While the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent organization, its relationship and cooperation with the United Nations have continued to be as vital as ever, the President of the tribunal told the General Assembly today.
“Indeed, the preamble of the Rome Statute [the 1998 treaty that established the ICC] sets out the court’s objectives several of which overlap with the purposes of the UN,” Judge Sang-Hyun Song said as he briefed Member States on the main developments at the court over the past year.
He said the common objectives of the two institutions include the prevention and punishment of serious international crimes, the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security, and guaranteeing lasting respect for and enforcement of international law.
“The ICC is deeply grateful for the invaluable cooperation we continue to receive from the United Nations in a wide variety of areas, ranging from security and field operations to the exchange of information and testimony of UN officials,” said Judge Song.
The ICC, which is based in The Hague, is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
It can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.
The number of situations under ICC investigation grew from five to seven this year with the addition of Libya and Côte d’Ivoire to the already existing probes in Central African Republic (CAR), the Darfur region of western Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and Kenya.
In addition to the seven investigations, the Office of the Prosecutor is conducting preliminary examinations regarding Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Nigeria, Palestine and the Republic of Korea, as well as receiving information concerning many other countries.
The court’s first trial concluded in August with closing statements in the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, charged with the use of child soldiers in the DRC. A judgment is expected before the end of this year.
Judge Song noted that a number of arrest warrants remain outstanding for individuals sought by the court. “This is deeply distressing for the victims as well as the international community, and I implore States to redouble their efforts to bring the persons in question to justice,” he stated.
He also highlighted the fact that international support for the ICC has continued to grow, with five new States having joined the Rome Statute during the past year, bringing the number of States parties to 119.
“I appeal to all UN Member States to stand united behind the international efforts to suppress the gravest crimes known to humanity,” said Judge Song. “The Rome Statute is based on common values of fundamental importance – peace, security and the well-being of the children, men and women of the world.
“By joining this community, each State adds a brick to a wall that protects future generations from terrible atrocities.”