December 16, 2017

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the 53rd Session of the General Assembly on the Eastablishment of an International Criminal Court

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation has aligned itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Austria on behalf of the European Union. Nonetheless, I would like to briefly mention a number of points which are of particular importance to us.

Let me first express our satisfaction with the outcome of the Rome Conference on the Establishment of the International Criminal Court. This historical event is certainly at the forefront of a new era for the universal prevalence of justice.

Cyprus strongly supported the establishment of a Permanent International Criminal Court as it firmly believes that the universal respect for humanitarian values is a prerequisite for the prevalence of universal justice and peace.

Back in 1993, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Cyprus, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides called for the rapid establishment of such a Court. This has received positive response by the other participants who “recognized that the successful culmination of this initiative could provide the International Community with an important instrument against international crime”.

The tragic experience of the two world wars and the genocides that have marked our country as well as continuing commission of atrocities and heinous crimes have shown the necessity for an effective permanent international machinery to ensure the respect of human rights and to bring an end to a culture of impunity which has seen so many cruelties and atrocities go unpunished.

Cyprus supports an effective, truly independent criminal court capable of carrying out effectively its mandate.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite the efforts during the Rome Conference to include the crime of aggression, which is the source of so many violations of human rights, among the crimes under the immediate jurisdiction of the Court, this aim has unfortunately not been achieved for reasons which leave us with some perplexity, as it was clear that the overwhelming majority of States strongly wished such inclusion. However, we believe and hope that the Preparatory Commission will take up this matter, study it, and produce a definition for aggression as well as work out the conditions under which the International Criminal Court is to exercise its jurisdiction with regard to this crime as expressly provided for in the final act of the Rome Conference.

I also wish to stress once more the importance our delegation attaches to the inclusion in the Statute of the crime described in the second paragraph of Article 8 that is the direct or indirect transfer by an Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

We equally attach particular importance to attacks directed against places of worship, historic monuments, hospitals and buildings dedicated to education, art, science or charitable purposes as described in Article 8.2(b)(ix). Moreover, the establishment of settlers in an occupied territory and the unlawful deportation of the population of that territory with the view of changing the demographic composition of the said territory are crimes that directly fall under the provisions of Article 7.1(d) on crimes against humanity and Article 8.2(a)(vii) and (b)(viii) on war crimes.

Cyprus which is itself a victim of aggression, of continued military occupation, of colonization of the occupied areas and of systematic destruction of its cultural heritage by the occupying power cannot but denounce such crimes wherever they occur and welcome their inclusion in the jurisdiction of the ICC .

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court on 15 October 1998 and hopes for its rapid coming into force. I wish to assure you that we will give full support to the new Court and will spare no effort to facilitate the work of the Preparatory Commission. In conclusion, I note that the message given by the adoption of the Statute is a message of hope that the International Community is much closer today to the prevalence of a new international legal order, based on justice and respect of human rights.

Thank Mr. Chairman.