17 October 2012Statement by UK Ambassador Philip Parham at the Security Council debate on Promotion and Strengthening the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Justice, chaired by Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Harold Caballeros
We wish to thank Guatemala for suggesting this debate, and for the opportunity to discuss such an important issue, and for also underlining your support by presiding here yourself today. The timing is particularly relevant given the 10th anniversary this year of the International Criminal Court and the sad fact that the need to expand peace, justice and accountability is as urgent now as ever before.
In that context we are grateful for the Secretary-General President Song and Mr Mochochoko for their briefings and their calls to action.
The rule of law is critical to the preservation of the rights of individuals and the protection of the interests of all states. To borrow the words of the great humanist Erasmus, justice “restrains bloodshed, punishes guilt, defends possessions and keeps people safe from oppression”.
This is why the United Kingdom Government is a strong supporter of international justice in general and the International Criminal Court in particular. We have learnt from history that you cannot have lasting peace without justice, accountability and reconciliation. The Arab Spring has reminded us again that nations cannot maintain long-term stability and prosperity without human rights, political participation and economic freedom for their citizens.
The International Criminal Court has a central role to play in achieving an end to impunity and it is in that context that cooperation with the Court is so essential. We agree with President Song that in making future referrals, this Council should underline clearly the need for Member States to cooperate fully with the Court. The Security Council and the Court have a mutually reinforcing relationship. This is evidenced in the Council resolutions and statements which have regularly recognised the importance of the Court and the role that it plays in helping to deliver peace and reconciliation.
Most obviously there are the resolutions referring the situations in Darfur and Libya to the Court and the briefings that flow from them. But there are other resolutions too which recognise the role of the ICC and we would highlight resolutions 2053 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2062 on Cote d’Ivoire and 2071 on Mali as examples from this year, not to mention the various Presidential and press statements which refer to the Court’s role and work.
The Security Council, however, also needs to be ready to respond to issues that hinder the Court’s activities, such as a failure by a state to implement the Court’s outstanding arrest warrants notwithstanding an obligation to do so under either the Rome Statute or a Chapter VII resolution. These issues are not straightforward. They raise real challenges but as we work to support the Court we must keep in mind the victims and recognise that, in these instances, the International Criminal Court may be the only path to justice.
Achieving the universality of the Rome Statute is the key to deepening and broadening the reach of the rule of law. We need all States which have not yet become a party to the Rome Statute to do so and we need states parties to live up to their responsibilities.
Until then, where impunity is unchecked and accountability denied, the Security Council must be prepared to live up to its responsibility and take action. The Council and the Court must continue to send a strong message to those leaders who would commit atrocities: you will be held to account, by the International Criminal Court if not your own Courts.
In Syria, the world is calling for a stop to the state-sponsored killing and torture machine, which has already claimed thousands of victims, and for an end to the vicious cycle of violence. So far our efforts have not succeeded, but as our Foreign Secretary has made clear, we remain committed to ensuring that those responsible will be held accountable and we will offer every support to those seeking to ensure that this happens.
The path to peace and justice can be long and difficult but progress is possible as long as we strengthen our commitment to the international rule of law.
Thank you Mr President.