United Nations General Assembly: Report of the International Criminal Court

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr President, Secretary-General, and your Excellencies.

We thank President Hofmański for the Court’s report and welcome the opportunity to discuss the International Criminal Court’s contribution to the international rule of law and its ongoing relationship with the United Nations.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Criminal Court and the coming into force of the Rome Statute. The creation of the ICC was a huge achievement, marking a crucial step forward in the global fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.

New Zealand continues to consider the Court to be a central pillar in the international rules-based order and the international criminal justice system. As the first and only permanent international criminal court, the Court is a key institution within a broader system of domestic and international accountability mechanisms. While the Court has weathered significant challenges over the past two decades, we reiterate that an independent Court to act as a last resort to try the most serious crimes of concern to humanity is as necessary as ever.

We commend the significant progress the Court has made this year and the substantial judicial work it has accomplished despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the considerable demand on the mandate of the Court. We reaffirm our unwavering support for the Court and its mandate to hold to account those individuals responsible for the most serious international crimes. For this reason, we came forward as one of the group of countries to formally refer to the Ukrainian situation to the Court.

With the addition of four new active investigations to the Court’s caseload this year, New Zealand’s focus has been on ensuring the Court is sufficiently resourced to enable it continue undertaking its investigations and prosecutions independently and impartially.

New Zealand was pleased this year to be able to provide additional funding to the OTP and Trust Fund for Victims as well as deploy a specialised national expert to work with the Court.

We recognise that the Court operates as part of a broader system of international and national accountability mechanisms for international crimes. We acknowledge and commend all those working within this system, including civil society, to end impunity for international crimes and to emphasise accountability for atrocity crimes as part of the rule of law. We reaffirm the invaluable assistance that has been provided by civil society to the Court, and reiterate the importance of protecting all of those cooperating with the Court.

As we celebrate the Court’s 20th anniversary and its many successes and accomplishments over the past two decades, we look ahead to the next chapter of the Court’s existence. We continue to support the ongoing review process to strengthen the Rome Statute system and enhance the effective performance of the Court’s mandate. We welcome consideration of the comprehensive set of recommendations made by the Independent Expert Review in its final report and encourage all States Parties to ensure their ongoing support for the Court in implementing appropriate recommendations.

New Zealand is committed to the Rome Statute and its underpinning principles of complementarity, cooperation and universality. The Court complements, rather than replaces, national courts as an independent court of last resort. The primary responsibility to take robust and appropriate measures when faced with the commission of international crimes lies with States.

Domestic courts and judicial processes which secure accountability for the perpetrators of international crimes are crucial to implementing the principle of complementarity. We encourage States Parties that have not done so to consider incorporating Rome Statute crimes and principles into their domestic law.

New Zealand calls on all countries who have not yet done so to ratify or accede the Rome Statute and strongly supports universal membership of the Rome Statute, which will help end impunity and ensure that all victims have access to justice.

We will continue to demonstrate our support for the Court in order to ensure that the Court delivers justice for victims, and accountability, in respect of the most serious crimes of international concern.

Thank you.


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