Today, the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”) joins the rest of the world in marking Human Rights Day and commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on this day in 1948.

International criminal justice is inseparably connected to the global movement to promote respect for universally recognised human rights, starting with the most fundamental rights such as the right to life and freedom from torture. The mandate of the ICC, standing at the centre of the international criminal justice system, is to hold perpetrators of the most serious international crimes accountable when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so, as well as provide redress to victims and help prevent future atrocities though deterrence.

The unprecedented focus on victims provided for in the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute creates an important platform for advancing human rights through the ICC. The Court’s legal framework allows victims to participate in the proceedings with the help of legal representatives, as well as receive reparations when perpetrators are convicted by the ICC. These reparations, typically comprising psychological and physical rehabilitation as well income generating activities, are aimed at repairing the harm suffered by the victims as a result of the crimes committed against them.

The Trust Fund for Victims at the ICC plays a key role in making these reparations possible, and it can also assist victims regardless of any court proceedings or their outcome in the countries where the Court is active. I witnessed the transformative effect of these measures myself just a few weeks ago, when I visited Bangui in the Central African Republic, where I met with victim-beneficiaries and local partners of the Trust Fund. I call upon all States and other entities to support the work of the Trust Fund for Victims, which depends on voluntary contributions to be able to carry out its highly important mandate.

I also reiterate my call to all States to join the Rome Statute, if they have not done so, and I encourage all States to support the ICC in its daily work as well as strengthen the capacity of their national jurisdictions to address the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

We must work together toward shared goals in order to make real progress in eradicating impunity for the gravest crimes under international law. This is crucial for advancing the global enjoyment of universal human rights, which belong to all people without distinction.

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