Ban Ki-moon urges greater cooperation with International Criminal Court

3 December 2007

The long-term success of the International Criminal Court (ICC) depends on greater cooperation from the world’s countries, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on States to maintain their funding and public advocacy for the tribunal.

Mr. Ban told the sixth Assembly of States Parties, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, that the Court has quickly “established itself as the centrepiece of our system of international criminal justice” in the five years since the Rome Statute creating the ICC entered into force.

“It both embodies and drives a profound evolution in international culture and law. It serves notice to any would-be [Slobodan] Milosevic or Charles Taylor that their actions today may lead to international prosecution tomorrow,” he said, referring to the former Yugoslav and Liberian leaders accused of committing war crimes.

But the Secretary-General stressed that the Court’s ongoing success, and even ability to function, will rely closely on the support of States Parties and from the UN, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups.

He called for “cooperation that results in financial support and political backing, and which flows from expressions of support in public, as well as behind closed doors” for both the Court and for its Trust Fund for Victims.

Mr. Ban pledged the continuing support of the UN towards the ICC – which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands – and its Prosecutor and urged individual countries to play their part in enforcing warrants and arresting indicted individuals.

Turning to the four situations that ICC prosecutors are investigating – the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Darfur region of Sudan, northern Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAR) – Mr. Ban said that, in Darfur, “unspeakable crimes on a massive scale are still being committed.”

He also noted that some of the situations being probed remain unstable, with a lasting peace not yet having taken hold and questions raised about the balance between obtaining peace and finding a measure of justice regarding those who have committed war crimes.

“There are no easy answers to this morally and legally charged balancing act. However, the overarching principle is clear: there can be no sustainable peace without justice. Peace and justice, accountability and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive. To the contrary, they go hand in hand.”