In an open letter, 55 former European officials, including prime ministers and foreign ministers, condemned obstruction of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation of Israeli war crimes in Palestine.
“We regret to see increasing attacks on the ICC, its staff and cooperating civil society groups. We witnessed with serious concern the executive order issued in the United States by former president Donald Trump and the sanctions designated against the court’s staff and their family members. Deeply worrying is now the unwarranted public criticism of the court regarding its investigation of alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including unfounded accusations of antisemitism” said the former European leaders.
“It is well established and recognised that accountability for serious rights violations by all sides to a conflict is essential for achieving sustainable and lasting peace,” they added. “Where there is no accountability for grave human rights violations, it is the victims seeking justice and people longing for lasting peace who are paying the price.”
They added: “Attempts to discredit the court and obstruct its work cannot be tolerated if we are serious about promoting and upholding justice globally. We understand fears of politically motivated complaints and investigations. Yet we strongly believe that the Rome Statute guarantees the highest criteria of justice and provides a crucial avenue to address impunity for the world’s most serious crimes. Failure to act would have grave consequences.
“In this context, we stress the importance of all European governments firmly supporting the independence of the ICC and shielding the institution and its staff from any external pressures or threats. That includes refraining from public criticism of the ICC’s decisions, which could contribute to undermining the independence of the court and public trust in its authority.”
The former leaders concluded their letter by stressing that the ICC is a vital part of the rules-based international order. “Now more than ever, Europe must lead by example in protecting the court’s independence.”