Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
by H.E. Mr Rein Tammsaar
77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Agenda Item 77 “The Report of the International Criminal Court”
31 October 2022
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the three Baltic States – Latvia, Lithuania and my own country Estonia.
The Baltic States align with the statement made by the European Union and its Member States.
We would like to thank Judge Piotr Hofmański for his presentation today and his dedicated work as the President.
As this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of entering into force of the Rome Statute, we congratulate the International Criminal Court for its remarkable 20 years of activities. The ICC continues to play a vital role in the maintenance of rules based international order, respect for and promotion of international law and in ensuring accountability for the most serious international crimes. We express our firm support to the role and mandate of the ICC to respond to atrocity crimes and fight impunity.
We would like to congratulate the two new Deputy-Prosecutors and new members of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims elected during the reporting period by the Assembly of State Parties, as well as the new Chair and Vice-Chair elected by the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund and wish them all every success in their endeavours.
We commend the progress made in the implementation process of the Independent Experts Review recommendations aimed at strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of the ICC in delivering justice during the reporting period.
As we just heard from Judge Piotr Hofmański, the reporting period marked significant progress and expanded activities in the Court’s investigations as well as judicial proceedings. As indicated in the report, with the commencement of two trials, continuation of two trials and entering the preparation a fifth case, the Court’s trial activities have been brought to an unprecedented level indeed. We commend that investigations have been opened with regard to 17 situations in different regions of the world from Africa and South America to Europe. This year the Baltic and the considerable number of the EU Member States have provided additional financial and/or operational support to the Court to tackle its heavy workload.
Efficiency of the Court inevitably depends on the cooperation of the States with the Court. We call on all States and stakeholders to offer their full cooperation to the Court. All States need to fully engage and cooperate with the Court for the arrest and surrender to the Hague of the 15 individuals against whom the Court has issued arrest warrants. Regarding our own region, we take note of issuing three arrest warrants in relation to crimes allegedly committed during the 2008 armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia.
The Baltic States were among 43 States referring the Situation in Ukraine to the ICC and we commend Prosecutor Khan for swift opening of the investigation. The perpetrators of atrocity crimes must be brought to justice. In this context we call on all States who have not done so, accede to the Rome Statute and accept the relevant amendments of the Rome Statute to allow jurisdiction of the ICC to investigate also the crime of aggression.
The Baltic States cooperate also in the framework of Eurojust in order to investigate core international crimes committed in Ukraine and have joined among other states and the ICC the International Investigation Team (JIT) established with the assistance of Eurojust.
The main purpose of the JIT is to facilitate investigations and international judicial coordination. We commend that Eurojust and the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC have published practical guidelines for civil society organisations on documenting core international crimes, which is practical assistance in efforts to collect and preserve information and evidence that may become admissible in court.
The Security Council has a special task to uphold and promote international law by responding decisively to grave violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights. We support the views expressed in the report that the dialogue between the Court and the Security Council on matters of mutual interest, both thematic and situation-specific could be enhanced further with a view of strengthening synergies between the mandates of both entities and further developing their working methods.
We regret that the Security Council has not fulfilled its task in responding decisively to grave violations of international law, referring situations to the ICC and that some permanent members have misused their right of veto. We repeat our call to the Security Council to refrain from using the right of veto in cases of mass atrocities and to use its right of referral to the ICC of situations where one or more crimes, including crime of aggression, appears to have been committed.
The ICC plays an important role in delivering justice to victims. We express our appreciation and support to the continued important work of the Trust Fund for Victims in offering reparations for victims of the most serious crimes, their families and communities. We encourage all States to consider making voluntary contributions to the Fund.
Finally, we once again call on all States to ratify the Rome Statute in order to further strengthen the system of international criminal justice and enable it to provide truly universal protection.