Remarks by Stephen Zack, U.S. Senior Advisor, on Agenda Item 75 - Report of the International Criminal Court

Stephen Zack, U.S. Senior Advisor
New York, NY
October 31, 2013


Thank you, Mr. President. We would like to thank President Song of the International Criminal Court for his presentation of the ICC’s ninth annual report to the General Assembly, covering the period from August 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013. We recognize President Song for his continued service to the ICC.

Strengthening accountability for those responsible for the worst atrocities remains an important priority for the United States. President Obama has repeatedly emphasized the importance of preventing mass atrocities and genocide as a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States. The United States is committed to working with the international community to bring concerted international pressure to bear to prevent atrocities and ensure accountability for the perpetrators of these crimes. Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, we recognize that the ICC can play an important role in a multilateral system that aims to ensure accountability and end impunity.

The ICC, by its nature, is designed only to pursue those accused of bearing the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes within its jurisdiction when states are not willing or able to investigate or prosecute genuinely. We therefore continue to support positive complementarity initiatives by assisting countries in their efforts to develop domestic accountability processes for atrocity crimes. Accountability and peace begin with governments taking care of their own people. The international community must continue to support rule of law capacity-building initiatives to advance transitional justice, including the creation of hybrid structures where appropriate, and must develop a shared approach to recurring issues such as coordinated and effective protection for witnesses and judicial personnel. From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Senegal’s efforts with the AU to prosecute Hissène Habré, the United States continues to support efforts to build fair, impartial, and capable national justice systems as well as hybrid tribunals where appropriate.

At the same time, we must strengthen accountability mechanisms at the international level. We will continue to work with the ICC to identify practical ways in which we can work to advance our mutual goals–on a case-by-case basis and consistent with U.S. policy and laws. In the past year, for example, we worked with the Court and other states to help assist in the voluntary surrender to the ICC in March of Bosco Ntaganda, allegedly responsible for atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability. And in January, President Obama signed into law an expansion of the United States War Crimes Rewards program to permit the offer of rewards for information leading to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of individuals accused of criminal responsibility for genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity by any hybrid or international criminal tribunal, including the ICC. Shortly thereafter, we added a number of individuals subject to ICC arrest warrants to our rewards list—including Joseph Kony in the Uganda situation and Sylvestre Mudacumura, still at large in the DRC situation. We look forward to continuing to engage with States Parties and other States on these and other shared issues of concern, such as information sharing and witness protection.

Mr. President, it is critical that the international community remain committed to working toward coordinated efforts both to prevent atrocities before they occur and to provide accountability for those responsible for atrocities that do happen. Although the international community has made progress on both fronts, much work remains. The United States remains committed to working in partnership with others to achieve these goals. We look forward to continued discussions here at the United Nations and to our upcoming participation as an Observer at the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties in The Hague next month.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2013/218