STATEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
78 – Report of the International Criminal Court (01 August 2014 – 31 July 2015)
Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Friday, 06 November 2015
Mr President, your excellencies, colleagues:
The Philippines would like to thank Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court, for her comprehensive report to the General Assembly.
Mr President, that individuals can be made accountable for international crimes has been a defining achievement of international law. In Nuremburg, it was decided that "crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced."
Seventy years ago in San Francisco, our founding fathers and mothers adopted a text that created this very organization. Their prayer remains as relevant as it is eloquent – to save us, and those after us, from the scourge of war which twice in their lifetime brought untold sorrow to all humanity.
Arguably, the United Nations is the best thing that happened to the rule of law, of international law. Among its many achievements, the UN through the International Law Commission and the initiative of Trinidad & Tobago in 1989 recognized the growing clamor for a permanent international criminal court. The long campaign culminated in the UN diplomatic conference leading to the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998, its entry into force in 2002, and the election of the first bench of judges in 2003.
Today, the Philippines reaffirms its commitment to fighting impunity, to ensuring that perpetrators account for their crimes. For if we cannot deliver international criminal justice, then global peace and security would not be possible.
The International Criminal Court has become central to the majesty of the rule of law in our time.
Mr President, just as Nuremburg pointed to individuals as authors of untold sorrow and injustice to multitudes, so must we recognize individuals who contribute to the collective work of delivering international justice, a vocation that is certainly difficult, sometimes thankless and possibly dangerous. They include members of the Secretariat across the UN family involved in the delivery of justice; the judges of the Court led by President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi; Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda; the staff of both the Court and the Prosecutor; President Sidiki Kaba of the Assembly of States Parties and his team; and the lawyers, civil society advocates, witnesses and victims, many of whom are unnamed and unsung.
Indeed, it is people, individually – then collectively – who make justice work.
The Philippines pays close attention to the increasingly heavy workload of the Court – its pending judicial proceedings, situations, and preliminary examinations. Developments in the work of the Court and of the Prosecutor concern us as a State Party. Consistent with the principle of complementarity, and as part of our duty of cooperation, we strive to ensure that our criminal justice system is transparent, fair, effective and relatively speedy, allowing for the prosecution of the crimes under the Rome Statute. The Philippine legislation enacted in 2009 on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity (Republic Act No. 9851) paved the way for our ratification of the Rome Statute.
The Philippines supports the “Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes”, elaborated in the context of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group under the leadership of Liechtenstein. The P5 should refrain from using their veto in situations involving mass atrocity crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court. We also call on the Security Council to take the necessary follow-up measures on situations it has referred to the Court, so as to uphold the credibility of both institutions and to ensure accountability.
The Philippines also supports the mainstreaming of the work of the Court in the UN system, including in the work of UN-Women as a follow-up to Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
States Parties or not, we should help each other to protect human rights and build domestic capacities, including through human resource development-related assistance like the training of judges, prosecutors, the police and the military.
The Philippines would like to take this opportunity to thank once again the States Parties for their confidence in the abilities of Prof. Dr. Raul Pangalangan to contribute to the work of the Court, and for electing him as a judge for the next six years.
Mr President, our goal is universality. We join the call for many more countries to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute, particularly from our Asia-Pacific region.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development now defines our global development framework. We will achieve that agenda only if we have peace – and security – based on justice, for our generation and for generations yet to come.
Thank you, Mr President.