Statement by H.E. Mr. Kazuo Kodama
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On the Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law
in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security
17 October 2012
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the Security Council on the important theme of the rule of law and international peace and security.
Japan firmly believes that the rule of law is the basic concept for the maintenance of international peace and security and it plays a pivotal role in the prevention of and attainment of peaceful solutions to international disputes. In this regard, Japan continues to attach great importance to the role of the international courts such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The ICC in particular, plays an important role in the maintenance of international peace and security through punishing and preventing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. Since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute, it is very timely that we review the achievements of the ICC over the past ten years and consider the future development of the ICC. On this very day, my government is hosting a symposium in Tokyo on the ICC with participation by the ICC Prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the ICC.
Japan notes with appreciation that the ICC has started its full activities, exemplified in its very first judgment on the case of Lubanga in March this year. On the other hand, one of the major challenges the ICC has faced in its 10-year history is how to bring justice to war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the territory of a non-States Party to the Rome Statute. In this regard, the ICC experienced the cases of Darfur and Libya, where the situations were referred to the ICC by Security Council resolutions. Japan appreciates these decisions by the Security Council and its positive collaboration with the ICC.
Acts of violence and oppression against innocent civilians and other serious violations of human rights in Syria must not be tolerated in the context of the rule of law. It is totally with reason that there is a call for a referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC. However, the essential problem lies in the regrettable fact that the Security Council is divided in terms of dealing with such a grave problem as the current situation in Syria and has failed to respond in an effective manner. Japan strongly calls upon the members of this Council to recognize their duty as the organ which has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
The ICC is an organ working to bring justice based on the rule of law, but decisions made by the Security Council, whose primary role is to maintain international peace and security, are rather political in essence. Therefore, if this Council refers a situation to the ICC, it is not for purely legal reasons. Still, Japan believes that the Security Council should give due consideration not only to the viewpoint of contributing to a peaceful solution on a particular situation but also as a deterrent for future crimes by bringing justice.
It is also important that the Security Council continues to be duly engaged even after its referral to the ICC in order to make the referral truly effective. If a lack of cooperation by the Security Council results in the failure to indict a perpetrator of serious crimes, it undermines the credibility of both the Council and the ICC. I would like to point out that once the Security Council makes a decision of referral, its members bear moral responsibility to cooperate with the ICC, even if they are non-States Parties to the Rome Statute. Japan expects the dialogue and cooperation will deepen between the Security Council and the ICC in general and on the financial implications of referral as well.
Japan, as the leading contributor to the ICC, expects that the court will further contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security as a more effective, efficient and universal organ. Japan calls upon all States Parties to fully cooperate with the ICC in accordance with their obligation under the Rome Statute and also encourages all non-States Parties to accede to the ICC expeditiously. Japan is also determined to continue its efforts to promote the accession to the ICC by other countries, in particular those in the Asia-Pacific region, by extending assistance for the development of legal systems and human resources.
I thank you, Mr. President.