Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU to mark the 20th anniversary of its entry into force

(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)

20 years ago, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) entered into force.

The adoption of the Rome Statute has been a major step forward in the evolution of the international legal order and a breakthrough in the global fight against impunity. The ICC is the first permanent criminal judicial institution of universal character established to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, as foreseen in article 5 of the Rome Statute.

We call on all States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute in order to end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious international crimes. The EU and its Member States will continue to promote the universal ratification of the Rome Statute and its effective domestic implementation. We will continue to provide political and financial support to the Court, to allow it to carry out effectively its mandate also on behalf of victims.

Since its creation, the International Criminal Court has come a long way: from the first referrals by States Parties in 2004 to the first ICC judgment in 2009 and the first decision on reparations to victims in 2012. Its landmark decisions have contributed to the fight against impunity and the development of international criminal jurisprudence, for example on sexual and gender-based crimes, the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts and the destruction of cultural property.

We highlight the Court’s important role for delivering justice to victims of unimaginable atrocities, giving them a voice by enabling them to participate in its proceedings, providing assistance and awarding reparations.

The ICC constantly strives to improve and evolve. The ongoing process of review of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute system is an opportunity to make the Court more efficient and effective. We will continue to support the consideration of the recommendations of the Independent Expert Review, while preserving the integrity of the Rome Statute and respecting the prosecutorial and judicial independence of the Court.

We recall that the ICC is a court of last resort, complementary to national jurisdictions. States carry the primary responsibility to investigate, prosecute and bring perpetrators of the most serious international crimes to justice. States Parties have an obligation to cooperate with the Court in accordance with the Rome Statute. To increase its efficiency and effectiveness, the ICC depends also on voluntary cooperation in areas such as the relocation of witnesses, enforcement of sentences, and interim and final release of detained persons. We are committed to enhancing our efforts on cooperation, and to exchange information on best national practices.

The ICC has accomplished substantial judicial work and has considerably accelerated the pace of its activity with multiple ongoing investigations in almost all regions of the world. The heavy workload of the Court also requires increased and sustainable resources. We call on States Parties to pay their financial contributions in full and on time.

On this anniversary, we reconfirm our unwavering support for the Court, as an independent and impartial judicial institution. We renew our commitment to our obligations under the Rome Statute and will uphold, defend and promote its principles and values.

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