On Wednesday October 17th the Security Council held an open debate on Peace and Justice, with a special focus on the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC). At the start of the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the Council, acknowledging the growing international demand for justice and the need for the Security Council and the ICC to work together as a means to strengthen the rule of law while maintaining both peace and security. Also addressing the Council at the start of the debate was Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court, and Mr. Phakiso Mochochoko of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. In honor of the tenth anniversary of the ICC, the Permanent Representative of Guatemala presented a concept note (document S/2012/731), which brought attention to the open debate's current agenda regarding the ICC and the council. Of the nearly 60 speakers addressing the council only five made gender references.
Gendered aspects of the relationship between the ICC and the Council were greatly neglected during the Council's open debate on the issue. France, in addition to Mr. Mochochoko, did address the link between sexual violence and conflict, while also further expanding on the role of ICC regarding such crimes. Both Lithuania and the European Union made direct reference to resolutions on women, peace, and security, discussing resolution 1325 and 1960. While referencing SC resolution 1325, Lithuania addressed the direct link between the Council and the ICC, and the need for both bodies to engage in a “regular exchange of views” as a more useful way to further cooperate on matters pertaining to women, peace and security issues. The European Union also addressed the direct link between the council and the ICC, referencing the role of the ICC regarding sexual violence in conflict and SC resolution 1960.
The failure to adequately address the gender dimension of the relationship between the Security Council and the promotion of the rule of law during the Security Council open debate is truly disappointing. It is seemingly apparent, not to mention imperative, for the council to create a more formal framework for interaction with the ICC when it comes to women, peace and security measures. The necessity for providing an accountability system, as described in SC resolution 1960, for addressing conflict-related sexual violence must be approached as a joint effort between the Council and the ICC. If the Council and the ICC are to work together to deliver justice and peace then both must implement and operationalize the resolutions passed on women, peace, and security.
The debate was predominately an open forum for the Council to address the role of its relationship with the ICC and the promotion of the rule of law and international peace and security. Many member states commended the achievements of the ICC in its relationship with the Council. Some, like the EU, advocated for greater cooperation between the Council and the ICC, while other member states, like China, called upon the UN Charter as the underpinning for the rule and law. China alluded to the need for the ICC to follow the Charter as a means to ensure the court not be “reduced to a tool” used by individual member states. Many member states, like India and Bolivia, highlighted the need for a collective ratification of the Rome Statute by all member states as a way to strengthen international law, end impunity, and end the politicization of international criminal justice institutions.
The Rome Statute of the ICC currently has 139 signatories and 121 ratifications. Of the five permanent Security Council members, only France, in 2000, and the United Kingdom, in 2001, have officially ratified the Rome Statute. Russia, China, and the United States have not ratified the statute.
Member states who spoke at the open debate included: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Czech Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Honduras, Japan, Lesotho, Liechtenstein (on behalf of the former Presidents of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court), Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Timor-Leste (on behalf of Samoa), Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom, and United States.
Other speakers included: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court, Mr. Phakiso Mochochoko of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
*Bolded speaker referenced gender