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6 December 2010 - 9th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(Unofficial translation)

Mr. President,

1 - France supports the statement that the Belgian Presidency has just delivered on behalf of the 27 Member States of the European Union.

2 - I would like to thank President Song and Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo for their presentations. France values the information on the preliminary examination activities, the judicial proceedings and the cooperation of States, which are the core activities of the International Criminal Court.

3 - Because it is a permanent and independent Court, because it can initiate investigations independently without the intervention of States, the Court has an immense capacity to prevent the most serious crimes. But this can only be achieved if the 114 States Parties brought together in this Assembly lend their unfailingly support to the international system of justice established in Rome. As the President and the Prosecutor have repeatedly indicated, this Court will only have jurisdiction over a limited number of cases. Its role in preventing crimes will therefore largely depend on our capacity, as States Parties, to take into consideration and support the actions of the Court at all stages of its work.

4 - Preliminary examinations are currently underway with respect to 9 situations, now that the Prosecutor has announced that crimes committed in the territory of SouthKorea are also on the list. The Colombian President, whose country is under "preliminary examination", has come to explain to this Assembly the role of the Court in his country. His speech sheds light on the ICC’s impact.

5- France has also noted with utmost interest the missions conducted by the Office of the Prosecutor in Guinea under the leadership of Mrs Fatou Bensouda. The international community must reiterate and respect the parameters agreed by the African Union, ECOWAS, the European Union and other actors since October 2008 following the crimes committed in the Conakry stadium: those most responsible for these crimes will be tried either in Guinea or in The Hague. There is no third alternative. In this respect, France pays tribute to the commitment by the Guinean authorities to cooperate.

6 - Regarding Côte d’Ivoire, a country which has lodged an ad hoc declaration recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court, the OTP recalled as soon as 2 December last week that it was monitoring whether the violence could amount to the planning or commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. We hope that such efforts and those of the entire international community will prevent further suffering for the people of CDI. This role of the Court in the prevention of crimes is at the heart of the Rome statute.

7 - Regarding the Prosecutor’s investigations, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo announced this morning that he will shortly present to the Judges of the Court his case concerning those responsible for the electoral violence in Kenya. We expect the Kenyan authorities to continue to lend their full support to the Court. We welcome the tireless efforts by Mr. Kofi Annan, the chair of African Union’s panel of eminent personalities, to ensure full respect for the need for justice in all stages of the process of reconciliation in Kenya.

8 - We also note that on December 8, the confirmation hearing of two Sudanese rebels will be held before the Court, and will address their alleged involvement in the attack against an African Union base in Darfur. This is another example of the wide range of proceedings now brought before the Court.

Mr. President,

9. Most of the situations brought before the Court, whether with respect to preliminary examinations, investigations or trials, are matters that threaten or may threaten international peace and security. Some are on the Security Council’s agenda: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Afghanistan, Guinea and of course Darfur, referred to the Court by the Council in March 2005, under Chapter VII of the Charter.

10- Most of the crimes brought before the Court are also crimes that the Security Council has deemed as posing a threat to international peace and security: the recruitment of children in armed conflict, sexual violence, and attacks on peacekeeping soldiers, among others.

11 - The delivery of decisions by the Court finally proves that the networks that we know so well - the illegal trafficking of resources, illegal arms trafficking in violation of the United Nations embargos - are inextricably linked to the crimes that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.

12 - The ICC and the UN have been linked since 2004 through an agreement to which we attach great importance. This independent Court and the United Nations have broad areas of convergence. France believes that there can be no contradiction between the action to promote justice and the action to promote peace. The Rome Statute legally confirmed what we all knew politically: whether yesterday in Yugoslavia or Rwanda or today in Darfur, we do not negotiate with those responsible for genocide, we exclude them.

13 - This is a conviction that our Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, continuously defends, as he demonstrated once again this morning in his speech. Under his leadership, within the UN system, several actors, including Mrs. O’Brien, Legal Counsel, Mrs. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and Mrs. Walstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on ending Sexual Violence, have fully integrated the activities of the Court in their work and make them a positive factor in their respective fields.

