63th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sixth Committee
Speech delivered by the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Country the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova and Armenia, align themselves with this declaration.
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the Rule of Law are key principles that the European Union is founded on. These principles include the goal of promoting compliance with international humanitarian law. The European Union is fully committed to do so in a visible and consistent manner, as shown by the adoption of the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law in December 2005. The purpose of the Guidelines is to set out operational tools for the EU and its institutions.
The European Union urges the Member States of the UN, -that have not yet done so-, to accede to both additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions and to consider accepting the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission, pursuant to Article 90 of the First Additional Protocol.
The EU welcomes the adoption in December 2005 of III Additional Protocol, establishing an additional emblem, the Red Crystal, alongside the existing emblems. The EU welcomes the entry into force of this protocol in February 2007 and urges all States to become parties to it.
The Geneva Conventions enjoy universal acceptance, and most of the provisions of the Conventions and their 1977 additional protocols are generally recognised as customary law. It is important to continue the full implementation and dissemination of international humanitarian law. In this context, the EU wishes reiterate that certain minimum standards of humanity, including Article 3, common to Geneva Conventions which contains some of the minimum standards of humanity, must be respected in all situations of armed conflict.
The EU wishes to commend the ICRC for its continuous and manifold efforts to strengthen and to promote the dissemination of IHL as reported by the Secretary-General under this agenda item (A/61/222). In particular, the European Union notes with interest the discussion and update of the comprehensive study on Customary International Humanitarian Law by the ICRC which deserves a careful study by the Member States.
The European Union also welcomes the various national efforts to implement and disseminate IHL. Without proper training of armed forces, in particular, the norms of IHL remain without practical relevance.
Other instruments are also involved in the development and promotion of international humanitarian law.
The European Union recalls with satisfaction the adoption of the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law as Annex to the GA Resolution (60/147). The principles and guidelines address in a systematic way, -for the first time at the international level-, the question of remedies and reparation for victims which should be provided in national law.
The European Union also notes the adoption, in December 2006, after several years of negotiations, of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which helped overcome one of the shortcomings of international law. Similarly, the European Union takes note of the adoption in Dublin in May 2008, of the Convention on cluster munitions, which will be opened for signature shortly.
Finally, as a conclusion, I would like to recall the role played by the ICTY, ICTR and the ICC in promoting respect for international humanitarian law, by prosecuting and adjudicating perpetrators for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But, equally, another important function of the International Criminal Court is to deter those who are tempted to commit these appalling acts. In addition, the Rome Statute of the ICC allows, -for the first time at the international level-, victims to take part in the proceedings before the Court and to receive compensation. Justice is also restoring the dignity of victims. The EU reiterates its call upon all States to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute.
I thank you.