Thank you, Madam President.  

We thank President Eboe-Osuji for his Report and we welcome the opportunity to discuss the International Criminal Court’s contribution to the international rule of law and the Court’s relationship with the United Nations.

New Zealand strongly supports the Court and the critical importance of its mandate to hold those who commit the most serious international crimes to account, regardless of where they occur.

There has been a great deal of reflection on the role of the Court in this 20th anniversary year of its founding Statute. For New Zealand’s part, we consider the Court to be a central component in the international rules-based order and international efforts to end impunity. We acknowledge that the Court has weathered significant challenges over the past two decades, and continues to do so. We emphasize, however, that that an independent Court to act as a last resort to try the most serious crimes of concern to humanity is as essential and needed as ever.

New Zealand is committed to the Rome Statute and its underpinning principles of complementarity, cooperation and universality. We are also firmly of the belief that the mandate and credibility of the Court are intrinsically tied to its independence and impartiality. New Zealand urges all States to uphold these principles and to be guided by them in their dealings with the Court.

Last year’s Assembly of States Parties saw the successful completion of a decades-long process towards activation of the Crime of Aggression. This was a momentous achievement of historic significance, all the more so because it was adopted by consensus. The Assembly also added three new war crimes to the Rome Statute, criminalising the use of microbial, biological or toxin weapons, weapons that injure by fragments undetectable by X-rays, and laser blinding weapons, both in case of international armed conflicts as well as in case of armed conflicts not of an international character.

As we look ahead to the next Assembly in December, New Zealand’s view is that States Parties should focus on supporting the Court to consolidate its work in the exercise of its existing mandate, and to focus on the investigation and prosecution of the most serious international crimes, consistent with the principle of complementarity. New Zealand considers that channelling our collective efforts towards this goal will be the most effective way of galvanising the Court against the challenges it faces.

New Zealand has previously stated the view that in the spirit of universality, we must listen to each other, constructively debate concerns, and address them in a manner that preserves the integrity of the Court. We stand by that view, and remain ready to work with other States to increase membership of the Court.

One of the most important strands in the relationship between the Court and the United Nations is the role the Security Council can play in achieving accountability for international crimes through the use of its referral powers. New Zealand reiterates its view that the Council should use these powers to ensure accountability. Just as the International Court of Justice is an important tool in the Council’s peace and security toolkit, so is the International Criminal Court.

New Zealand remains convinced that when the Council decides to refer a situation to the Court, it should do so with a clear commitment to follow up and ensure that the Court receives the support, cooperation and resources (including funding) to implement Council decisions.  Failure to take action calls into question the authority of the Council and its decisions.  New Zealand is encouraged by the efforts made to raise this issue, including the Arria Formula meeting earlier this year, but calls on all Council members to make greater efforts to address it in a systematic fashion.

The importance of the Court’s work for the victims of the crimes that it prosecutes must not be forgotten. In acknowledging this work, we recognise that States Parties can assist by making contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims.  New Zealand was pleased this year to be able to make a contribution to that fund.

New Zealand looks forward to engaging constructively with other States Parties at the upcoming Assembly of States Parties to identify practical options that will make the Court stronger and more effective.

Thank you, Madam President