I have the honour to speak today on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand - the CANZ group - which commends the International Criminal Court for all it has accomplished to date.
The Rome Statute is on its way to achieving universal acceptance.
We can take great pride in the fact that it has attracted 110 States Parties in just over a decade; and we commend those Parties for committing themselves to full implementation of the Statute, and to ending impunity for grave crimes.
We thank also those States Parties and Non-Governmental Organisations who have actively promoted universality and full implementation of the Statute in the wider community.
Every year since its inception, the ICC has reached important milestones in its development – and 2009 has been no exception.
The Court is now fully operational.
The Office of the Prosecutor is investigating crimes and has issued warrants against alleged perpetrators in four situations; with several others also under analysis.
2009 has seen the commencement of the Court’s first trial, as well as its first voluntary appearance.
Next year will see another key “first” for the Court – when the inaugural ICC Review Conference convenes in Uganda.
The location of the Conference is a positive reflection on Africa’s constructive engagement with the Court over this last decade.
As the 2010 Review Conference draws closer, we encourage States and stakeholders to continue working together to ensure its success.
Tangible progress has been made in the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression, and there appears to be broad support for much of this work, particularly in relation to the definition of the crime and its elements.
Although some challenging issues remain, CANZ will do its utmost to help bring these important negotiations to a successful conclusion; and we encourage other States to do the same.
We also encourage States not to overburden the Review Conference with too many proposals to amend the Rome Statute.
These should only be considered if they enjoy broad support, promote universality, and address the Court’s most pressing needs.
While the Review Conference will be the first opportunity to consider amendments to the Statute, it will not be the last.
The Conference will also provide a unique opportunity to undertake a high-level stock-take of international criminal justice – to assess its concrete achievements, challenges and lessons learnt, and to identify practical, meaningful ways to strengthen the Court further.
While the Court reaches its key milestones, it continues to face challenges.
In addition to practical matters that require resolution to allow it to operate effectively and efficiently, it also faces some more overarching issues -
The CANZ countries will do their utmost to help make the Review Conference a success and encourage all participants to do the same.
Above all, however, we will continue to provide the International Criminal Court with our strong and unwavering support.