14 - In the same way, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs, particularly in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, work with the Office of the Prosecutor to encourage the demobilization of soldiers when leaders are charged and arrested, as was recently the case in my country with Mr. Callixte Mbarushimana. The entire system should build upon this momentum.

Mr. President,

15 - A few months ago the Conference in Kampala allowed us, within the framework of reviewing the international criminal justice system, to address a range of topics that will be key to the future of the Court: peace and justice - which I just spoke about -, cooperation, victims and complementarity.

16 - Cooperation is of course central to the activities of this Assembly, as the European Union noted earlier. The positive aspects should be highlighted: In the Court’s report on cooperation, it specified that 85% of the Prosecutor’s requests for cooperation received favorable replies. It is also important to work on the difficult areas: arrests. Regardless of where the fugitives might be, our political and diplomatic support for the Court in this area is crucial.

17 - Victims are given particular importance in the ICC statutes. France worked in Rome to ensure that every aspect of their status be recognized: as victims filing petitions with the Prosecutor, as witnesses in need of adequate psychological support, as victims participating in the proceedings, as victims entitled to reparations and rehabilitation. Of course, their first right is to see that the criminals are arrested and justice is served. Here too, let us not lose sight of the core of our mission.

18 - With respect to the complementarity set forth by the Rome Statute, States have the primary responsibility to judge the perpetrators of crimes committed by their nationals or on their territory. The Court intervenes only as a Court of last resort.

19 - France has reservations concerning the idea of expanding the Court’s general role in developing national capabilities. Here we are moving away from the activities of a Registry or a Secretariat of the Assembly of States Parties. We hope that in the future, the discussions between the Court, States, civil society and UN bodies and programmes such as the UNDP could focus on how development agencies themselves can ensure that their assistance to national judicial systems is fully consistent with the requirements of the Rome Statute, rather than on ways to give the Court a greater role in this respect.

Mr. President,

20 -With respect to governance and the institutional strengthening of the Court, France has observed a certain amount of progress. President Song’s report on the relationships among court organs will be helpful in clarifying the responsibilities of the various bodies. Now this report must be implemented without interference from the States.

21 - The document naturally confirms the statutory independence of the Prosecutor’s Office, which should be obvious to all, but it is worth repeating it here. Clearly, we must oppose any attempt to trample on the jurisdictional prerogatives of the Prosecutor, or Judges. The independence of this Court is its principle strength. It is not up to us to welcome or deplore the decisions of the Prosecutor or the Judges. In addition, in order to ensure that Court’s internal oversight mechanisms are effective and fully respect the mandates of all organs, France considers it is necessary to wait for the overall mapping study requested by the external auditor and the Committee on Budget and Finance before making any specific decisions. We think it would be worthwhile for this Assembly to examine the scope of this study during this session.

Mr. President,

22 - Within this institutional framework, the Registry has an enormous responsibility. We are counting on Ms. Arbia to keep focused on her main role—which is the Court’s administrative service, in the highest sense of the term—within the framework of existing resources. It is out of question that the Court’s budget should increase exponentially with each new case, for the initial solutions instituted by the Court at the beginning of its operations to endure. Its years of experience must now enable the Registry to improve its efficiency. I am thinking in particular of outreach, public information and field presence. In its good report, the CBF, whose recommendations we approve, presented observations in this regard. We are also awaiting with interest a new strategy on field operations that would better take these demands into account.

Mr. President,

23- I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm France’s position on amendment adopted in Kampala.

24 - First, I would like to confirm here the difficulties with have on the amendment to article 8 in relation to expanding bullets.

25 - Furthermore, France did not associate itself with the text adopted in Kampala on the crime of aggression insofar as it disrespects the relevant provisions of the UN Charter, under which only the Security Council can determine the existence of any act of aggression.

26 - On the ratification procedure, France notes that in accordance with article 121-5 of the Rome Statute, no amendment is binding upon a State Party that has not ratified it. A State that is not planning to ratify the amendment on aggression is therefore not required to make a declaration pursuant to article 15 (bis) 4 to avoid being bound by the amendment.

27-Before concluding, Mr. President, I would like to thank you for your work as President of this Assembly and express the wish that our work may continue with the utmost transparency.

Thank you./.

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