Let me, first and foremost, thank the outgoing President, Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, the Vice Presidents and the entire bureau for the invaluable contribution you all have made to this Assembly of States Parties in the past three years.
It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with you in this capacity. On behalf of Germany, I would like to thank the ASP President and Vice Presidents very much for their strong and expert leadership and the thoughtful and considerate manner with which they have chaired this august Assembly.
I would also like to use this opportunity to congratulate your successor, Ambassador Päivi Kaukoronta, of Finland as President-elect – and to wish her the very best of success in her work in the coming three years!
Finally, I would like to congratulate the six new judges of the ICC we elected at this State Assembly. It is to them we look to uphold international criminal justice, to end impunity, to hold individual perpetrators responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genozide or the crime of aggression and to bring justice to the victims.
The International Criminal Court is at a crucial moment in its still young history. Only in July did we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ICC here at the UN Headquarters. And we can justly be proud of its achievements. It was a monumental step for justice when the Rome Statute was agreed.
However, we need to make sure, that the ICC is in a position to respond to the increasing challenges to international criminal justice.
Germany aligns itself with the statement by the EU. Please allow me to make five additional points:
First: We are faced with a world of multiple crises. This is reflected in the increasing importance and work load of the Court. Politics now more than ever turn to the ICC for accountability, justice and an end to impunity, to respond to horrible crimes beyond words. Justice matters. International Criminal law matters. Justice is rightly expected to be served by the ICC.
With the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the Gaza conflict and the most serious situation in the Middle East, the Court and this Assembly must answer to fundamental questions of international criminal law.
One of these questions, of course, is: Does the Rome Statute and do the Kampala Amendments already contain a sufficient response to the Crime of Aggression? Or must we not undertake the effort to review the Rome Statute and possibly the Kampala Amendments for it to more adequately respond to an act of Aggression against one of the States Parties?
Germany has answered that question in the affirmative: We must undertake this effort to not only further develop the Rome Statute, but to ultimately strengthen international criminal law, and, hence, this International Criminal Court.
As you are aware, Germany is in favor of an in-depth discussion on this issue among States Parties well ahead of the review of the Kampala amendments that this Assembly foresaw for 2025, which is seven years after the decision to activate the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.
We are also well aware and engaged in other aspects of reform of the Rome Statute. We call upon all States Parties to participate in this discussion – we will gladly contribute to it ourselves.
Second, for the Court to fully exercise its functions, it is of the utmost importance that it be protected from all external threats. We condemn in the strongest terms any attack on the Court – especially the cyber attacks the Court had to experience recently and the threat made to its independent Judges by means of Russian arrest warrants. As States Parties, we must stand together to protect the Court from all such threats. The security of the Courts IT systems and infrastructure and the protection of the confidential data, inter alia evidence and personal information of the Court’s employees and witnesses have to be assured as a priority.
Third, we value the broadest possible support for the Court and its Assembly of States Parties and as such welcome Armenia as a new Member State. The ICC benefits from a balanced regional and geographical representation, the balance of gender, and just contributions States Parties allocate to the Court. As Assembly of State Parties it is our responsibility to provide the Court with the means, the personnel and financial resources and – above all – the political will and support it needs to deliver justice and end impunity.
Fourth: The perspective of the victims in receiving justice is complementary to the perpetrators’ being brought to justice. To this end, the Court’s victim-centered approach remains of the essence. In order to foster this approach and to lend support to the victims of crimes committed, Germany has been a long-standing contributor to the Trust Fund for Victims. Today, we are especially glad we could support reparations in the Katanga case, which were successfully concluded recently.
And, finally: It is our declared and common goal as States Parties to establish the International Criminal Court as a beacon of international justice. That requires inter alia efficient proceedings. To that end, it is of fundamental importance to strike the right balance between broad investigations and the output of indictments and charges, so that verdicts can be rendered in due time.
“Justice delayed can amount to justice denied” – therefore, as States Parties, we must do our utmost to equip the Court with all means to achieve justice in a timely and effective manner. Germany stands ready to support the Court in any and all efforts to achieve that noble goal.
From its very beginning, Germany has been a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court – politically, financially, and with personnel. We will continue to do so – and we remain convinced that this Court will find the right answers to the many challenges this world in turmoil poses to international peace and justice.