things, he also noted that sixteen people were subject to publicly announced arrest warrants relating to eight different situations and urged Member States to cooperate on those outstanding warrants. 

He also announced the achievement of a major milestone, that being the first completion of court-ordered reparations in the Katanga case, concerning crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003.  Several hundred victims have been beneficiaries of the reparations delivered through the Trust Fund for Victims, he said, adding that the Fund is implementing other programmes to benefit close to 17,000 people around the world.  “I am proud to work for a Court whose founders had the wisdom to make reparations a key part of its concept of justice,” he stated.

Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, in his opening remarks, described the International Criminal Court as a critical pillar of the international legal order.  “It serves as an emphatic reminder that no one — I repeat, no one — should be exempt from accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” he said. 

As the floor opened for debate, many speakers commended the Court for the vital role it plays in the international rules-based order as an instrument for peace, security and justice, while condemning intimidation attempts and attacks directed at the Court and its officers.

Estonia’s delegate, also speaking for Latvia and Lithuania, welcomed the Court’s swift issuance of arrest warrants for the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and that country’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, for the alleged unlawful deportation and transfer of civilians from occupied areas to the Russian Federation.  “We urge the [Court] to continue its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice since deportation of children is only one of many crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine,” he said. 

Echoing that point, the representative of Ukraine said the Court’s issuance of the two arrest warrants clearly signifies that everyone must stand trial for their actions.  Noting that those arrest warrants will play a preventive role as well, he called on Member States to support the Court and condemned all attempts to undermine its work.

The complex and volatile international situation, observed China’s delegate, has meant more cases for the Court.  Thus, it is even more important that it maintains its neutrality.  Expressing expectations that politicization and double standards will be avoided, he also noted that the Court’s approach to State officials’ immunity has been controversial for years.  He voiced hope that, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the Court will reflect on its own role.

Nonetheless, Uganda’s delegate, speaking for the African States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, pointed out that the majority of the 31 cases opened by the Court are from countries affected by armed conflicts.  “Universal ratification of the Rome Statute and the incorporation of these norms into the domestic law of States must be a reality if all victims around the world are to have a chance to obtain justice,” he stressed. 

The representative of Mongolia also commended the Court’s dedication to victims, especially through the Trust Fund for Victims.  In that regard, consistent financial backing is essential, he said, also stressing the need to support the Court’s initiatives to identify and seize assets linked to crimes, which can be used for reparations to victims. 

To that point, Argentina’s delegate underlined that the Court helps guarantee that no one is above the law, regardless of the official position or power held by the perpetrator of atrocity crimes.  “The Court is the hope of thousands of victims around the world seeking justice,” she declared.

The delegate of the Netherlands also introduced the related draft resolution (document A/78/L.6), which calls on States Parties to adopt national legislation in line with the Rome Statute and urges States to take the mandate of the International Criminal Court into account during United Nations discussions. 

At the top of the meeting, the representative of the Russian Federation, in a point of order, requested a vote on the draft resolution before the debate commenced, a stance echoed by the representative of Syria. However, the representatives of Canada, the Netherlands and Romania said that it was important to follow usual practices that gave all Member States time to prepare for a vote, with Romania’s delegate pointing out that the resolution itself references the report that was about to be presented.  “And logically, we’ll have to first listen to the report to react to it,” he said. 

Mr. Francis informed the General Assembly that the meeting would be held in accordance with the established practice, adding that it would also maintain the general practice widely upheld in the Assembly by postponing action on the resolution.

International Criminal Court 

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, said the International Criminal Court is a critical pillar of the international legal order.  “It serves as an emphatic reminder that no one — I repeat, no one — should be exempt from accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” he added.  The Court is indeed a truly unique embodiment of the world’s collective resolution to upholding the principles of justice and accountability. Its report highlights both the progress and the challenges faced by the body this year, specifically as regards the prevention and punishment of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.  These principles are fundamental to our global vision of peace and are integral to the mission of maintaining international peace and security, promoting respect for human rights, and delivering justice. 

The Court’s jurisdiction spans cases where State parties have brought situations to the attention of the Court, including situations referred by the Security Council, he continued.  While it may present a unique set of challenges, this duality in referral mechanisms underscores the importance of international cooperation. Despite these challenges, the hope for universal ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Kampala amendments serve as a profound affirmation of the Court’s enduring commitment to justice.  As more countries join and support the Court, the bold ambition of ending impunity for the most serious crimes becomes increasingly realistic to achieve.  “I underscore the need for universal cooperation with the Court among UN Member States in our common pursuit of a more just and peaceful world,” he said, calling upon States to support the International Criminal Court where it faces constraints in its pursuit of justice, including predictable funding. 

PIOTR HOFMAŃSKI, President of the International Criminal Court, introducing the Court’s annual report (document A/78/322), marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, adding that as the Court’s work has expanded, so have the challenges it faces.  These include the Court being subjected to unacceptable threats and attacks, among them the Russian Federation’s criminal proceedings against six judges and the Prosecutor which have placed these individuals, including himself, on a wanted list.  This is an unprecedented attack on the judicial independence at the international level, he said, noting that those criminal proceedings against the Court’s officials were a reaction to two arrest warrants related to the situation in Ukraine.  “Let me state something very clearly:  The ICC [International Criminal Court] is acting squarely within the boundaries of its mandate,” he emphasized, adding that it is unacceptable that he and his colleagues should be subjected to intimidation for that reason.  He also expressed grave concern over a recent cyberattack against the Court’s information systems, a serious attempt to undermine the Court’s mandate.  “I want to be clear that these challenges will not stop us from carrying out our mandate, independently and impartially,” he declared.

