Day of International Criminal Justice: Statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union

Access to justice is a fundamental human right. On 17 July, we acknowledge the importance of upholding and defending the system of international criminal justice as an essential tool of the international community to promote peace and security and protect the rights of the victims.

As war rages on the European continent with Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, and in other regions of the world, including Sudan, Yemen, and Syria, a resilient and robust system of international criminal justice that can address the gravest and most shocking crimes is essential. We must stand firmly together in our commitment to holding those who perpetrate atrocities accountable for their actions.

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This was a major step forward in the global fight against impunity. The ICC is the first permanent criminal judicial institution of universal character established to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. As confirmed by the Council Conclusions of June 2023, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the Court, as an independent and impartial judicial institution. We renew our commitment to our obligations under the Rome Statute and our determination to defend the ICC against any attempt to undermine its work and any threats against it and its staff.

The EU is actively engaged in supporting international criminal justice. Within Europe, the EU supports the strengthening of cooperation between the EU member states to prevent and combat international crimes through Eurojust and the European Network for the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The EU has been instrumental in supporting the work of the International Criminal Court, international criminal tribunals and ad hoc national tribunals, truth and reconciliation commissions and redress mechanisms to protect the rights of victims to justice and reparation, as well as United Nations accountability mechanisms.

The European Union will continue calling for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes to be brought to justice and held to account. No one – no matter who they are or where they are – must be allowed to escape justice.