June 24, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus to the 6th Committee Ambassador Andreas Jacovides on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus has been associated with the position of the European Union, put forward yesterday, by the distinguished representative of Belgium. My brief statement will include some observations from the present vantage point on issues which are of particular interest to us.

Mr. Chairman, it is a source of great satisfaction to my delegation to note the great progress made by the Preparatory Commission in the past two sessions during the current year in terms of substance and we are grateful to Ambassador Philippe Kirsch and his collaborators for their efforts. Appreciation is also due to the NGO’s and the Representatives of civil society for their valuable contribution and assistance. Draft texts were approved on the Relationship Agreement between the Court and the United Nations, the Financial Regulations, the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court, and the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly of States Parties, in addition to the ground covered earlier, notably on the Elements of Crimes, which include such vital issues as article 8(2)(b)(viii) on the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies.

We are not yet at the end of the road and much work is still needed during the coming year on such practical issues as the Principles Governing a Headquarters Agreement and the draft First Year Budget. Moreover, the definition of the crime of aggression, which is an essential element of the Court’s jurisdiction, despite many commendable efforts, is still pending. While General Assembly Resolution 3314 (1974), reached by consensus after many years of work provides a sound basis, the issue is understandably complicated in the context of international criminal law by the role of the Security Council under the Charter and possibly of the International Court of Justice and will thus require additional time and effort to be resolved satisfactorily.

Mr. Chairman, the atrocious acts of 11 September, which in our view would come squarely within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court under “crimes against humanity”, serve as a reminder that those who commit such crimes must be held responsible and underline the need for the ICC to come into existence at the earliest possible time. With 139 signatures and, so far, 46 ratifications, it can be realistically hoped that the Rome Treaty for an International Criminal Court will come into force as early as next year (four years after it was concluded in 1998 as compared, for instance, with the Law of the Sea Convention, which took twelve years to reach the same stage, from 1982 to 1994) and the first Assembly of the States Parties may well take place at UN Headquarters soon thereafter.

This may be an appropriate time to pay tribute to such pioneers of this cherished objective as the then Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Hans Dietrich Gensher and the then Prime Minister and now President of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Arthur Robinson, for advocating its creation more than ten years ago. May I also recall that Cyprus, in all possible forums – including the Sixth Committee, the International Law Commission and such specialized conferences as at Talloires and Courmayer – was one of the earliest advocates and pioneers of international criminal jurisdiction and the establishment of an effective permanent international criminal court, in preference to ad hoc criminal tribunals – as an instrument of deterrence and punishment of international crime in its various manifestations, at a time when the very idea was ignored as unrealistic and even scoffed at as inappropriate. In the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Nicosia in 1993, the President of Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides, took the lead in proposing the establishment of a permanent international criminal court and has consistently advocated it in successive statements in the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, most recently in his statement two days ago, on 11 November of this year.

During the elaboration of the text of the draft statute by the International Law Commission, the Preparatory Committee, the Rome Conference and at the present stage of the Preparatory Commission,, we as one of the “like-minded states”, have done our modest best to see this major undertaking come to fruition. We voted for and promptly signed the draft statute of the Court in Rome and have taken the necessary steps for its ratification – to take place, we hope, in the very near future.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me reiterate our full commitment, as indeed is the European Union to which we aspire to belong, to the integrity of the Rome Statute in all its aspects and to an effective, functioning and credible ICC in close relationship with the United Nations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.