European Union

Since 1995, the European Union (EU) has been a leading force in the establishment and the strengthening of various international justice mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court (ICC).

With the ratification of the Rome Statute by the Czech Republic in 2009, all EU member states are also members of the ICC.

The Coalition works to strengthen EU support for the ICC and to ensure the implementation of a wide range of EU policies on the ICC and the fight against impunity. Through our Europe regional office in Brussels, we work closely with EU institutions, the EU focal point on the ICC, the European Parliament and EU member states.

We advocate for strong EU commitments and engagement on international justice issues, as well as political and diplomatic support to the ICC. We encourage the EU and its member states to continue promoting ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute, overall support for international justice worldwide, and cooperation with the Court.

In doing this, the EU builds on the impact of NGOs through international and national campaigns. Through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, the EU has contributed significantly to the justice initiatives of non-governmental organizations, including the Coalition.

Common EU position on the ICC 

On 11 June 2001, the European Union adopted a Common Position on the ICC, which was reviewed and reinforced on 20 June 2002 and again on 16 June 2003, and endowed with an Action Plan in February 2004.

The Common Position guided the action of the EU and of EU member states with regards to the ICC. The Action Plan provided concrete measures to achieve the objective of universal ratification to and implementation of the Rome Statute, as well as the independence and effective functioning of the ICC. 

As pledged at the Rome Statute Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda in 2010, the EU reviewed and replaced its Common Position via a Decision of the Council adopted on 21 March 2011. In accordance with the Council Decision, a revised Action Plan was adopted on 12 July 2011 which implemented the decision.

The EU Decision’s objective is: the advancement of universal support for the Rome Statute of the ICC, the preservation of its integrity, the independence and effective and efficient functioning of the ICC, the support of cooperation with the ICC and the implementation of the principle of complementarity.

EU focal point on the ICC
The Decision also renews the position of an EU Focal point on the ICC, previously established by the European External Action Service (EEAS). This position assists in ensuring effective co-ordination and consistency of information, as well as the adequate preparation of the programs and activities of the EU in the implementation of the decision. The EU focal point establishes appropriate contacts and exchange of information among all relevant actors and sources, including the ICC and other international organizations, third countries and nongovernmental organizations.

EU Member States have also established national focal points on the ICC. 

Complementarity Toolkit
As pledged at the Rome Statute Review Conference in 2010, the European Commission and EEAS developed a 'Complementarity Toolkit' (Joint Working Document on Advancing the Principle of Complementarity – Toolkit for Bridging the Gap between international and National Justice), published in January 2013.

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Strategic focus on non-cooperation and universality

In 2013, EU Member States considered that non-cooperation constituted one of the most serious challenges to the effective functioning of the ICC and adopted an Information Note on the EU’s response to non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court by third states. This focused on how on how the EU and its members can respond to such instances.

On 6 December 2005, the EU concluded an Agreement on cooperation and assistance with the International Criminal Court .

On 15 April 2008, the Council of the European Union agreed on security arrangements for the protection of classified information exchanged between the EU and the ICC.

The EU offers political and technical support to states worldwide, including those that are not yet party to the Rome Statute, and conducts demarches campaigns to encourage states to join and implement the Rome Statute. 

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EU Genocide Network

The EU has a fundamental role to play in ensuring that its member states can effectively investigate and prosecute serious international crimes. In an effort to increase internal cooperation and coherence in the prevention and repression of serious international crimes, the EU has also adopted specific instruments under its Justice and Home Affairs policy.

In June 2002, the EU set up a “European network of contact points with respect to persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” (the “EU Genocide Network”). This was further strengthened by the establishment of the EU Genocide Network Secretariat in 2011.

The Council Decision of 8 May 2003 recognized the need for EU states to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and aimed at increasing cooperation between member states in this field.

The EU Genocide Network includes practitioners (prosecutors, judges, police investigators and other experts) who participate in bi-annual meetings of the EU Genocide Network and aims to facilitate inter-state cooperation in several serious international crimes cases prosecuted in EU Member States.

The EU Genocide Network facilitates the exchange of information amongst practitioners, encourages cooperation between national authorities in different Member States and provides a forum for sharing knowledge and best practice. The Genocide Network is supported in its work through the Secretariat based in The Hague with Eurojust.

In 2014, the EU Genocide Network adopted a “Strategy to combat impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within the European Union and its Member States”, which identifies concrete measures which the EU and Member States should take to support national investigations and prosecutions of serious international crimes in those states (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and enforced disappearances).

In June 2015, the EU and its Member States renewed their commitment to fighting impunity through the adoption of Conclusions on strengthening the fight against impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within the European Union and its Member States. The Conclusions endorse the Strategy adopted by the EU Network and invite EU Member States to use them as guidelines to strengthen their national efforts.

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European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) has been one of the earliest, most consistent and vocal supporters of the ICC. On 17 November 2011, following the drafting of an own-initiative report on the same subject, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on ‘EU support for the International Criminal Court (ICC): Facing challenges and overcoming difficulties,’. This committed the Parliament to playing an active role in promoting the ICC and the fight against impunity in all EU policies.

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