The International Criminal Court is a permanent institution based in The Hague in the Netherlands. The Court was established by the Rome Statute, which has been ratified by around two thirds of all UN Member States including Switzerland. Switzerland has always advocated strongly in favour of the Court and the universal ratification of the Statute.
The Court first and foremost serves the victims of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. Those victims bear the consequences of withdrawals.
The Court is an independent institution mandated to put an end to impunity. It embodies the principle that justice must be done and seen to be done in order to achieve sustainable peace, assure accountability, and contribute to the prevention of future violations. Against the backdrop of the multiplication of serious violations of international law and of the most basic principles of humanity in current armed conflicts, the decisions send a troubling signal.
Switzerland underscores that the Court functions impartially. If many of its investigations concern situations in Africa, it is because Governments on the continent have repeatedly requested the Court themselves to investigate. In addition, the Court only acts as a last resort when crimes are not investigated and prosecuted by national authorities.
Switzerland regrets that the Governments of South Africa and Burundi have recently announced their withdrawal from the Rome Statute. A withdrawal takes effect only one year after the notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations acting as depositary of the Statute. The Court can pursue matters already under consideration, and the concerned States remain bound to cooperate in that respect.
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