Day of International Criminal Justice: Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union

Every 17th of July we commemorate the historic adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998, as an important moment to reflect on the importance of fighting impunity and bringing justice for the victims of the most serious crimes: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As the world’s first and only permanent international criminal court, the International Criminal Court plays a crucial role in a shared rules-based global order and in advancing the fight against impunity for international crimes. Despite this crucial role, its work and independence continue to be frequently challenged.

The European Union is committed to protect the judicial independence of the ICC and the integrity of the Rome Statute. We stand firm against any attempt to discredit the Court and obstruct its work.

We will work together with the Court and all States to make the ICC stronger and more effective, including through the ongoing process of review of the Court’s functioning, while ensuring that the core principles and values embodied in the Rome Statute are upheld and protected.

The European Union will continue to provide diplomatic, political and financial support to the ICC, to allow it to carry out effectively its vital work on behalf of victims of grave international crimes. Moreover, the EU and its Member States will continue their work in favour of the universal ratification and full implementation of the Rome Statute.

The  ICC  can only fulfil its mandate with the active engagement, co-operation and support of the States Parties. The EU calls on all States to cooperate with the ICC and abide by their commitments to uphold the rule of law, whether at the ICC or in their national courts.

Today we also pay tribute to the many committed and courageous individuals who work in the field of international justice and who are seeking justice for atrocity crimes. In this context, we would like to thank Ms. Fatou Bensouda for her determined and dedicated work as Prosecutor and, previously, Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC during the last 17 years. At the same time, we welcome the assumption of office of Mr. Karim Khan as Prosecutor of the ICC on 16 June and reiterate our support to the work of the Office of the Prosecutor. Furthermore, civil society and human rights defenders play a crucial role in ensuring that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are exposed, documented and denounced. By doing so, they valuably contribute to the protection of victims of international crimes and of their rights.

The day of international criminal justice reminds us that we need to continue working, at both national and international levels, to strengthen the system of international criminal justice. We must ensure that the perpetrators of the most serious crimes are brought to justice and held to account. We owe it to the victims of these atrocious crimes.

Impunity must not be an option. Nowhere. For no one.