Justice plays a “crucial role” in maintaining international peace and security: ICC Prosecutor briefs the UN Security Council.
On Thursday, 23 October 2014, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC or the Court), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, briefed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York, in an open debate on the constructive role the Council can play in support of the exercise of the Office of the Prosecutor’s independent mandate.
“We believe that the rights of women and children, indeed the rights of all civilians in times of conflict; the protection of peacekeeping missions and the rule of law are topics of common importance for both of our respective institutions. The same holds true for the crucial role justice plays in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security,” said the Prosecutor.
Focussed on the working methods of the UNSC, the open debate took place almost exactly two years after a similar session was organized by Guatemala, and provided a unique opportunity to exchange on how the Council can support the work of the Court and propose concrete solutions to the specific challenges that will make a difference to the victims of mass atrocities.
At the meeting, Prosecutor Bensouda emphasized the continued need for cooperation and follow-up to UNSC referrals and the need for mechanisms to ensure timely and coordinated support. She underscored the importance of States Parties within and outside the Council working together and in one voice, as well as the need to think proactively about how the Council, the Assembly of States Parties and the ICC can work in concert within their respective mandates, to advance the crucially important goals of ending impunity for mass crimes and promoting the international rule of law.
Calling for the appointment of a single focal point for interaction between the UNSC and the ICC, the Prosecutor outlined a number of areas where enhanced coordination could provide greater follow-up to relevant Council resolutions. Lack of adequate and effective follow-up on referrals to the ICC is a matter of continuing concern, shared with the Council, said the Prosecutor. Citing the Darfur situation, the failure to implement aspects of resolutions referring situations to the ICC, she said, can reflect a much deeper problem. Prosecutor Bensouda noted that of the fifty-five resolutions on the Sudan, very few had been implemented, suggesting the need to review them collectively as well as individually.
The Prosecutor also invited the Council to use clearer language in its referrals, in particular concerning the obligation of all States to cooperate with the ICC and to uphold its judicial rulings.
Prosecutor Bensouda called for serious discussion on effective arrest strategies, expressing her sincere hope that the UNSC “can definitively call on all UN Member States to provide the necessary assistance.” She proposed that a focal point for interaction between the UNSC and the ICC could be of practical assistance on this issue and in a number of other helpful ways, including the question of the outstanding response of the Council to the ICC’s findings of non-cooperation. ”It is not only a question of focusing on non-cooperation of specific States,” said the Prosecutor, ”but of looking more positively and proactively at how to encourage cooperation as specific challenges arise.’’
Finally, the Prosecutor urged the UNSC to take into consideration that the lack of State or UN financing for Council referrals “has a real impact on the ability of my Office to conduct full and effective investigations in the Darfur and Libya situations” in light of the need to revitalize both of these investigations.
In the spirit that sustainable peace and security cannot be achieved without justice, Prosecutor Bensouda stressed that “[t]he Council assumes a crucial role in the emerging system of international criminal justice and must embrace this role with all the opportunities for constructive engagement that it provides.” She concluded by welcoming “further interaction on specific challenges, and to seeking the intersections and synergies between the ICC’s and the Council’s separate and independent mandates” in so far as they enhance humanity’s yearning to seek impartial justice for “mass crimes that shock our collective conscience and ‘threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world’.” The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office of the Prosecutor is currently conducting eight investigations: in Uganda; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; Central African Republic; Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria, Ukraine and the situation referred by the Union of the Comoros.