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International Criminal Court

The consolidation of the rule of law, respect for human rights, peacekeeping and the strengthening of international security are essential values for the European Union (EU). It is for this reason that the Union is deeply committed to cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to put an end to the impunity of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes affecting the international community.

ACT

Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP of 21 March 2011 on the International Criminal Court and repealing Common Position 2003/444/CFSP.

SUMMARY

The objective of this Council Decision is to advance universal support for the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to preserve its integrity, independence and smooth functioning. The European Union (EU) intends to support cooperation with the ICC and the implementation of the principle of complementarity. Pursuant to this principle, the Court only prosecutes if Member States do not have the willingness or capacity to do so.

The ICC is an independent international organisation based in The Hague (Netherlands). Its task is to try the perpetrators of genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC is governed by a treaty, the Rome Statute, which entered into force on 1 July 2002 and has been ratified by all EU Member States.

Advancing universal support

The Union and its Member States undertake to increase participation in the Rome Statute. They may advance this process through negotiations and political dialogue with third countries or regional organisations. In addition, they may adopt initiatives to promote the values, principles and provisions of the Statute. In order to meet this objective, the EU and its Member States are to cooperate with other States, international institutions and certain non-governmental organisations.

The Member States shall share their experience with the countries in question as regards the implementation of the Rome Statute. They and the EU may contribute technical or financial assistance to such countries. The assistance provided should facilitate participation in the Statute and its implementation.

Guaranteeing independence

In order to ensure the independence of the ICC, the Union and its Member States shall:

  • encourage States Parties to pay their contribution to the budget of the Court;
  • support the development of training and assistance for judges, prosecutors, officials and counsel in work related to the ICC;
  • encourage accession to and ratification of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Court.

Supporting efficient functioning

The Union and the Member States may enter into specific arrangements or agreements to support the efficient functioning of the ICC.

Several States Parties to the Rome Statute have concluded bilateral agreements with the United States guaranteeing that American citizens are not transferred to appear before the Court. The Council refers to its conclusions of 30 September 2002 establishing guidelines for Member States that are considering signing such agreements:

  • existing international agreements between a State Party to the Court and the United States should be taken into account;
  • in their current form, the conclusion of such agreements are inconsistent with the obligations of the Member States of the Court;
  • arrangements adopted must ensure that persons who have committed crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the Court do not enjoy impunity;
  • arrangements relating to the nationality of persons not to be surrendered should only cover persons who are not nationals of an ICC State Party;
  • State and diplomatic immunity should be respected;
  • agreements should only cover persons present in a State because they have been sent there by their country of origin;
  • agreements may be limited in time;
  • agreements must be ratified in accordance with the constitutional procedures of each Member State.

The Council also proposes to develop broader political dialogue with the United States, which would cover, in particular:

  • any returns to the United States under Court process;
  • the development of cooperation between the United States and the Court in specific cases;
  • the application of waivers of United States legislation on the protection of members of the American administration (ASPA legislation).

Context

In February 2004, the Council adopted an action plan defining a framework for Union activities aimed at supporting the International Criminal Court. Currently being re-examined, it covers three areas: the coordination of Union activities, the universal nature and integrity of the Rome Statue, and the independence and smooth functioning of the Court.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Decision 2011/168/CFSP

21.3.2011

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OJ L 76, 22.3.2011

RELATED ACTS

Agreement on cooperation and assistance between the International Criminal Court and the European Union [Official Journal L 115 of 28.4.2006].
This agreement covers the terms of cooperation and assistance between the International Criminal Court and the European Union, by means, inter alia, of consultation on issues of mutual interest and the regular exchange of information and documents of mutual interest.

Last updated: 07.06.2011
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