Turning to the current caseload, he reported that there are a total of 16 active situations before the Court currently.  Highlighting some key developments, he noted that the Appeals Chamber upheld the conviction and the 25‑year sentence in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a brigade commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, for crimes committed in northern Uganda between 2002 and 2005, including the use of child soldiers, attacks against the civilian population, murder, torture and sexual and gender-based crimes such as rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage and forced pregnancy.  Regarding Ukraine, Pre-Trial Chamber II issued two arrest warrants in relation to the alleged unlawful deportation of the population and the unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

There has also been a great deal of other activity in the Court’s two Pre‑Trial Chambers this past year, but much is confidential and therefore cannot be publicly discussed, he continued.  A total of 16 persons are subject to publicly announced arrest warrants, relating to eight different situations, he said, urging Member States to assist by cooperating on outstanding arrest warrants.  Furthermore, three trials are currently in the presentation of evidence stage.  Two of these concern events in the Central African Republic in 2013 and 2014 and one trial relates to the alleged crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan in 2003 and 2004.  A fourth trial, on alleged crimes committed in Timbuktu, Mali, was brought to conclusion and the Chamber is deliberating on its judgment.

In the case of Maxime Mokom, in the situation in the Central African Republic, the Office of the Prosecutor withdrew the charges earlier this month, he said.  The Prosecutor informed the Chamber that, having considered the evidence and given the changed circumstances regarding the availability of witnesses, there was no reasonable prospect for a conviction.  In the situations in Afghanistan, Philippines and Venezuela, the Office of the Prosecutor resumed its investigations following judicial rulings on admissibility.  In the situations regarding Georgia and the Central African Republic, the Office of the Prosecutor announced the end of the investigative phase, meaning that, beyond the cases pending before the Court, the Prosecutor does not intend to pursue any new lines of inquiry into the alleged criminal responsibility of other persons or for other conduct.

He also announced the achievement of a major milestone, that being the first completion of court-ordered reparations in the Katanga case, concluded earlier this month, concerning crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003.  Several hundred victims have been beneficiaries of the reparations delivered through the Trust Fund for Victims, he said, adding that victims in three other cases participated in reparation programmes during the past year.  The Fund is implementing other programmes to benefit close to 17,000 people around the world.  “I am proud to work for a Court whose founders had the wisdom to make reparations a key part of its concept of justice,” he stated.

YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), aligning with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, introduced the draft resolution (document A/78/L.6), noting that that this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute system “which ushered in a new age of accountability”.  More so, the number of States parties to the system has more than doubled from 60 in 2002 to 123 presently, with that number expected to increase soon.  The system has spurred major criminal law reforms on all continents, further enabling States to prosecute international crimes before their domestic courts.  Observing that the Court’s system could be further expanded and gaps in its jurisdiction closed so the Statute can become universally applicable, she called on States to ratify it and its amendments, adding her support for special accountability mechanisms like missions of inquiry and evidence gathering mechanisms, which complement the Court’s work.

She underscored the importance of strengthening cooperation between States in investigating war crimes, crimes of genocide and other international crimes, urging Member States to support the fight against impunity and sign the Ljubljana–The Hague Convention in February 2024.  She also encouraged Member States to strengthen cooperation with the Court, promptly execute outstanding arrest warrants and offer voluntary cooperation by sharing evidence and supporting witness relocation.  Condemning the issuance of arrest warrants by authorities of the Russian Federation against the Court’s principals and judges, she also noted that the draft resolution welcomes the most recent report on the Court’s activities and acknowledges its role in the multilateral system, adding that it is a technical rollover from last year’s. 

Statements

STEPHAN MARQUARDT, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that, while States retain the primary responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of the most serious crimes of international concerns, the Court stands tall as a beacon of accountability worldwide.  However, the greater the Court’s efforts in its furtherance of justice, the higher the threats it faces.  Any attacks on the Court, its Prosecutor, judges and personnel are unacceptable, he stressed, adding:  “The recent cybersecurity attack against the Court is an unacceptable attempt to interfere with its mandate.”  International crimes are a threat to international peace and security and he called on the Security Council to use its right of referral to the Court, as well as to impose measures to promote States’ cooperation with the Court or address cases of non-cooperation when investigations and prosecutions are ongoing. 

He also encouraged the Assembly to consider providing funding for expenses incurred due to referrals by the Council, and urged the Court to continue extending its accountability efforts to cover the full range of civilians who are persecuted on account of gender.  The Rome Statute is the first international treaty to codify gender-related offences, including those of a sexual nature.  It criminalizes, for instance, gender persecution as a crime against humanity if committed in connection with any act referred to in article 7 of the Rome Statute, or any crime within the Court’s jurisdiction.  Noting the Court has no agenda other than to deliver justice for victims, he welcomed reforms to strengthen the Trust Fund for Victims and commended its reparation programmes that benefitted 17,000 individuals in 2022.  The Fund’s work is fundamental in implementing reparations and aiding rehabilitation for victims of the most heinous crimes.

ALAIN GERMEAUX (Luxembourg), associating himself with the European Union, said that the rules-based international order is under greater pressure than ever.  The Court’s highest officials are facing unacceptable threats for simply exercising their mandate.  Voicing his strong opposition to any attempt to discredit the Court and obstruct its work, he stressed that the more considerable the Court’s advances in justice, the greater the threats against it.  The recent cyberattack on the Court is an unacceptable attempt to interfere with its mandate.  He also welcomed the decision made by Armenia this month to ratify the Rome Statute. Each accession to the Statute increases the collective strength of the international system founded on respect for the rule of law, he pointed out, calling for the ratification of all Rome Statute amendments, including the Kampala amendments on the crime of aggression, spotlighting the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.

ZINOVIA STAVRIDI (Greece) expressed staunch support for the International Criminal Court, highlighting its pivotal role in strengthening the international criminal justice system. This is one of busiest periods for the Court with 17 situations on four different continents, she noted, commending the Court for its commitment to enhancing effectiveness and efficiency. The Court faces serious challenges, she went on to say, expressing support for its endeavours.  She also stressed the need for enhanced dialogue between the Court and the Security Council to ensure cooperation on arrest warrants.  For the Court to be able to live up to victims’ expectations, it must become truly universal, she said, adding a call to all Member States which have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute.

PETER KLANDUCH (Slovakia), associating himself the European Union, welcomed the steps undertaken by Armenia to ratify the Rome Statute and encouraged it to complete the process.  However, he expressed concern regarding the unacceptable threats towards the Court in carrying out its mandate, underlining his country’s support for the Court, its officials and staff members.  “We all must make sure that those threats will not interfere with the Court’s activities and will in no way affect the integrity, independence and impartiality — the core pillars the Court is built upon,” he emphasized.  He also called for adequate and sustainable financing for the achievement of the highest standard of cybersecurity.  Further, the election of six new judges later this year will greatly benefit the Court, he said, also urging Member States to cooperate on executing arrest warrants and welcoming the Court’s signing of a framework agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) facilitating support from the Programme’s country offices in relevant areas. 

