Paet: International Criminal Court’s role in ensuring human rights must be increased

At an international human rights conference in Reykjavik on Thursday, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia feels it is essential to increase the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in fighting international crimes and ensuring human rights in the world.

According to the Foreign Ministry press department, Paet said that Estonia feels it is important to support the work of the International Criminal Court and for countries to adhere to the responsibility to protect (R2P) principle. “This means that a country has a responsibility to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity perpetrated against its population. The International Criminal Court plays an important role in punishing those who perpetrate these kinds of crimes,” Paet said.

“The International Criminal Court and the responsibility to protect principle form a united front in standing for human rights and fighting against impunity,” emphasised the Estonian foreign minister. Therefore, Paet said, Estonia would like for prevention to be the main focus within the framework of the responsibility to protect principle and for the importance of the R2P principle to be emphasised more in the international arena, including in the context of human rights. “The probability of serious crimes against humanity taking place is greater in countries where human rights violations are already taking place,” he added.

In his speech, the foreign minister also noted that increasing the role of the International Criminal Court and achieving the global jurisdiction of the court is also important for Estonia. “Currently the International Criminal Court has 122 members, but we would like for there to be more,” he said. Paet said that the ICC can be a vital tool for ensuring the responsibility to protect principle only if the court had widespread political support.

Responsibility to protect (R2P) is an initiative created by the UN in 2005. It consists of an emerging norm based on the idea that sovereignty is not a right, but a responsibility. R2P focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.