Press Release: 30 October 2017

ICC President addresses United Nations General Assembly, calls for enhanced cooperation and support

© UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Today, 30 October 2017, the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, addressed the United Nations General Assembly to present the Court's annual report to the United Nations. The President called for enhanced cooperation with the Court and concerted efforts to investigate and prosecute international crimes at all levels in order to achieve effective deterrence.

In her annual report, President Fernández detailed the heavy workload of the Court. The Court is active with several cases at different stages of judicial proceedings and the Prosecutor continues her investigative activities in ten situations as well as her preliminary examinations relating to ten countries, on four continents.

"Bringing the alleged perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern before justice is the core mandate of the International Criminal Court. The Court was indeed created on the belief that these crimes constitute a threat to peace and security and that investigating and prosecuting them will help prevent further atrocities and contribute to sustainable peace.  In so doing, the Court does not target states or regions but seeks to protect the victims of such crimes," the President said in her remarks.

She elaborated on the importance of the participation of victims at the ICC and ongoing processes of reparations in various ICC cases, as well as the role played by the Trust Fund for Victims associated with the Court.  She stressed the importance of voluntary contributions to the Fund for the success of the reparations system and thanked all those who have already donated to the Fund including the most recent donations given this year.

The President informed the UNGA of progress in improving the Court´s efficiency and effectiveness, a priority for her three-year term as President, which will end on 10 March 2018. "The reforms we have put in place are already having a visible impact in our courtrooms and cases, including a clear and drastic reduction of the time required for some phases or aspects of proceedings," she said.

While the President thanked the United Nations for the organisation's vital support of the Court and acknowledged the excellent cooperation received from a large number of States, including countries where the Court has opened investigations, she also expressed concern about the outstanding arrest warrants. "The arrest of suspects remains the main challenge for the Court. In total, requests for arrest and transfer issued by the Court are outstanding against 15 persons, in six different situations. It is essential for our justice efforts that these individuals are brought before the Court. I appeal to all States to contribute to these efforts. I also urge the Security Council, which referred the situations in Darfur and in Libya to the Prosecutor to take active measures to ensure full cooperation with the Court."

Reflecting on the current state of the fight against impunity, the President said: "In the last thirty years, the concept of accountability has been put firmly in the global agenda. …. There is now an expectation that there will be accountability for the most serious crimes and the conviction that this is necessary for sustainable peace. The question is no longer whether to pursue justice, but rather when and how. The International Criminal Court is playing a central role in the international criminal justice system, and it is making important contributions to accountability for the gravest international crimes."

"However, despite all the progress there are still huge gaps where impunity continues to flourish. These can only be addressed through the joint justice efforts of international, regional and national systems. No single jurisdiction alone can deal with this type of crimes, which involve multiple perpetrators as well as thousands or hundreds of thousands of victims", the President added. She emphasised the complementary nature of the Court and that each State has the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute international crimes.

Finally, the President underlined the need to enlarge the membership in the ICC system. "Promoting the universal participation in the Rome Statute is of fundamental importance in order to enhance the effectiveness and the legitimacy of the institution and its capacity to contribute to the rule of law, justice, and sustainable peace and development.

Presentation of the Court's annual report to the UN General Assembly by Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court – 30 October 2017

Annual report of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations General Assembly on its activities in 2016/17

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson/Head, Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or 31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected]

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