Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In one of the most ambitious legislative efforts since the Second World War, 160 countries, more than 20 international organisations, 14 specialised UN agencies, some 200 non-governmental organisations and 474 accredited journalists took part in a five-week conference organised by the UN General Assembly. When the vote in favour of the Rome Statute was cast on the night of 17 July 1998, we knew we had made history.
Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption in Rome of the founding document of the first permanent international criminal court. This crucial milestone sent out a strong message: impunity for the perpetrators of such crimes must not be tolerated. In this respect, Switzerland's commitment remains unwavering. Accountability is a common thread running through Switzerland's work in the Security Council, which is closely linked to building sustainable peace and protecting civilians. Switzerland fully supports the International Criminal Court as an independent judicial institution and the important work it undertakes in all situations under its jurisdiction.
I would like to highlight three points:
Firstly, we would like to stress the fundamental importance of justice as an essential prerequisite for lasting peace. As demonstrated by the Security Council's action in referring the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, and subsequently in Libya, justice and peace are interdependent. Together, the Security Council and the International Criminal Court represent milestones in our shared vision of a fairer, safer and more peaceful world. Bringing the perpetrators of crimes to justice contributes to reconciliation processes and prevents the perpetuation of the cycle of violence.
Moreover, legal proceedings allow victims to be heard, to seek redress and to rebuild their lives. In this respect, we welcome the central role given to victims in ICC proceedings and the efforts made by the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. In the words of a 26-year-old survivor: "The Trust Fund has given us hope and the opportunity to participate in the development of our community." In addition, we welcome the important involvement of civil society organisations, which complement the Court's efforts by assisting victims, raising awareness of the Court's mandate and collecting evidence.
Secondly, we reiterate that the ICC is not intended to replace national courts. In accordance with the Rome Statute, the Court only intervenes when States are unwilling or unable to conduct their own investigations. The ICC therefore works closely with national jurisdictions, as it depends on their support in many respects, while helping them where necessary to strengthen their capacities. We cannot stress the importance of cooperation with the Court enough. We are committed in the Council to ensuring that the mandates of UN peacekeeping missions continue to include references to accountability. To implement this accountability, cooperation with the ICC is crucial. Security Council members should also refrain from voting against credible draft resolutions aimed at preventing or ending mass atrocities. We call on all Member States to subscribe to the Code of Conduct developed by the ACT Group, to which 129 countries have so far signed up.
Thirdly, the Court must be able to count on a solid statute and universal support. We therefore call on all States that have not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute. In recent years, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute has adopted several amendments to strengthen it. We call on all States Parties to ratify these amendments, in particular the one introduced by Switzerland to ensure that the starvation of civilians is also prosecuted in situations of internal conflict, as well as the Kampala amendments. This will help to make criminal justice more effective, both nationally and internationally.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The anniversary of 17 July 1998 provides us with an opportunity to honour the past, but it is equally important to look to the future. The founding of the ICC 25 years ago was the fruit of collective action, which deserves constant and resolute support. Switzerland reiterates its unwavering support for the ICC and is determined to defend the principles and values at the heart of the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity. The Rome Statute is a decisive step towards building a safer and fairer world. A step that brings us closer to the world envisaged by the United Nations Charter.
Thank you very much.