Strengthening accountability and justice for serious violations of international law
Mr. President, Your Excellency the Prime Minister of Albania,
Let me begin by congratulating you and your delegation on Albania’s assumption of the Presidency of the Council for the month of June. I wish you the best of success and assure you of Ghana’s cooperation during the month. I also acknowledge the presence of all the high-level officials with us in the Council this morning and believe that the Council’s debate today would be richer for it in helping to deepen a shared commitment for strengthening accountability and justice for the cause of international peace and security. We are also grateful to the distinguished briefers for their enriching contributions to the discussions. I further take this opportunity to commend Ambassador Linda ThomasGreenfield and the delegation of the United States for their professional and sterling leadership of the Council in the preceding month.
Nearly three decades of progressive focus by this Council on the question of accountability and justice for serious violations of human rights and international crimes has increased the recognition of the importance of accountability and justice to international peace and security. The Council’s focus has however often produced uneven results. The transmission of the Council’s decisions into practice has often been challenging and the Council’s own approach to dealing with questions of accountability and justice have, in some instances appeared, to be selective. However, when the Council has previously acted in a unified and clearsighted manner, even in the absence of the referral mechanism of article 13 (b) of the Rome Statute, it set up the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals of Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, and helped to create the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. What these bold acts of the Council show is that in instances that geopolitical interests are subordinated; in moments that our common humanity is freed to rise to the fore; we can see beyond the despicable acts of egregious violations to take the actions necessary to avoid impunity, deliver justice for victims and deter a repeat of such egregious violations.
We therefore believe that the Council can do better in support of accountability and justice by making its actions blind to the actors involved in serious violations and ensuring that actions of the Council are impervious to the geopolitical interest of key Member States. Whether serious violations occur in Mali, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Ukraine, the response should be the same. Where states are either unwilling or unable to ensure justice for systematic and widespread violations of human rights, war crimes or crimes against humanity, impunity must not be made to lie.
The complex and delicate approach often required in resolving prevailing conflict situations should not sacrifice the rights of individuals and their need for justice.
Indeed, at the heart of the rules-based international order, that has been built over the past seven decades, is the right of individuals and their critical role in the effective functioning of States and the stability of nations. Those who exercise the sovereign authority of the State, cannot therefore exercise the instruments of governments against the individuals they have a universal responsibility to safeguard. Ensuring accountability is therefore fundamental and is needed now more than ever to avoid a further weakening of the rules-based order. It is necessary to uphold the rule of law at the international level and restore confidence in the credibility of international law and its accompanying international adjudicative bodies. Importantly, is our duty to secure justice
for the victims whose lives and livelihoods have been adversely impacted by such violations.
We are convinced that accountability and justice for all people are achievable. We believe that the fight against impunity is a mission to be pursued by the international community as a whole. We must, together, guard against impunity becoming ingrained into the fabric of our international system and re-commit to ensure that perpetrators of international criminal offences and atrocities do not go unpunished. In acknowledging the primary responsibility of States to ensure accountability, we aver that such responsibility extends to preventive and resilience mechanisms against atrocities. We, therefore, urge relevant support to enhance national capacities to prosecute serious violations of international law. As a State party to the Rome Statue, Ghana reaffirms her commitment to the tenets of the Statute and the important work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), as an integral part of the international architecture for upholding international law and ensuring accountability. Concerted and enhanced coordination efforts including the engagement of the media, civil society organizations and international donor partners are
necessary to provide the requisite political support and resources for effective accountability. Accountability is also concerned with establishing the truth. All allegations of atrocities must be subjected to independent, thorough and impartial investigations by relevant authorities to establish the facts and basis for prosecution.
We further emphasize the importance of the timely collection and preservation of evidence, as well as the identification and protection of key witnesses. It is an established fact that women and girls, suffer disproportionately from situations arising from the violations of international law, including conflict-Draft related sexual violence. We believe that gender mainstreaming and the integration of gender-responsive policies into existing and emerging accountability mechanisms at national and international levels will increase the measure of success for the prosecution of such offences against women and girls. Additionally, we encourage grassroot engagement of women leaders as key focal points for the collection of evidence and provision of psycho-social support to victims throughout prosecution processes.
In concluding, we call on Member States to unite against impunity and stand committed to all efforts aimed at advancing accountability and justice in the international system. Our collective commitment in this regard, is fundamental to preserving and upholding the principles of the Charter and our shared values for peace and security.
I thank you, Mr. President.