11 April 2013
Statement by H.E. Mr. Gholam-Hossein Dehghani
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Before the General Debate of the General Assembly on Role of International Criminal Justice and Reconciliation
New York, 11 April 2013
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I am honored to participate in this thematic debate on such an important issue of international criminal justice and reconciliation. It is indeed an opportunity which allows the General Assembly members to exchange views and experiences of almost two decades of functioning of such processes in various parts of the world.
The Islamic Republic of Iran firmly believes in fighting impunity and particularly for most heinous international crimes as it would definitely serve peace and prosperity for all nations. The international community has recognized the need to establish international courts to prosecute and punish perpetrators of horrific international crimes, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. It is generally recognized that in order to have a successful international court to try and punish criminals, it should remain neutral, independent, apolitical, and avoid double-standard, as was intended when they were founded. These requirements could certainly assist a court to play a major role in the global campaign towards ending impunity for international crimes and bringing about reconciliation in conflict affected areas.
Complementarity is also a key concept while dealing with international criminal tribunals; it is a fundamental legal principle in international criminal law that gives priority to internal justice systems to adequately be equipped and able to promote justice and to end impunity. Internal mechanisms carry greater legitimacy as they draw on traditions and accepted practice. No international criminal tribunal has the capacity and capability to completely replace internal justice systems due to various reasons. Through internal justice systems, rule of law could better prevail in society and crimes be deterred , investigated, prosecuted and punished with a view to strengthen peace and order.
Here I ought to emphasize that among main categories of crimes, the crime of aggression is the mother of all international crimes and as such, the way criminal courts would tackle it, can broadly influence our campaign against impunity as well as the whole architect of international law and international relations. It is indeed supreme crime of international concern and until and unless international courts including International Criminal Court would not be able to prosecute and punish perpetrators of such crimes, one may not rest assured that an efficient international criminal justice is in effect.
I would like to recall first review conference of the Rome Statute as a great opportunity to develop an efficient legal system to deal with perpetrators of crime of aggression that was missed due to reluctant of some Security Council members in paving the ground for bringing those responsible before justice. However, the review conference managed to define crime of aggression which was in itself a step forward. Such move was without a doubt a reminder for States getting used to employ force and threatening to use force against others that their deeds would not be left without strict responsibility. Aggression constitutes violation of jus cogens as well as article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter. To prevent crime of aggression to happen, it unquestionably requires immediate and appropriate reaction by the international community. We as Iranians always have this question in mind unanswered that how atrocious crimes, including the crime of aggression, of Saddam Husain and his sponsors during 8 years of imposed war against Iranian nation went unpunished. An issue which can send a bad message to those having vicious plans to launch another aggression in our region. Certain States must learn from the past, and aggressors without taking political considerations into account must be brought to justice.
In the aftermath of events in 1990s we were determined to fight impunity for those who committed atrocities as crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by establishing special tribunals which proved their effectiveness in fighting impunity. We have been supportive to the functions of such tribunals and their ability to hold accountable individuals accused of certain crimes against oppressed people who were victimized by criminals. It was the least to alleviate the sufferings of victims and their family and friends. It came also to be necessary for restoring peace and order in respective regions.
And finally, as a matter of principal, we should not prevent any endeavor to assess operations and achievements of international tribunals, particularly on how we assess their success in delivering reconciliation. Expressing different views should be in no way interpreted as defending criminals and crimes they committed. We are of the vision that members of the General Assembly should enjoy full right to participate and express their views regardless of what other partners and members would think and state. It is the least role can thematic debates play for the purposes set out for the General Assembly in the Charter. It is also a wise step for reconciliation in post era conflict societies by jointly striving to learn lessons for our common future.