Nordic statement on Strengthening Accountability and Justice for Serious Violations of International Law
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden - and my own country - Denmark.
It is appalling to hear reports of atrocity crimes continuously being committed around the world.
Genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross violations of international law can never be excused.
Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine has once again reminded us of the importance of an international response to atrocities. We have witnessed indiscriminate killings of civilians as well as sexual and gender-based violence and attacks on civilian infrastructure, including on schools and hospitals. Conflict-related sexual violence and rape are a blatant violation of human rights and may constitute war crimes. It is not an inevitable by-product of war, but a crime that can be prevented and must be punished.
We strongly urge Russia to comply with the legally binding order of the International Court of Justice of 16th March and immediately suspend their military operations in Ukraine.
We fully support the investigation by the ICC prosecutor into the situation in Ukraine as well as national investigations. All perpetrators must be held accountable.
Important work is also carried out on the ground by several actors, including the OHCHR and civil society to collect and preserve evidence.
We also welcome accountability initiatives such as the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine and the activation of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism.
The Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine will continue to support these efforts.
Atrocities are not contained to the war in Ukraine. It is equally important to continue the fight for accountability in Sudan, Syria, Myanmar, Ethiopia and elsewhere. Victims of atrocities deserve justice everywhere.
Criminal responsibility for the most serious international crimes must be achieved through the domestic and international prosecution of the individuals responsible. We are unwavering in our support for the International Criminal Court.
We are also committed to the elaboration of a Convention on crimes against humanity, which would give States the necessary additional tools to prevent and punish such crimes at national level.
The Security Council is entrusted with the primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. In fulfilling its mandate, it must respond decisively to atrocity crimes wherever they occur.
The use of veto in the Council is unacceptable in the context of atrocity crimes.
We welcome the resolution on the veto-initiative adopted by the General Assembly in April, which is a step in the right direction.
We fully support and urge other UN members to join initiatives to limit the use of veto in this context, including the ACT-code of conduct and the French/Mexican initiative.
The Security Council also has the power to advance accountability by referring situations to the ICC. We urge the Council also to look into further ways it can support the work of the ICC, in particular in relation to the situations it has referred to the Court.
Our ultimate goal must be to prevent atrocity crimes from happening in the first place. Rigorous compliance with international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law, is the only way to achieve this.
As enshrined in the responsibility to protect, the primary responsibility lies with the State to protect its populations from atrocity crimes. When atrocities do occur, accountability must be ensured to help prevent these crimes from happening again and deliver justice to victims. I assure you that the Nordic countries are steadfast supporters in the global fight against impunity.
I thank you.