Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

240622 - UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting - 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court


24 June 2022

Written statement by Australia

The creation of the International Criminal Court 20 years ago was a historic milestone in the international community’s efforts to end impunity for atrocity crimes.

Accountability is essential to achieving lasting peace and security, and the Court is at the heart of this pursuit.

This anniversary provides the opportunity to reflect on the Court’s crucial work over the past two decades in investigating serious international crimes and holding perpetrators to account.

The current investigation into the situation in Ukraine demonstrates now, more than ever, the importance of an independent and impartial international court to pursue this worthy goal.

This is why Australia committed one million Australian dollars in additional funding—and two professional staff—to support the Prosecutor’s Office at this pivotal time.

Yet the measure of the Court’s success over the last 20 years is not limited to the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions.

It also includes the contribution the Court has made in motivating and boosting national efforts towards accountability and justice.

This reflects its role as a court of last resort, in line with the principle of complementarity on which it was built.

This anniversary also provides the opportunity to take stock of the challenges the Court faces, including its relationship with the UN Security Council.

Australia regrets that despite evidence of atrocity crimes being committed with impunity across the globe, the Security Council has only twice referred a situation to the Court for investigation.

We especially regret that this has often been due to the use, or threat of use, of the veto power.

In this regard, Australia welcomes the recent General Assembly initiative aimed at holding the five permanent members accountable for their use of the veto.

Where the Security Council has referred a situation to the Court, we urge the Council to do more to support the Court’s implementation of that mandate. This could include

  • addressing incidents of non-cooperation with the Court or non‑enforcement of arrest warrants
  • mandating UN peacekeeping or peacebuilding missions
  • and imposing targeted sanctions.

Where relevant, the Security Council should also invite representatives of the Court to participate in its meetings.

Of course, the Court is not a perfect institution.  It continues to learn lessons and improve its work.

Australia welcomes the important reforms underway, in line with the Report of the recent Independent Expert Review. And we reiterate our support for a Rome Statute Review Conference to be held in 2023.

Australia looks forward to continuing our work with the Court and States Parties to ensure a strong international court capable of achieving its important role in countering impunity – now and into the future.