Sophie Wilmès stresses the importance of the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity and for the strengthening of the rule of law

On Monday 14 December, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès spoke at the 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, the founding text of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Due to the health situation, Minister Wilmès participated in this meeting, held in The Hague, virtually.

Minister Wilmès called on States Parties to join together to support the Court in face of the sanctions measures taken by the American authorities against employees of the Court, as well as to provide the Court with the financial means it needs to fulfil its mission. During its two-year term on the Security Council, Belgium, as the focal point for the International Criminal Court, has been keen to mobilise the States Parties that are members of the Council in order to defend and promote effective interaction between the Court and the Council.

Sophie Wilmès stressed the importance for Belgium to give a special place to the victims and for them to be recognised and treated with dignity. This is why Belgium has contributed EUR 525,000 to the Trust Fund for Victims in 2020.

The Assembly must choose a candidate for the position of ICC Prosecutor, to succeed Ms. Fatou Bensouda, who is completing her mandate and whom Belgium salutes the commitment. It is important that the appointment to such a crucial function be made by consensus. In addition, six new judges are to be elected. Minister Wilmès highlighted the candidacy of the First President of the Court of Appeal of Brussels, Judge Laurence Massart, and called on the representatives of the other States Parties to elect the most qualified candidates.

The strengthening of the rule of law and the fight against impunity are at the heart of Belgian foreign policy priorities. For this reason, Belgium has supported since its creation this unique and essential judicial institution that the International Criminal Court is, a permanent court with a universal vocation and complementary to national criminal jurisdictions. This support reflects Belgium's commitment to put an end to the most serious violations of international humanitarian law.