I have the honour to address the Assembly of States Parties on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Candidate Countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?, Montenegro?, the Republic of Serbia?, the Republic of Albania? and the Republic of Moldova?, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, align themselves with this statement.
The EU and its Member States welcome this plenary debate on the important issue of cooperation. The European Union is committed to full co-operation on the prevention of serious crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the ICC and to the ending of impunity for the perpetrators. In 2006, the EU became the first regional organization to enter into an agreement on cooperation and assistance with the Court.
Full co-operation with the ICC is a prerequisite for the Court’s effective functioning. The Court does not have its own police or law enforcement structures at its disposal. Thus, in situations where the ICC has jurisdiction, States must provide the necessary law enforcement and other structures for investigations to take place and to execute ICC decisions.
This is why all States that have ratified the Rome Statute are under a legal obligation to “cooperate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes” (Art. 86 ICC Statute). This applies to various types of cooperation with the Court, including, first and foremost, the execution of arrest warrants. Voluntary cooperation with the ICC by States Parties to the Rome Statute, by way of bilateral agreements with the Court, or by any other means, is also essential for the functioning of the ICC.
Without State cooperation, the ICC cannot fulfill its mandate and the Rome Statute system risks collapse. This is why non-cooperation with the ICC – meaning the omission of an act by a state which is under a legal obligation to take certain actions vis-à-vis the Court – constitutes one of the most serious challenges to the effective functioning of the ICC. Non-cooperation not only undermines the Court but also constitutes a breach of a legal obligation and should be treated as such. This applies to all States Parties as well as when the UN Security Council has referred a situation to the Court in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter, specifically deciding on the cooperation of a given State which is not a State Party.
As we remain determined to put an end to the impunity of the perpetrators of the worst crimes, the EU and its Member States undertake consistent action to encourage full cooperation of States with the ICC, including the prompt execution of arrest warrants. Whenever non-cooperation occurs, the EU and its Member States call for effective action to respond to non-cooperation. In this same context, the EU and its Member States avoid non-essential contacts with individuals subject to an arrest warrant issued by the ICC.
The ICC relies entirely on national law enforcement systems to give effect to its orders, including with requests for arrest and surrender. This means that States Parties to the Rome Statute need to take appropriate measures at national level to provide the basis for effective cooperation with the ICC.
The EU and its Member States are particularly engaged in promoting and contributing to strengthening the capacity of national judicial systems to investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes, and – if need be – to efficiently cooperate with the ICC. Such effective and efficient interplay between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court is pivotal to giving full effect to the Rome Statute. In this context, the EU and its Member States believe that States need to explore further ways for better co-operation with ICC, for instance by generalising the practice of designating a national focal point or national central authority for cooperation.
However, all too often, there is still a gap between international justice and national justice systems in this regard. The successful implementation of the complementarity principle requires both political will and capacity. States need to be willing and able, but also willing to be able to fight impunity of most serious crimes. The EU and its Member States welcome the comprehensive approach to cooperation and complementarity within the proposed Action Plan on arrest strategies, and fully support this approach.
This plenary debate on cooperation underlines the importance of consistent action by States, international and regional organizations as well as civil society to encourage and improve full co-operation of States with the ICC, including the prompt execution of arrest warrants. Fulfilling the ICC mandate is largely dependent upon the success of this action.