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International Justice

Volume 598: debated on Thursday 16 July 2015

I am pleased to provide Parliament with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual statement of Government support for the principles and institutions of international justice in 2014-15 and our plans for the year ahead. Tomorrow marks international justice day, a good moment to take stock of the UK’s contribution to this crucial area of work.

International justice is central to the UK’s foreign policy. It is essential that perpetrators of atrocities are held to account for their actions, and that victims see justice done. International justice does not stop with punishing the perpetrators—it goes further by helping victims of atrocities and their communities to come to terms with the past, starting the healing process and deterring those who might otherwise commit such violations in the future.

In 2014 we showed our commitment to international justice by contributing £8.2 million to the International Criminal Court, £3.2 million to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, £1.5 million to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and £2 million to the Residual Mechanism which will take on the essential functions of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals when they close. Furthermore, in financial year 2014-15 we made voluntary contributions of £1 million to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and contributed to the international component of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL). The UK also continues to provide support for the RSCSL through our enforcement of the sentence of Charles Taylor.

UK support for international justice is a key element of our ongoing work to end sexual violence in conflict through the preventing sexual violence initiative. We will continue to promote stronger national and international accountability, including through advocacy and training to improve investigation of these crimes using the international protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict. We welcome the recently published policy by the ICC prosecutor on sexual and gender-based crimes and will support the prosecutor’s office in implementing it fully.

The continued work of the International Criminal Court and the international tribunals to tackle impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity helps to strengthen the rules-based international system and makes a contribution towards building a safer more secure world. For example, in January 2015 Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, appeared before the International Criminal Court. This in itself was a major achievement for international efforts to end impunity for the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and for the victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s crimes in Uganda. In March 2015, the International Criminal Court issued its judgment on reparations for the victims of Democratic Republic of the Congo warlord Thomas Lubanga. This was the first final judgment including provisions for compensation for the victims.

This coming year will see further progress in international justice. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is currently investigating nine situations. The court has ongoing proceedings against 21 individuals and 12 fugitives who remain at large. The trial of the former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo will start. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is expected to deliver a verdict in the Radovan Karadžic trial. The formal closure of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is due to happen in the autumn with all its remaining functions transferring to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is now in the second phase of a trial dealing with crimes of genocide, forced marriage, and rape, having delivered in 2014 a verdict in the first phase of the trial of the most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge. And the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone will continue to uphold the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The UK values these institutions and the way in which their activities strengthen international support for the principles of international justice, accountability for crimes, and an end to impunity. We will continue to support these institutions over the next 12 months. We will continue to encourage other states to support these courts and tribunals and to fulfil their legal obligations. We will continue to ensure they deliver value for money by scrutinising budgets and making sure they make the best use of available resources.

This is the third annual update to Parliament on the FCO’s work to support international justice.