Statement by Helga Hrönn Karlsdóttir, Legal Adviser
Directorate for Legal & Executive Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs
ICC Assembly of States Parties 22nd session, 7 December 2023
It is a privilege to address this Assembly on behalf of Iceland. Allow me to express Iceland’s sincere appreciation to the Court and its officials, in all organs.
I would like to congratulate and welcome the six newly elected judges to the Court. Iceland believes that the due diligence process is an important step.
This year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute. Iceland expresses its continued support for, and commitment to the ICC, and emphasizes the need to improve and strengthen the Court in all its functions. In the face of threats and attacks on the Court, its staff and those who work with the Court, support from States Parties is more important than ever.
Iceland ratified the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression in 2016 and this year marks the 5th anniversary of the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The jurisdiction is however limited to when both states concerned have ratified the Amendment or when the Security Council refers a case to the Court. It is undeniable that the international community is facing serious challenges at this moment in time, including Russia´s full scale invasion of Ukraine. These challenges have highlighted the fact we need to remove obstacles limiting the Court’s ability to deliver justice for the crime of aggression.
Iceland acknowledges the vital role of the Security Council within the Rome Statute system and its ability to refer cases to the Court where the ICC lacks jurisdiction. We regret that the Security Council has not made full use of its mandate to refer cases to the Court when jurisdiction is lacking.
The ICC must be empowered to achieve its primary goal of providing justice for victims and survivors. Iceland highly values the role of the Trust Fund for Victims and by now contributes annually. We believe all efforts of the Court should build on a victim-survivor oriented approach, emphasizing the rights and agency of individuals involved.
Iceland welcomes the Office of the Prosecutor’s commitment to systematically address sexual and gender-based crimes and in taking a more focused approach to investigating and prosecuting for crimes rooted in misogyny and queerphobia. Furthermore, we welcome the new Policy on Gender Based Violence.
Further, we would like to highlight the importance of civil society organisations to the Courts functioning. Human right defenders and civil societies are often at the forefront of gathering evidence on violations of international law. It is unacceptable that these organizations face threats and harassment.
Iceland reaffirms its unwavering support for the ICC as an independent and impartial judicial institution. Political and financial support for the Court is essential. Iceland stresses the need for sustainable resources across situations and cases. Regular allocation from all States Parties is essential, as the Courts workload continues to rise to unforeseen heights. We urge all States Parties to pay the annual contributions on time. Iceland is now in the process of making a third voluntary additional, unearmarked contribution in less than two years time, the latest one to be made following calls for resources in light of developments in the Middle East. However, we want to stress that the Court should not be dependent on voluntary contributions.
The international community bears a shared responsibility to maintain justice and to prevent impunity. Therefore, we strongly encourage all states to ratify the Rome Statute and join as States Parties.
To conclude, Iceland reiterates unwavering support and gratitude for the Court, its elected officials and its personnel and our commitment to defend the principles enshrined in the Rome Statute.
I thank you.