Security Council Open debate on
“Strengthening Accountability and Justice for Serious Violations of International Law”
2 June 2022
STATEMENT OF ITALY
Italy aligns itself with the statements delivered by the representative of the European Union, by the representative of Austria on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Rule of Law and by the representative of the Marshall Islands on behalf of the Group of Friends on accountability in Ukraine and would like to add some remarks in a national capacity.
Accountability and justice are universal values. They are fundamental pillars of the rules-based international order. When serious violations of international law are committed, perpetrators must be held to account and justice must be done, especially in the interest of victims. That regardless of where the violations occur and by whom they are committed.
Since its very creation, Italy has been a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court. In a few weeks, we will celebrate the 20 years since the entry into force of the Rome Statute. While its ratification is not yet universal, the ICC represents the most advanced institutional and legal model delivering criminal justice in case of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. We must continue to defend its integrity and independence, while ensuring its effectiveness.
Following the start of the unprovoked war of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, Italy has joined 42 States in referring to the ICC Prosecutor the situation in Ukraine. We must make sure that those responsible for atrocities are held to account and eventually brought to justice, whether before competent national courts or the ICC. Italy supports all investigative activities carried out on the ground. Together with other partners, we are working to ensure that the ICC is able to meet its increasing workload in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Italy is also supportive of fact-finding mechanisms established by the UN in order to ensure accountability for grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence, reported to be committed in Myanmar, Syria and Ukraine. These mechanisms are not a substitute for criminal justice, but they complement and support investigative activities carried out by national and international prosecutors.
Accountability and justice are essential ingredients in advancing the mission of the United Nations in maintaining and restoring international peace and security. The Security Council must shoulder its primary responsibility in this respect. The establishment of the two ad hoc criminal tribunals on the Former Yugoslavia and on Rwanda, the creation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the referrals of the situations in Sudan and Libya to the ICC are all examples in which the Council has delivered on its mandate. However, all too often in the last ten years the Council has been unable to act due to the threat or actual veto posed by one of its permanent members.
Italy supports all initiatives aimed at limiting the exercise of the right of veto when atrocity crimes are committed, including the French-Mexican political declaration launched in 2015. Use of all powers under Ch. VI and application of all procedural provisions of the Charter, including Article 27, paragraph 3, are also key to ensure that the Security Council initiate and support accountability and justice mechanisms.
Let me conclude with two observations.
First, the perspectives, rights and interests of victims and witnesses are essential elements in any functioning international criminal justice and accountability system. Italy is proud to have strongly advocated for the insertion in the Rome Statute of Art. 68.3 providing for the participation of victims in proceedings before the ICC.
Second, accountability and justice for egregious violations of international law must be ensured also at the level of inter-state relations. In this respect, Italy welcomes the decision of the International Court of Justice of 16 March 2022 ordering Russia to immediately suspend its military operation in Ukraine. We will also continue to support Ukraine’s legal action before the ICJ, as stated in the joint statement of 20 May 2022 co-signed by Italy together with over 40 other Member States and the EU.
I thank you, Mr President.