ALINA OROSAN (Romania), aligning herself with the European Union, said the international community must constantly defend the Court from any attempt to delegitimize it and undermine its work, as well as from any measures and threats against it and its staff.  Strongly condemning the measures and threats targeting the Prosecutor and judges investigating the crimes committed in the context of the war of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, she stressed:  “Any attacks at the Court’s independence, its Prosecutor and judges are unacceptable.”  The Court’s credibility and legitimacy depend in large measure on the necessary conditions to elect the best candidates in judicial elections.  Guided by this belief, Romania has presented the candidature of Iulia Motoc, a candidate with established practical and academic experience in the fields of international criminal law and human rights law, she said.

ERDENEBAL SUREN DAMDIN (Mongolia) commended the Court’s dedication to victims, especially through the Trust Fund for Victims, which has positively impacted nearly 17,000 individuals. “However, we also recognize that consistent financial backing is essential for sustained operations,” he said, urging Member States to diversify funding mechanisms and explore collaborative partnerships to enhance the Fund.  He further stressed the need to support the Court’s initiatives to identify and seize assets linked to crimes, which are also pivotal for offering reparations to victims.  The Court must adopt active recruitment policies aimed at diversifying its staff geographically.  Such diversification not only enriches institutional culture but also enhances global legitimacy. The Court faces unprecedented challenges such as cyberattacks and resource constraints, he said, emphasizing the urgent need for sustained global support.  Further, he condemned any acts of intimidation or attacks that seek to undermine cooperation with the Court or compromise its independence and impartiality. 

MA XINMIN (China) said the complex and volatile international situation has meant more cases for the International Criminal Court.  In such circumstances, it is even more important that the Court maintains its neutrality, he said, adding that in 2021, the Court authorized the Office of the Prosecutor to investigate on the situation in the State of Palestine, an ongoing mandate that applies to crimes committed in the current context.  Expressing expectations that the Court will avoid politicization and double standards, he also said that how the Court deals with the issue of the immunity of State officials has been controversial for years.  Incumbent Heads of State enjoy personal inviolability and absolute immunity, he said, adding that it does not bar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction.  Highlighting the important role of the international justice institutions, he voiced hope that on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statue the Court will reflect on its own role.

JAMES WAWERU (Kenya) associating himself with the statement to be made by the African States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, said the Court should be a useful tool for working towards justice and accountability for the most serious crimes.  Hence his country, together with other States Parties, consider it necessary to inject more effort in improving the Court and ensuring its independence and impartiality. “This can be accomplished by ensuring that the Court is structurally and operationally firm, starting with maintaining the Court as one of last resort as it was intended,” he stressed. Calling for the national capacity-building of States in order to offer the dependable first recourse for accountability for the most serious crimes, he underscored the importance of equitable geographical representation in all organs and subsidiaries of the Court.  He further called for a reorganization of the Court’s priorities and an implementation of cost-cutting measures to keep it within its mandate.

SEYED ALI MOUSAVI (Iran) said that the grave violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied territories of Palestine were outlined in the Assembly’s resolution of 27 October.  These criminal actions constitute the most serious international crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction.  He expected the Court to expedite its activities on the situation in Palestine, into which investigations have begun under the Rome Statute on crimes committed since 13 June 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  He strongly requested that the Prosecutor facilitate the investigation into the situation of Palestine.  Regarding judicial proceedings and investigations concerning crimes committed in Afghanistan, he said that the Prosecutor’s Office should comprehensively consider its previous findings.  It is highly expected that those military forces which committed war crimes in Afghanistan should be held accountable and face punishment, he added.

REIN TAMMSAAR (Estonia), also speaking for Latvia and Lithuania, said that the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine is an attack on the rules-based international order, with the aggressor committing several heinous crimes.  He welcomed the Court’s swift issuance of arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova for the alleged unlawful deportation and transfer of civilians from occupied areas to the Russian Federation, adding:  “We urge the ICC to continue its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice since deportation of children is only one of many crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.”  Estonia strongly condemns the recent cyberattacks against the Court and the restrictive measures announced by the Russian Federation against the Prosecutor, the President and several judges of the Court, he continued.  These measures constitute an attempt to obstruct the Court’s investigations, and they are a direct attack against the independence of the Court. 

Regarding the 16 issued arrest warrants against individuals who have breached the Rome Statute, he called on all States to cooperate and surrender those persons to the Court.  In the Eastern European region, three arrest warrants in relation to crimes allegedly perpetrated during the 2008 armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia are awaiting implementation.  “We repeat our call to the Security Council to refrain from using the right of veto in cases of mass atrocities and use its right of referral to the ICC of situations where one or more crimes, including the crime of aggression, appear to have been committed,” he said, adding that Estonia welcomes the steps taken to strengthen the Trust Fund and its fundraising capacity and efficiency.

ELINA KALKKU (Finland), also speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said that the 120 States parties to the Rome Statue represent almost two-thirds of the United Nations’ entire membership. She warmly welcomed Armenia’s decision to ratify the Statute and urged all States to do likewise as a matter of urgency.  The United Nations and the International Criminal Court are integral parts of the rules-based international order, she said, highlighting the Security Council’s special powers to refer situations to the Court.  She went on to encourage the Council to use its powers more often and for its Members to refrain from using their veto in situations where there are clear and credible indications of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or aggression.

She reiterated a call to Member States to enable the United Nations to share the financial burden of situations referred to the Court by the Council.  The Court is independent and impartial and is to act without fear or favour, she said, condemning in the strongest possible terms criminal proceedings initiated by the Russian Federation against the Prosecutor, President and other judges of the Court.  She also strongly condemned the recent unprecedented cyberattacks against the Court. Any threats or attacks are unacceptable, she said, adding that the independence of judicial institutions is a fundamental component of the rule of law and must be always safeguarded.  The Court is a court of last resort which complements, but does not replace, national judicial systems, she continued, encouraging all States, whether they are party to the Rome Statute or not, to cooperate with it.

