Statement by Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, Regarding Stocktaking at the Eighth Resumed Session of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court

Stephen J. Rapp
Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues 
New York, NY
March 23, 2010


Thank you, Madame Coordinator.  Let me join with others in recognizing the outstanding leadership of the Chairman.  The US delegation also wishes to express our appreciation for the important work that has been undertaken by the focal points who are preparing the stocktaking programs of the Kampala Review Conference. In particular we are pleased that the panels will include persons with experience at the ad hoc tribunals, international courts that have tried almost two hundred individuals in the last dozen years.  We believe that lessons from their experiences can be applied to advance the pursuit of justice at the International Criminal Court.  

My own government, which has provided strong and steadfast support for ad hoc tribunals established since the 1990s, hopes that our experience could be of some value to the ICC, for example, in identifying ways to enhance effective cooperation, particularly when it comes to ensuring that those who are now the subject of an arrest warrant are brought before the bar of justice. 

But we also recognize that it is the Court officials themselves who know what assistance is needed.  The Obama Administration would therefore like to meet with the Prosecutor and other officials at the International Criminal Court to examine ways that the United States might be able to support the efforts of the ICC that are already underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Central African Republic, and Uganda.  We believe that the ICC must successfully conclude the cases it has launched, that it must keep faith with the victims for whom it must achieve justice. 

The United States also looks forward to contributing to the program on “positive complementarity,” which will explore ways to catalyze and assist in broader efforts of societies ravaged by violence to strengthen their own systems of protection and accountability.  The United States is actively engaged in capacity-building and rule-of-law assistance programs around the world, and we have a strong interest in ensuring that our efforts complement the activities of the States parties and of the ICC itself.

While these topics were addressed yesterday, I hope I can add here that the United States also looks forward to sharing our own experiences and “lessons learned” when it comes to meeting the expectations of victims and reconciling the demands of peace and justice in situations where special care is needed to realize both core values without compromising either.  With respect to the former, I must say how pleased I am that the session will benefit from the participation of my former colleague, Binta Mansaray, now Registrar of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, who developed one of the most effective programs of outreach to victims and affected communities of any international tribunal.  
This afternoon my colleague Harold Koh will be addressing matters related to the proposed amendments on the Crime of Aggression, and we are grateful for the opportunity to engage with the States parties on both sets of issues.  We are hopeful that the Court and this Assembly will continue on the productive path of the Court's early years, and that we will be able to identify specific ways to assist the Court in meeting its historic mandate to provide justice for those innocent men, women and children who have been murdered, and raped, and mutilated—who suffered from crimes that shock the conscience of all humanity.  Even as a non-party State, the United States hopes and believes that it can be a valuable partner and ally in the cause of advancing international justice. 

As the ad hoc war crimes tribunals enter their final years, the eyes of the world are increasingly turned toward the ICC.  In this setting, the stocktaking programs in Kampala could not be more timely or important.  We look forward to engaging in those programs—and with the ICC itself in the months ahead.


PRN: 2010/049