I will now make a statement in my capacity as Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.
Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers,
Mr. Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with a deep sense of gravity that I take the floor at this meeting of the Security Council devoted to Ukraine, and more particularly to the crimes committed there.
The aggression that Russia has decided, alone, to carry out against a sovereign State, Ukraine, which was wrong only in wanting to live free, constitutes a flagrant violation of the fundamental norms of our Common Charter, the Charter of United Nations. The non-use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the sovereignty of States and their territorial integrity, are principles that we have all subscribed to around the table of this Council. They were, each of them, openly violated.
The war that began on February 24 is also accompanied by abuses and destruction of civilian targets. These are as many violations of the laws of war and as many acts that will have to be accounted for. In Boutcha or Chernihiv and in so many other places, unbearable crimes have been perpetrated. The release of Izioum is also accompanied by the discovery of new atrocities committed by the torturers.
So the message from France today is simple: justice must be our common imperative; there will be no peace without justice.
Justice is of course an imperative for the victims, who have the right to recognition and reparation for their suffering. All the suffering, of each victim.
Justice is then an imperative of international security and I say this to those who see in this war only one more conflict: if everything is permitted here, everything will be more so elsewhere, and the possibility of a war of the aggression will only increase.
Finally, justice is a political imperative. We will have to ensure that individuals become aware of the crimes for which they are responsible, whether they committed, ordered or planned them. But it is the very idea that such crimes are possible, such att*cks on our common humanity, which must be combated in word and deed.
For this, a framework has been laid down, that of professional and specialized justice. At its peak, the International Criminal Court was seized by 43 states, including France. This is the first time that so many States have referred a situation to the Court, a sign of the importance that we collectively attach to what is at stake here. The Court itself will act, as you know, in complementarity with the Ukrainian courts as well as with the other national jurisdictions referred to, including the French jurisdictions and those of several States present today.
In this context, justice must pass. France is therefore working, with many other partners, to strengthen the collection of evidence and the collection of reliable information in all of these jurisdictions.
This is why France has acted very concretely. As soon as the information on the crimes committed in Boucha became known, last April, we sent two teams of investigators to Ukraine. They have, for three months, helped the Ukrainian justice system to painstakingly and patiently establish the facts; then we donated a mobile DNA analysis laboratory. Now that in Izioum new atrocities have been revealed to the face of the world, we have just decided to send a new support mission to the investigators on site. Because where Russia acts through disinformation and propaganda, justice must be based on facts.
Our support obviously extends to the International Criminal Court. It is both financial and human by the provision of magistrates and investigators for its benefit, with the greatest respect for its independence.
Finally, our support extends to all jurisdictions which must be able to cooperate with each other. Thus, the EUROJUST regulations were modified under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, to allow the International Criminal Court to participate in joint investigation teams bringing together several national jurisdictions, including those of Ukraine .
What we do makes sense. It is about the fight against impunity, but it is also about the integrity of our international order.
The choice of war by Russia under false pretexts, its crude manipulation of a notion as weighty as that of “genocide”, which constitutes the “crime of crimes”, the one which justified after the Second World War that the project of an international penal justice, challenging deeply. The International Court of Justice itself has noted the abusive nature of this false assertion.
The same manipulation is at work when we speak of referendums in territories conquered by force and subjected to terror. Or when some threaten us in every possible way, while we are, with others, those who refuse to participate in any escalation whatsoever.
Faced with those who deprive words of their meaning, our mission, our duty, our work, around the table of this Council, is also to give things back their meaning.
I would like to conclude by quoting a Russian author. “We must publicly condemn the very idea that men would exercise such violence on other men. By silencing vice, by burying it in our body so that it does not emerge outside, we sow them, and in the future it only gives a thousand times more shoots”. In writing these lines, Solzhenitsyn was referring to a decade of crimes committed by the USSR on its own territory. Alas, there is not a word to take away from it to describe the crimes committed today by Russia outside its borders.
The Court is investigating facts that may, according to its Prosecutor, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. We will see its conclusions but as of today we can – and must – say that those responsible will be determined, prosecuted and, ultimately, judged. Time may seem long for the victims and their families, but they must be certain that they will not go unpunished. We owe it to them and it’s not just about what we owe them, it’s about our security, and it’s also about the universal principles that bind us.
I thank you and I resume my duties as President of the Council and give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway.
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