DUNKAN LAKI MUHUMUZA (Uganda) speaking for the African States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, said that the majority of the 31 cases opened by the Court are from countries affected by armed conflicts, a situation which underscores the continued relevance of the Court in the search for international peace and justice.  Therefore, its work as an independent and impartial judicial institution is of great importance, he said, reaffirming the group’s support and commitment to combating impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.  He also stressed the importance of ensuring that justice is applied equally in all situations under consideration by the Court, including in the allocation of resources across all cases, and encouraged all States parties, when allocating resources to the Court, to ensure that the core activities under the Rome Statute rest with States. 

All who commit atrocity crimes anywhere in the world must be held accountable, he continued.  He further expressed commitment to the universality of the Rome Statute, adding that increasing the number of States Parties will ensure access to justice for victims from all geographical regions of the world.  He therefore called on all States that have not yet ratified the Rome Statute to do so.  “Universal ratification of the Rome Statute and the incorporation of these norms into the domestic law of States must be a reality if all victims around the world are to have a chance to obtain justice,” he stressed.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said her delegation will continue to be a strategic partner of the Court and the international criminal justice system.  It is vital that the Court continues, without fear, to exert its functions so the fight against impunity of important crimes does not fall to inconsistency, selectivity or optional criteria of convenience.  “International law is universal and must be applied as such,” she said, also spotlighting efforts to use new mechanisms and strategies to efficiently manage the Court’s increased activities.  She voiced hope that the confirmation of the conviction in the Ongwen case, and the beginning of the reparations phase for victims, will show perpetrators of atrocity crimes that the international criminal justice system is doing its job.  The Council’s referrals regarding the situation in Darfur and Libya demonstrates the fundamental role that the United Nations can, and should, play in the fight against impunity, she said, urging Security Council members to demonstrate their commitment to international justice. 

LUCIA TERESA SOLANO RAMIREZ (Colombia) said this year has presented enormous challenges for the International Criminal Court “related to the international circumstances that we’re all aware of”.  Still, the Court has been able to rise to the challenge and its importance and relevance are clearer than ever before.  It has also been a particularly special year for Colombia, she said, noting that the Court’s Prosecutor announced his decision to close the preliminary examination the Office opened 17 years ago to study the situation in Colombia.  Just a few months ago, a team from the Office of the Prosecutor visited Bogota as part of a series of meetings and discussions held between the Office and Colombian authorities over the last year.  Major progress has been made by Colombian institutions in their pursuit of justice in collaboration with national partners, she said, underlining that Colombia has entered a “new phase” of cooperation with the Court that can be seen as the right path to be followed by other countries in difficult situations. Colombia’s legal institutions are ready and able to administer justice for the most relevant crimes, she said. 

CARLA MARÍA RODRIGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) said that this is a special year for the International Criminal Court with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute.  She reaffirmed staunch support for the Court which plays a vital role in the international system.  She also welcomed the United Nations’ cooperation with, and support of the Court, which represents an opportunity to shore up its authority.  Renewing her appeal to respect the principle of complementarity and to strengthen national systems, she added that the Court does not replace national courts.  In that regard, it is important to improve cooperation between the Court and the Security Council and have regular exchanges between the two entities.  Crimes against humanity are intolerable, she said, adding that the steadfast support of States parties is crucial to deliver justice. 

VÍCTOR GARCÍA TOMA (Peru) underscored the imperative of States parties reaffirming their commitment to the Rome Statute and to the work of the International Criminal Court as the first and only permanent international criminal court in the world, and called on Member States to strengthen the international criminal justice system and provide the Court with the necessary resources and support.  This is particularly urgent, given current conflicts and humanitarian emergencies.  He highlighted the importance of the relationship between the Court and the Security Council, particularly regarding the need to maintain a flexible communication and cooperation arrangement.  On the Trust Fund for Victims, he said these resources make it possible for special attention to be paid to protecting and safeguarding victims’ rights through essential programs, medical treatments, psychological rehabilitation, socioeconomic support and education.  “These programmes not only seek to alleviate the immediate suffering of the victims, but also aim at peacebuilding and the reconstruction of affected communities,” he stressed. 

DIARRA DIME-LABILLE (France) aligning herself with the European Union, stressed the importance of multilingualism and the balance of legal traditions, which help guarantee the Court’s legitimacy and effectiveness.  The Court’s staff and working methods must continue to reflect these values and diversity in all situations, including investigations, pre-trial proceedings, trials, appeals and reparations.  The cooperation, assistance and support of States, whether they are parties to the Rome Statute or not, as well as that of the United Nations, are essential for the Court’s success.  She recalled that the enforcement of sentences handed down by the Court is also an essential element of a fully operational criminal justice system.  Cooperation with the Court also implies providing adequate financing, she continued, calling on all States parties to the Rome Statute to fulfil, without delay, their obligations regarding contributions to the Court’s regular budget.  This year, France contributed more than 300,000 euros in voluntary contributions, including 150,000 euros to the Trust Fund for Victims, she noted.

PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) said that there are outstanding arrest warrants for which the Court calls on States parties and other entities to provide cooperation and assistance.  Cooperation between the Court and the Security Council is vital.  There is an intrinsic link between the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court and international peace and security.  As the Council’s primary responsibility is to ensure international peace and security, it is reasonable that the Statute attributes functions to it, she added.  Chile is striving to update its own commitment to the Rome Statute and to promote the expansion and strengthening of its jurisdiction.  Chile’s National Congress is currently analysing two bills, namely one seeking to incorporate the crime of aggression into its legal system and to extend war crimes to non-international conflicts, and a second that facilitates the cooperation that Chile must provide at the Court, she said.

MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh) said his country was steadfast in its support of the International Criminal Court as an independent court of law.  “The ICC not only promotes the rule of law — it serves as a symbol of hope,” he said, adding that this hope is perhaps the most urgent remedy the international community can offer civilians in Gaza who have been going through dreadful atrocities, including during the ongoing brutal military operations by Israel. He welcomed the announcement by the Court’s Prosecutor to prioritize the investigation in the situation of Palestine and called on all parties to cooperate with the Court.  This decades-long dehumanization of the Palestinians must end, and the perpetrators must be held accountable, he said.  He also highlighted the ongoing investigation of the forced deportation of Rohingya minorities from Myanmar to Bangladesh, adding that his country was pleased to provide full cooperation with the Court.

PABLO AGUSTÍN ESCOBAR ULLAURI (Ecuador) voiced his rejection of acts of intimidation and attempts to undermine the mandate of the Court and expressed concern about the recent cyberattacks to which it has been subjected.  He commended immediate actions taken to mitigate these effects, assess the impact of the damage caused and adopt recovery and reconstruction measures.  He further expressed his hope that preparations for the twenty-second Assembly of States Parties provide States with an opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing the Court.  In addition, he called for the United Nations to contribute to bearing the costs of referrals made by the Security Council to the Court so as not to jeopardize its financial sustainability.  Highlighting the need to universalize the Rome Statute and adopt legislation to implement the provisions of the Statute in States’ national systems, he called for support for initiatives aimed at underpinning the Court’s independence and efficiency, such as ensuring its funding and optimizing the processes for appointing judges.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), underscoring his rejection of any attacks against the Court, said:  “The ICC is indeed the world’s only permanent international criminal court.”  Welcoming Armenia as the 124th State Party, he expressed hope that more States can join in the future.  He also commended the Chief Prosecutor’s strategic decisions, expressing hope that he continues to take into account the Security Council’s paralysis, as well as the State’s unwillingness or inability to prosecute Rome Statute crimes, when deciding where to focus his investigations and allocate his resources. The Annual Assembly of the States Parties to the Court, which will take place in New York in December, is a place for key decisions to increase support for the Court’s needs.  Noting that today the world is a different place than “we may have hoped for in 1998”, he stressed that aggression is not a “hypothetical crime”.  He observed that the illegal use of force is one of the most fundamental attacks on the international order and a source of many crimes committed in international conflicts.

KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland), aligning with the European Union, recalled that in 2022 his country witnessed the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.  In light of that, the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrants for President Vladimir V. Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova are a “landmark step”, he said.  Further, the recent cyberattacks on the Court’s computer network and Moscow’s criminal proceedings against the Court’s President, its Vice-President, the Prosecutor and Judges is unacceptable.  Expressing support for equating the crime of aggression with other international crimes and allowing the Court to exercise its jurisdiction in this respect without special restrictions, he emphasized that it is a duty of the State parties to encourage more States to ratify the Rome Statute.  Welcoming Armenia’s accession, he called on States to ensure universal jurisdiction over the “most heinous crimes”.  He added:  “It is up to us ‑ the State Parties ‑ to set an example for the international community and give proof that the system is needed.”

ADAM KUYMIZAKIS (Malta), aligning herself with the European Union, welcomed the resumption of the Prosecutor’s investigation into the situations in Afghanistan, Venezuela and the Philippines and the conclusion of the investigation on the cases relating to Georgia and the Central African Republic. Also welcoming the Court’s cooperation with the UN, she encouraged the Organization’s operational assistance in the field.  She also noted that the relationship between the Court and the Security Council needs improvement, recalling that the Rome Statute encouraged the Council to refer situations to the Court.  However, only two situations ‑ Darfur and Libya ‑ have been referred to date.  She also spotlighted the Court’s adoption of the Policy on Gender Persecution, further commending the fact that victims’ reparations continue to gain prominence in the Court’s work.  In this regard, she called attention to Malta’s contribution to the Trust Fund for Victims for the third consecutive year, adding: “Impunity sows the seeds of further violence.  We cannot ignore this reality.”

MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) declared:  “The Court is the hope of thousands of victims around the world seeking justice.”  It helps guarantee that no one is above the law, regardless of the official position or power held by the perpetrator of atrocity crimes.  In a challenging time for multilateralism, the Court has had to face multiple internal and external challenges.  That is why States parties initiated a review process, now in its final phase.  This exercise has enabled the entire Court system to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of its functioning, identify those aspects that require improvement and seek remedies.  The Court’s independence and its ability to carry out its mandate are often threatened by external pressures, she noted, underscoring that the States parties cannot allow such situations to prevail.  The Court must be given all necessary support to uphold its integrity and independence, she stressed.

JOSÉ EDUARDO PEREIRA SOSA (Paraguay) said that the significant volume of work reflected in the report — the participation of more than 15,000 victims in cases before the Court and the handing down of a significant number of decisions — speak to the relevance of the Court’s work and its mission of prosecuting and judging the most serious crimes.  The work of the Trust Fund has benefited 17,000 people.  As a Court of last resort and of complementary nature to national jurisdictions, the Court and the Rome Statute are critical in investigating and prosecuting offenders of the most serious crimes that impact the international community.  For Paraguay, the International Criminal Court is a major achievement of the international community and its fight against impunity and most atrocious crimes, he said.

Ms. KAFKOVA (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union, congratulated Armenia on its decision to become the 124th State party to the Rome Statute.  She also condemned threats and attacks against the Court, its officials, staff and those cooperating with it.  The independence of the Court to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community is a fundamental principle that needs to be defended.  The relationship between the Security Council and the Court is complex, she noted, suggesting that refraining from the use of veto in situations where crimes under international law are being committed would enhance the relationship.  She also acknowledged the work of the Trust Fund for Victims, which is another way the Court fulfils its mandate.

CHOI TAEEUN (Republic of Korea) underscored the urgent need to improve the perception of the Rome Statute system, highlighting concerns on the Court’s bias towards values of a particular group — a situation attributable to inequitable geographical distribution in composition of State parties.  The Asia-Pacific countries are one of the most under-represented regional groups, and several countries are seriously under-represented in the professional staff of the Court, with the number of Korean staff currently at zero, despite being the seventh largest donor.  This situation has effects on the diversity of perspectives and working culture of the Court, perception challenges on its independence and impartiality as well as its universality and ongoing cooperation with the international community.  He said he hoped his country’s candidate for judge at the Court will contribute to its legitimacy and efficiency.

