Security Council Arria Formula Meeting: UNSC - ICC Relations: achievements, challenges and synergies

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 6 July 2018

On behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Prosecutor, Madam Fatou Bensouda, Stephen Mathias, ambassador Konfourou, Special Prosecutor Mukimapa, and President Kwon for their informative briefings.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a proud host and will remain a firm supporter of the International Criminal Court.

20 years ago, the Rome Statute entered into force and established the world’s first permanent international criminal court.

The ICC is the realization of the conviction that those responsible for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, must face justice.

In my statement I will highlight three points.

  • Prevention
  • Accountability
  • Assuming responsibility

1. Prevention

My first point: prevention. In the past 20 years we have seen the deterrent effect  of the Rome Statute. The Court has demonstrated that anyone, regardless of position or status can be subjected to the watchfull eye of the Court.

No one is above the law.

Preventing conflict and protecting populations at risk of mass atrocities are goals of both the ICC and the Security Council. The prevention of such crimes and insistence on international accountability contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.

2. Accountability

That brings me to my second point: accountability. No sustainable peace can be built on impunity.

The primary responsibility for prosecuting crimes lies with States. The ICC is a Court of last resort, called upon only where States are unable or unwilling to do so.

Unfortunately, not all Member States are States Parties to the Rome Statute. In these situations, it becomes the responsibility of this Council to provide accountability.

And the Council has done so in the past. The horrific crimes committed in Darfur and Libya lead the Council to referring those situations to the ICC. With that action, the message that the Council sent was clear: justice will be delivered, and perpetrators will be held to account. But, a referral by the Security Council does not relieve the Council of its responsibility.

3. Responsibility

This brings me to my third point: assuming responsibility. When large-scale violations of international law take place, it is the responsibility of this Council to use all the tools at its disposal. Including referring situations to the ICC. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Council to follow up on its referrals.  

The biannual briefings by the Prosecutor are important but not enough. The ICC needs the Council’s enforcement power. The Council should, at a minimum, discuss any finding of non-cooperation with a view to determining which of the tools is has at its disposal offer the most appropriate response. Such tools could be the establishment a working group to monitor and follow up on that case, or the dispatch of a letter or a meeting with the country concerned.

If the Security Council takes no action on non‑compliance decisions, the credibility and reputation of both the Security Council and the ICC will be damaged.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by saying that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute. As the Secretary General has said six years ago: “Those who contemplate committing horrific acts that shock the conscience of humankind can no longer be confident that their heinous crimes will go unpunished.” We have the ICC to thank for that.

But there are still many situations outside of the Court’s jurisdiction, with Syria being the most visible, and this Council is all too often paralyzed to take much needed action. This Council should protect this important Court and help it to reach its full potential. At the very least we should prevent any attempt to weaken previously agreed language in Resolutions.

If the ICC has the ability to scrutinize situations all around world, justice can be brought to those who are in need of it. We therefore urge all states to become a State Party to the Rome Statute.

Thank you.

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