Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 77: Report of the International Criminal Court

(As delivered)
Mr. President,
 
Let me begin by thanking President Chile Eboe-Osuji for his leadership, as well as for the powerful statement he just made on the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
 
Japan is committed to the fight against impunity and attaches great significance to the promotion of the rule of law. Therefore Japan has consistently supported the ICC since its inception. My government’s longstanding policy is to help enable the ICC to function effectively and sustainably with the support of the international community. Besides being the ICC's largest financial contributor, we Japan, is also dedicated to supporting the Court through qualified human resources, including judges.
 
Mr. President,
 
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. While the ICC has made steady progress in investigating and prosecuting the most serious crimes of international concern, there is still a long way to go. I would like to stress two points for strengthening the Court.
 
First, to ensure that the ICC effectively promotes the rule of law around the world, the ICC should enhance its universality. In the long run, the ICC should aim at becoming a truly universal criminal court so that it can gain strong support for its work. It is unfortunate that there are still about a third of the UN Members States that have yet to conclude the Rome Statute. Moreover, some States Parties have either chosen to withdraw from the Statute or considered doing so. Japan acknowledges that there are various concerns surrounding the ICC. The ICC and its States Parties should continue to listen carefully to those concerns expressed and make efforts to enhance the ICC’s universality in order to maximize support and cooperation from a greater number of States.
 
For its part, Japan has been advocating the value of the ICC, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan hosted this year’s annual session of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) earlier this month and organized an outreach event involving non-States Parties from Asia Pacific region, and Africa region as well, with the participation of the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), ICC judges and other ICC officials. We need to continue engaging with non-States Parties and emphasizing the important value of the Rome Statute system in the fight against impunity.
 
Secondly, I would like to stress that the role of the ICC is to complement national criminal jurisdiction. The existence of the Court does not change the importance of national jurisdiction in the prosecution of serious crimes. In that context, capacity building for legal institutions in each State countries carries significant weight not only to facilitate the work of the Court but also to ensure justice and the rule of law. Such capacity building is an important component of Japan’s aid efforts. Japan strongly believes that those efforts will help to close the impunity gap and advance the rule of law in the long run.
 
In closing, we hope that the ICC will continue to work diligently in the fight against impunity, while consolidating its credibility. Japan will continue to strongly support the ICC’s work.
 
Thank you.