KARL LAGATIE (Belgium) said no region of the world is spared from armed conflict, which frequently affects civilian populations.  The international community must join forces to ensure these people do not lose faith in the justice system.  Perpetrators of the most serious crimes must be held criminally accountable, and States must play an active role in the fight against impunity.  They must prosecute and try the perpetrators of these crimes within their national jurisdictions, thus fully ensuring the complementary nature of the Court’s intervention.  Belgium is one of the driving forces for and the depositary of the Ljubljana-The Hague Convention, a new convention that aims to strengthen inter-State cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of the most serious crimes.  Its signing ceremony will take place in The Hague on 14 and 15 February 2024.  He also urged States to make timely payments of their compulsory contributions to the Court’s annual budget.

JUSTIN FEPULEAI (New Zealand) said that cooperation, assistance and support of States remain essential to the Court’s operations and fulfilment of its independent and impartial mandate.  States parties and others must provide the necessary cooperation to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes. New Zealand’s focus has been on ensuring the Court is sufficiently resourced to enable it to continue undertaking its investigations and prosecutions independently.  This is particularly important at a time when the Court faces several direct threats.  It is unacceptable that arrest warrants have been issued for elected officials and personnel of the Court.  It is also unacceptable for actors to compromise the security of the information systems of the Court.  Furthermore, the Court complements, rather than replaces, national courts as an independent court of last resort.  Domestic courts and judicial processes which secure accountability for the perpetrators of international crimes are crucial to implementing the principle of complementarity, he stressed.

ALESSANDRO DE REZENDE PINTO (Brazil), emphasizing that granting reparation to victims is an encouraging development, said that the Trust Fund for Victims is instrumental to promoting victims’ rights to justice.  It is encouraging to see reports about ongoing projects and engagement with victims, their families and affected communities, he said.  However, the Court faces several challenges.  It is important to address double standards and ensure that all victims of the most serious crimes under international law shall be treated equally.  Cooperation is another challenge, he observed, encouraging judges of the Court to engage in constructive dialogue with other international tribunals. Finally, there is a need to adjust the geographical imbalance in the institutional structure of the Court.  The African Group and the Latin American and Caribbean States represent the largest regional groups among States parties but are underrepresented in the Bureau of the Assembly.  This governance must be reformed to make it representative and inclusive, he said.

ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) highlighted the conviction and sentencing of Dominic Ongwen on crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the north of Uganda as one of the most significant developments in the report.  She noted the 16 unfulfilled arrest warrants and called upon States to cooperate with the Court and close the gaps of impunity.  She also voiced concern about the measures taken against officers of the Court, specifically against the Prosecutor and judges, as “any act of intimidation against an officer of the court is simply unacceptable”. She called on Members to respect the judicial system and stand united against impunity and to ratify the Rome Statute’s amendments and make progress towards its universality.  She also welcomed Armenia’s decision to accede to the Court and voiced her rejection of the use of vetoes in the Security Council, which prevent remissions to the Court.

CALVIN SMYRE (United States) welcomed the conclusion of the Dominic Ongwen appeal, which provided justice for the first time for the victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army, as well as to the end of trial proceedings in the Al Hassan case, concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Timbuktu, Mali.  The Court has also made meaningful progress in the first trial of a situation referred by the Council, in the case against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a former Janjaweed commander also known as Ali Kushayb.  He noted that his delegation is tracking significant developments regarding Ukraine, where the Court issued arrest warrants against President Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova for the alleged war crimes of unlawful deportation of population and the unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.  Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, there is much that it can do, and has done, to advance the Court’s work.  This includes practical cooperation to support the Court’s activities across a range of situations and actively exploring additional ways to support victims and witnesses, he said.

MICHAEL HASENAU (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said that the Court remains the major pillar in the fight against impunity.  The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine was the situation that prompted the European Union to evaluate “how far we have come on the criminalization of aggression”.  A gap in the Rome Statute needs to be closed. That “accountability gap” presents itself when a crime of aggression is committed by a non-State party against a State party.  The Court is so important for the international community, especially in these days, he emphasized.  Twenty-five years ago, the International Criminal Court came into being, but today the world is in turmoil.  “It is our task to make this Court stronger,” he emphasized. 

JAMES KIRK (Ireland), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the increased importance of the International Criminal Court is evidenced by its increased caseload. Since 2021, the Prosecutor has opened or resumed investigations in four situations — Palestine, the Philippines, Venezuela and Ukraine.  The work continues, he said, commending the Court for its efforts.  However, many States and powerful individuals feel threated by the Court and, with the uptick in work, there has been a corresponding growth in threats to the Court and its staff.  In that regard, he expressed extreme concern over the cyberattack against the Court and the Russian Federation’s criminal proceedings against the Court’s Prosecutor and judges, which he called an affront to the rule of law. He also encouraged the Security Council to take a more consistent approach to referrals to the Court, adding his belief that the Council’s use of veto needs to be reformed.

MYKOLA PRYTULA (Ukraine) associating himself with the European Union, pointed out that the Russian Federation has been committing crimes in his country since 2014.  Unfortunately, there has not been enough international response and no one has been brought to personal criminal liability.  The inability of Russians to be brought to account is one of the reasons for the current bloody aggression in Ukraine.  To that end, his country has been cooperating with the Court to ensure accountability, he reported, adding that the Court’s issuance of warrants of arrest on the President of the Russian Federation and the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights clearly signifies no one is untouchable and that everyone must stand trial for their actions.  He also noted that those arrest warrants will play a preventive role as well.  He commended the constructive and innovative cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor within the Joint Investigation Team, as well as its valuable support to the work of the International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, adding that “introducing the best practices of investigation of core international crimes and digitalization of the investigations facilitate the accountability processes for the crimes committed in Ukraine”.  He called for support for the Court and condemned all attempts to undermine its work.

