Silence from the global community on a “direct assault” on the international criminal justice system by “ill-wishers” is not tactical and sends the wrong signal, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor has warned.
Such a silence permits authors of such policies to believe they have free reign to proceed unchecked and allows the unthinkable to become the new normal, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has warned.
Dr Bensouda, who was addressing a 20th anniversary event for the ICC at NUI Galway last night, spoke of her concern about a “clash and crisis of fundamental values”.
Recently, her request to initiate investigations in Afghanistan was denied by judges of an ICC pre-trial chamber.
Dr Bensouda said her office was told that “an investigation into this situation would not be in the interests of justice, taking into account, notably, insufficient prospects for a successful investigation”.
She continues to pursue the issue.
To date, her office in The Hague has requested and obtained public arrest warrants or summonses to appear against 45 suspects, while 15 suspects in six different situations remain at large, she said.
“All these arrest warrants are important, and efforts at securing their arrest are ongoing,” said Dr Bensouda.
However, the court relies on the support of states, and without arrests there are no trials.
She said a zero-sum unilateral approach may result in short-term gain but is sure to issue in long-term net loss.
Dr Bensouda appealed to the international community to ensure “costly advances we have made in international criminal justice” do not “regress”.
“As I stand before you, we continue to find ourselves increasingly confronted with threats to multilateralism and the post-World War Two rules-based global order where the sanctity of sovereignty is misappropriated in the service of exceptionalism and a rejection of international law and the international rule of law,” said Dr Bensouda.
She paid tribute to Ireland for its “leadership”.
The International Criminal Court, seated in The Hague, is the world’s principal court for the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression.
The prosecutor plays a pivotal role in investigating and prosecuting serious atrocities and has overseen investigations of alleged crimes in countries such as Libya, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Georgia.