UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PLENARY DEBATE ON THE REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
31 October 2022
Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you, Mr President, good afternoon colleagues.
Thank you also to President Hofmanski for the briefing on the important work of the International Criminal Court over the past year, and also, for your insights on the challenges ahead.
Australia has been a steadfast supporter of the Court since it was established twenty years ago.
Like the United Nations (UN), the Court is a vital part of the international framework for ensuring peace and security.
Accountability is critical to sustaining peace. Yet the legacy of the International Criminal Court is not merely in its successful prosecutions.
The Court has also played an important role in deterring the commission of serious international crimes and encouraging national efforts to hold perpetrators to account.
This is why Australia was pleased to co-sponsor today’s resolution. We welcome cooperation between the UN and the Court towards the shared goals of peace and security.
As co-focal point on complementarity since 2017, Australia reiterates that this principle is crucial to the Court’s success in achieving its core mandate, as a court of last resort, in investigating and prosecuting serious international crimes.
As part of this mandate, we continue to support the Court’s survivor-centered approach to accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes.
We must remember that victims remain at the heart of international justice.
The 13,000 victims that participated in cases before the Court over the past year reminds us of the vital role the Court plays in fighting impunity.
Australia commends the continued work of the Trust Fund for Victims.
In particular, its work in providing physical, psychological, and material assistance is an important initiative that has been transformative for survivors and their families.
We welcome the strengthening of the Trust Fund’s mandate to deliver effective justice to victims.
Australia welcomes the commencement earlier this year of the first trial on the basis of a UN Security Council referral. Yet we regret that the Council has only twice referred a situation to the Court for investigation, despite atrocities occurring across the world.
In this regard, Australia welcomes the General Assembly initiative aimed at ensuring responsible use of the veto by the five permanent members.
We urge the permanent members to refrain from using the veto in the face of serious international crimes.
Australia also regrets that arrest warrants remain outstanding for 14 individuals.
We urge all States to provide cooperation to the Court to ensure these cases can be heard.
Australia also encourages the Security Council to do more to support the Court’s implementation of mandates that are based on Security Council referrals.
The current investigation into the situation in Ukraine demonstrates now, more than ever, the importance of an independent and impartial international court.
As atrocities continue to occur across the world, Australia remains committed to supporting the court to achieve its important role in countering impunity.
This is why we have committed one million Australian dollars in additional funding – and two professional staff – to support the Prosecutor’s Office at this pivotal time.
Australia welcomes continued support from the UN for the International Criminal Court, to achieve the shared goals of justice, accountability, and the maintenance of international peace and security.