OUMAROU GANOU (Burkina Faso) said this meeting is taking place as renewed conflicts surface around the world and innocent people are victims of massacres, atrocities and violations of their most basic rights. In Burkina Faso, the abuses committed by violent extremist terrorist groups for nearly a decade have systematically violated people’s fundamental rights.  National jurisdictions have the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting such crimes.  Since its accession to the Rome Statute in 2004, Burkina Faso has taken legal steps to incorporate the Statute into its laws, including one that determines the jurisdiction and procedure for the implementation of the Rome Statute by Burkinabe courts.  They also provide a framework for the prosecution and punishment of international crimes and organize judicial cooperation.  Through its Criminal Code and its Code of Criminal Procedure, adopted in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Burkina Faso has given its courts the power to try crimes that fall within the material jurisdiction of the Court, he said. 

BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, said it is essential to remember that the States and national courts bear the primary responsibility for prosecuting perpetrators of atrocity crimes with the International Criminal Court serving to complement national proceedings.  There is room for a more active role of the Security Council for an increased use of accountability tools, such as referrals to the Court and follow-ups on cases of non-cooperation.  An essential characteristic of any Court that it operates independently and impartially. Accountability should and must be established with the Court in accordance with laws and regulations free from interference or political pressure.  “We condemn such acts and any interference in judicial proceedings,” he said, also adding:  “We stand by the ICC and its mission to contribute to the rule of law and anti-impunity for atrocity crimes.”

FUMIE TOKUNAGA (Japan) said the international community’s expectations for the International Criminal Court are quite high.  She called on States who have not yet become parties to the Rome Statute to do so and congratulated Armenia on its recent ratification.  She went on to express support for Ukraine’s efforts to ratify the Statute.  Universality will benefit the Court and the upholding of the rule of law.  Reiterating her delegation’s commitment to preserve the integrity of the Court, she said that her country is undeterred by any threats or measures against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it.  Further, Japan renews its resolve to stand united against impunity, she said.  She reaffirmed unwavering commitment to the Court, saying Japan takes pride in having consistently supported the Court’s activities as the largest financial contributor and the only country in Asia to have referred the situation in Ukraine to the Court. 

MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) said that his country has always been at the forefront of the development of the international criminal justice system, adding that the Court is a “bulwark against impunity” for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes.  The initiatives to commemorate the adoption of the Rome Statute and the event held in New York in July ‑ co-organized by Italy ‑ have reaffirmed his country’s commitment to that end, he noted.  Expressing concern over the threats and the criminal proceedings initiated by one Member State against the Prosecutor and some judges of the Court, he also highlighted the recent cyberattacks that disrupted its functionality.  Further, he noted that his country is following the ongoing reform process, which is an opportunity to enhance the Court’s delivery of justice.  Pointing out that 17,000 victims participated in cases before the Court over the reporting period, he welcomed the reparations being made for the victims. For this reason, Italy will continue contributing to the Trust Fund for Victims, he added.

SILVA WALKER (Cuba) said the International Criminal Court is far from independent, given the enormous powers granted by the Security Council through relevant articles in relation to its work, a scenario which not only reflects the progressive erosion of its essence, but violates the principle of the independence of the judiciary and impartiality in the administration of justice. She called for the establishment of an international criminal jurisdiction that is effective, impartial, non-selective, fair and complementary to national justice systems, exempt from subordination to unfriendly political interests.  She also expressed her concern regarding the precedent created by the Court’s decisions to initiate judicial proceedings against nationals of States not party to the Rome Statute.  Condemning the killing of civilians and indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza population and infrastructure, she declared:  “It is time to put an end to double standards, selectivity and political manipulation that jeopardize international peace and security.”

THEODOULOS PITTAKIS (Cyprus), aligning himself with the European Union, noted the Court’s high level of activity in all areas during the reporting period.  He also recognized the benefits that the Trust Fund has brought to thousands of victims, adding that his country supports the Trust Fund financially; other State parties should do the same.  A strong supporter of the Court system, along with other State Parties, his country strives to consolidate it as an independent and impartial judicial institution of the highest quality.  He welcomed the review process, which will enhance the Court’s performance and effectiveness.  Urging all countries to ratify the Rome Statue, he welcomed Armenia’s ratification of the Statute earlier this month.  He also urged all State parties to extend the geographical scope of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  He supported the Council’s ability to refer situations to the Court as a powerful tool to interrupt the conflict cycle and sustain peace.

CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), associating himself with the African States Parties to the Rome Statute, said that the world is facing numerous challenges. Affirming his country’s commitment to combating impunity for the most serious crimes, he underlined that the International Criminal Court today is a central institution and the very cornerstone of the international criminal justice system.  He called on the Security Council to fully play its role in preventing serious crimes to maintain international peace and security.  Therefore, there is a real need to further strengthen cooperation between the Security Council and the International Criminal Court.  The principle of complementarity is the very backbone of the Rome Statute, he stressed, and he called for the strengthening of national judicial systems that are able to try crimes that strike the conscience of the international community. 

RICCARDA CHRISTIANA CHANDA (Switzerland) said that if the International Criminal Court is to carry out its mandate effectively, the Court must be strong, independent and impartial.  Raising three points, she first condemned the threats and measures taken against Court officials and the recent cyberattack and called for the full support of States when the Court is subject to significant pressure.  Secondly, she called on all States to respect their cooperation obligations under the Rome Statute by complying with requests for mutual assistance and arrest warrants ordered by the Court.  She, lastly, called on all States that have not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute.  The Court is an essential instrument to combat impunity for atrocities, bring justice to victims and contribute to lasting peace.  “The Court is a beacon of hope,” she said, adding:  “We can all play a part in realizing this hope for the benefit of all the victims.”

DAVID ABESADZE (Georgia) underscored the significance of the upcoming election of six judges of the Court, adding that it is pivotal that the incoming judges have all the necessary expertise, institutional knowledge and dedication towards a reinvigorated fight against impunity.  He noted that his country’s cooperation with the International Criminal Court has yielded concrete and tangible results, pointing out that it was among the States which referred the situation in Ukraine to the Court’s Prosecutor.  He also recalled the landmark judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the Russian Federation’s occupation and control over his country’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and the Russian Federation’s heinous crimes against civilians and military personnel committed during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war and ongoing occupation.  Emphasizing that “the international community has a shared responsibility to maintain justice and to prevent impunity”, he reiterated his support for the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute.

