New York, New York
October 31, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, President Hofmanski, for your briefing and for your leadership as President of the International Criminal Court.
As noted in the Court’s report on developments between August 2021 and August 2022, the Court’s trial activity is now at an unprecedented level. The ICC has significantly advanced justice for victims around the world, including for situations in which the ICC was invited to act by national governments. The United States welcomed the opening of trial in April in the case against a former Janjaweed commander, known as Ali Kushayb. This marked the first trial against any senior leader for crimes committed by the Omar al-Bashir regime and government-supported forces following the genocide and other atrocities in Darfur.
The ICC has also made meaningful progress in advancing justice for atrocities committed in the Central African Republic; the United States commends the ICC for progress on those cases and for closely coordinating with CAR national authorities in the Special Criminal Court of CAR. The ongoing trials against Alfred Yekatom, Patrice Ngaisonna, and Mahamat Said Abdel Kani for crimes against humanity and war crimes represent a strong blow against impunity.
The ICC’s activities in situations around the world underscore its important role as a key piece of the global architecture for accountability – and a reminder of the imperative for justice, even when it may take time to achieve. With regard to the situation in Mali, the Court continued the trial against the individual known as “Al Hassan,” on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Timbuktu between 2012 and 2013. As well, the Prosecutor has opened investigations into the situation in Venezuela, and the United States welcomes the OTP’s ongoing efforts.
I must also address the horrific war in Ukraine, where civilians face brutal attacks on a daily basis carried out by Russia’s forces. The United States supports a range of international investigations into atrocities in Ukraine, including those conducted by the ICC, the United Nations, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We will continue to stand with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression and in seeking justice and accountability.
While commending the achievements of ICC over the past year, the United States is troubled by the large number of outstanding arrest warrants, a matter that should concern all states. Individuals subject to warrants of arrest by the ICC must face justice before fair, independent, and credible judicial proceedings. The United States continues to encourage the authorities in Sudan to transfer suspects to the Court; and we continue to offer monetary rewards for information leading to the arrest of Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, to provide justice for victims of the LRA. We call on all states to cooperate in ensuring that Nouradine Adam, accused of crimes against humanity in CAR, faces justice.
The ICC plays an important role in relation to broader efforts to seek justice for atrocity crimes. Across the world, a range of national, hybrid, and other international tribunals are also making progress in the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes. This includes the commencement of the trial against Felicien Kabuga, indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals; the opening of trials in CAR’s Special Criminal Court; the war crimes convictions in Ukrainian national courts; and the increasing prosecutions by national authorities, including in Germany, of atrocities committed in other states, such as Syria.
Such efforts, especially where prosecutions are not possible before international courts or courts in the jurisdiction where the crimes were committed, ensure there is no safe haven for those responsible for crimes that shock the conscience of humankind. National systems must be the first and foremost venue for accountability, and the United States continues to assist countries to build their own domestic capacity in this regard.
Turning back to the ICC, the United States is pleased to announce that we intend to participate in the upcoming Assembly of States Parties, as an Observer Delegation. As the Court reflects on its first 20 years and charts a course for its future, the United States is committed to engaging with States Parties, the Court, and others to ensure the Court achieves its core mission as a court of last resort in punishing and deterring atrocity crimes. While we maintain our concerns about the ICC in certain areas that are well-known, we believe our concerns are best addressed through engagement with all stakeholders.
We strongly commend all organs of the Court, States Parties, civil society, and victims who have engaged over the past years in considering a broad review to address issues to help the Court better achieve its core mandate, including those identified by the Independent Expert Review of the ICC.
Justice is not only a moral imperative, but it is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security. The United States is a strong supporter of meaningful accountability and justice for the victims of atrocities. These are core values, best advanced through a shared commitment, and the ICC is an integral component of that shared commitment to justice.
Thank you, Mr. President.