Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on the Rule of Law

Oct 17, 2012

(Security Council: Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig on the Rule of Law)

"Gracias Señor Presidente,

Agradezco mucho la presidencia guatemalteca haber tomado la initiativa por este debate importante. Acogemos con gratitud su presencia, señor ministro, hoy en este consejo. 

I would like to thank the Secretary-General, as well as President Song and Mr. Mochochoko of the ICC for their briefings.

Germany aligns itself with the EU Statement to be delivered later during this debate.

Mr. President,

10 years after the entry into force of the Rome Statute, the Council and the ICC have developed an enduring relationship based on common objectives. Sustainable Peace and Security must be solidly rest on justice, the Rule of Law, and human rights. Justice itself requires accountability. Both are crucial aspects of a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The Council’s recognition of this linkage has materialized through its own creation of the Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. And given their largely overlapping constituencies, it is only natural that the Council and the ICC should closely collaborate: while the Council exercises its responsibility on behalf of all 193 Members of the United Nations, 121 States have now acceded to the Rome Statute: bringing the ICC ever nearer to the goal of universality. And Mr. President, please allow me therefore to congratulate Guatemala for having become the most recent state party to the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute of the ICC has provided the Security Council with important options to directly pursue the path of justice. It has thus expanded the range of action under the Council’s mandate. In turn, the Council has repeatedly recognized the important contribution of the ICC and the other international tribunals to the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. This was reiterated most recently when the German Foreign Minister, in his capacity as President of the Security Council, addressed the General Assembly during the High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law on 24 September.

At the same time, we need to recognise the respective characteristics and differences of both organs which define the essence, scope, and limits of their mutual relationship. The Council is a political organ, and the ICC is an independent court of justice. Therefore, and despite their often complementary functions, any notion of one organ serving the other is misguided. Furthermore, not all Council members have acceded to the Rome Statute. Some Council members have at times voiced scepticism vis-a-vis the Court, they have even questioned its role regarding the interplay of peace and justice. At the same time, the Council has demonstrated unity on such issues when referring the situations in both Darfur and Libya to the ICC. On other occasions, the Council has been deeply divided and, as a consequence, remained inactive. Syria is a case in point where not only peace and security are at stake, but where victims of daily and well-documented crimes cry out for justice.

Mr. President,

In the context of referrals, there are a number of steps that this Council, the U.N. as a whole, and the individual Member States concerned can take in support for the ICC, and in exercising fully the responsibility that stems from interacting with the Court:

- Firstly, on referrals by the Security Council: By referring the Darfur and Libya situations to the ICC, the Council has proven its readiness to incorporate this option in its toolbox of measures. The Council must retain its willingness to use this tool as a last resort. As an act of political responsibility by the Council, a referral does not prejudge the findings of the Court and its organs. At the same time, we are looking forward to ratification of the Rome Statute by the greatest possible number of States, so that referrals become more and more obsolete;

- Secondly, on cooperation: just a few months ago, the former ICC chief prosecutor in this chamber expressed his intense frustration at the fact that the four arrest warrants issued in the Darfur case have not been implemented. Germany fully shares this frustration, as the lack of cooperation seriously undermines the Court’s credibility. But just as much as states must cooperate with the Court, the responsibility of the Security Council does not end with the decision to refer a situation to the Court. Rather, the Council needs to carefully watch over all steps and measures taken by the Court and the Prosecutor in following up to the Council’s request to investigate a given situation. Regarding notifications of non-cooperation, the Council should actively take note of such a breach of a state’s obligation to cooperate, and clearly express its views on the matter. Cooperation of states also extends to allowing the full application of the Rome Statute, including those provisions that relate to privileges and immunities of ICC staff in exercise of their functions, as well as to the full application of the relationship agreement between the United Nations and the ICC; and

- Thirdly, on financing: Both as a State Party to the Rome Statute and a member of the Security Council, we are of the strong view that when the Council, acting on behalf of the International Community, refers a situation to the ICC, ensuing expenses on the ICC side should be borne by the United Nations rather than by the States Parties. We do not concur with the position taken by some Council members in this regard implying that the pursuit of justice should be a free ride. Accordingly, the Security Council should avoid any reference to the apportionment of costs in possible future referrals. Both the Assembly of States Parties and the General Assembly have, in respective resolutions, recently opened the way for the ICC and the UN to jointly address this issue, and we are looking forward to a solution that is a clear expression of international support for the practice of referrals.

Finally, Mr. President, I would like to thank the Presidency again for having organised this important debate. Germany would support the holding of regular debates on this important topic.

I thank you."

© GermanyUN

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