DEVITA ABRAHAM (Trinidad and Tobago) said her delegation is pleased by the adoption of the International Criminal Court’s Strategic Plan and the Office of the Prosecutor Strategic Plan for the period 2023 to 2025, which aim to enhance the Court’s functionality and promote greater synergies.  The Court’s plan and ongoing efforts to achieve equitable geographical representation and gender balance, through refined policies and recruitment processes, are also welcomed initiatives.  They can only serve to strengthen the Court’s mechanisms.  In addition, she applauded the Court for the progressive, forward-looking launch of a comprehensive Court-wide Strategy on Gender Equality and Workplace Culture in December 2022.  She acknowledged that the Trust Fund for Victims performs an indispensable and critical role in helping victims return to a dignified life and enjoy a sustainable livelihood within their communities.  During the reporting period, the Trust Fund implemented court-ordered reparations to victims in four cases and conducted other projects in several countries, benefitting close to 17,000 victims.

JAMES LARSEN (Australia) said the recent cyberattack against the Court is yet a further example of the threats it is facing.  Because the Court’s work is complementary to national efforts, he pointed out that Australia has demonstrated that it is committed to practicing what it preaches in taking national action.  At the heart of all efforts in pursuit of truth, justice and accountability stand the victims and survivors.  This is reflected in the more than 15,000 victims that participated in cases before the Court in the past year.  It is reflected in the nearly 17,000 individuals that have directly benefited from Court-ordered reparations.  “We commend the Trust Fund for Victims for its important work,” he said, also commending the work of the Court over the past year, particularly at a time of increased workload and attempts to interfere with its operations and staff.  He also encouraged the Security Council to do more to support the Court’s implementation of mandates derived from Security Council referrals. 

ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines) expressed his regret regarding the decision of the Appeals Chamber which upheld the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision on the resumption of the investigation of the situation in his country by the Prosecutor.  Long after the Philippines ceased to be a State party to the Rome Statute, his Government chose to submit data to the Office of the Prosecutor and later, to the Pre-Trial Chamber, not out of any legal obligation but purely on the basis of comity, consonant with its assertion of sovereignty.  Notwithstanding his Government’s withdrawal from the Statute, which was due to a principled stand against those who politicize human rights, the Philippines remains committed to fighting against impunity, he said.  “We have national legislation punishing such crimes.  We have a functioning criminal justice system that is able and willing to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in the war on drugs”, he noted, expressing his Government’s commitment to the principles of human rights, justice and accountability.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) said he firmly believes that with the introduction of innovative tools and strategies, the Court has actively strived to adeptly address its substantial workload.  The report notes that the Court has updated its investigative activities regarding the case related to the Situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar.  Expressing his appreciation to the Court for its ongoing commitment to this case, he recalled that on 17 July 2021, Myanmar submitted a declaration to the Registrar of the Court, acknowledging the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed in its territory since 1 July 2002.  Through this declaration, the people of Myanmar have high hopes that the Court will open a preliminary examination or expand the scope of its current investigation.  The people of Myanmar urgently need meaningful international accountability for the ongoing serious international crimes committed by the military junta, he stressed, adding: “The hope of the people of Myanmar should be met with timely and effective actions of the Court.”

ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the African States Parties to the Rome Statute, said his country actively supports the Court through its involvement in investigations, prosecutions and the protection of victims and witnesses.  Furthermore, Mali facilitates the execution of sentences for those convicted by the Court within its prisons.  Of particular note is the invaluable role played by the Trust Fund, which has provided individual reparations to 1,500 victims who endured suffering in Timbuktu. This assistance is a testament to the Fund’s remarkable efforts in restoring justice.  He commended the productive collaboration between the Trust Fund and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  In 2002, this partnership facilitated the restoration of Timbuktu’s cultural heritage and addressed the moral harm caused by the destruction of invaluable assets. Additionally, it established a socioeconomic centre to mitigate the impact of this cultural loss on the community, he said. 

ZENON NGAY MUKONGO (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the majority of cases before the Court concerning his country have entered their enforcement phase and are now aimed towards reparations for victims.  However, he called attention to the armed aggression by the Rwandan armed forces and the terrorist group M23 [March 23 Movement], which “are sowing death and desolation in the Congolese province of North Kivu, trampling on the peace initiatives decided by the leaders of the Region in the framework of the Luanda and Nairobi peace processes”.  He requested the Office of the Prosecutor to urgently initiate a new investigation to address this.  He welcomed the new investigations initiated by the Office of the Prosecutor in other parts of the world and called for it to redouble its efforts to bring these new proceedings to a successful conclusion to avoid criticism of the Court’s selectivity and politicization of its activities.  His Government is committed to making necessary reforms to avoid the recurrence of crimes and human rights violations, he added.

ROBERT RAE (Canada) said this meeting is taking place as the international community marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rome Statute, which underpins the international rules-based order.  Thus, it is unfortunate that the Court is now subject to persistent threats, including ongoing breaches of its cybersecurity. He called on all States, whether signatories to the Rome Statute or not, to respect the independence of the Court and bring perpetrators of the most serious crimes to justice.  This year, because the Court’s activities have continued to expand, it is necessary to ensure it has the resources it needs to get the job done. In addition, his delegation is pleased with the Court’s Strategic Plan for the period 2023 to 2025, which will allow for greater synergies, he said, also commending the Court’s new work on gender equality.  Regarding the situation in Ukraine, he welcomed the Court’s decision to issue arrest warrants for President Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova for alleged war crimes.

JONATHAN SAMUEL HOLLIS (United Kingdom) said that he was pleased that the Court has shown resilience in the face of the cyberattack and Moscow’s attempted intimidation of its principals and officials. Commending the efforts of the Trust Fund for Victims to realize reparations, he said that the number of victims participating in the proceedings has been “impressive”.  He underlined that ensuring accountability is fundamental to his country’s foreign policy, spotlighting the Court’s crucial role in pursuing that aim.  He also added his support for the Prosecutor’s wish to form partnerships with national authorities in line with the principle of complementarity.  The United Kingdom has supported the Court’s reforms to enable it to address challenges more effectively, he emphasized, adding that since its establishment, the Court has been instrumental in the global pursuit of justice.

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