Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

220602 - UN Security Council - Open Debate on Strengthening Accountability and Justice for Serious Violations of International Law


2 June 2022

Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Australia thanks Albania, and in particular Prime Minister Rama, for convening this important debate.

We also thank today’s briefers for their valuable insights.

Accountability is an essential element of the rules-based international order.

It is critical for upholding international peace and security.

As we meet today, Russia is continuing to commit flagrant violations of international law in Ukraine – with a growing list of atrocities.

This must only underline the international community’s resolve to ensure accountability.

Today’s debate invites us to consider how we can hold perpetrators of serious violations of international law to account.

This requires us to strengthen accountability and justice at national, regional and international levels.

Accountability starts at home.

It is the primary responsibility of States to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes of international concern.

It is essential that all States strengthen their domestic criminal justice systems and enhance their capacity to conduct genuine investigations and prosecutions of these crimes.

But Australia recognises that accountability and justice can be delivered through a range of mechanisms and initiatives.

In addition to national efforts, Australia strongly supports the crucial role of international accountability initiatives, such as

  • the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), and
  • international investigative mechanisms.

Australia is committed to working with such bodies to advance accountability and ensure they deliver on their core mandates. 

The ICC is especially key to investigating and prosecuting international crimes when a State is unable or unwilling to do so.

We were pleased to recently provide additional support to assist the ICC Prosecutor and his Office.

We were also pleased to co-sponsor the establishment of an independent Commission of Inquiry mandated by the HRC as part of efforts to hold Russia to account.

The Commission of Inquiry will be critical to investigating and reporting on evidence of abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.

While distinct and autonomous, we encourage greater coordination between accountability efforts at all levels.

This will contribute to the success of all efforts and, where possible, avoid duplication and the re‑traumatisation of survivors.

It is imperative that the design and implementation of all accountability efforts adopt a survivor-centred approach, integrate gender perspectives and address intersecting inequalities.

It is our shared responsibility to seize this opportunity to strengthen accountability and justice for serious violations of international law at all levels.