When the Rome Statute became reality a quarter of a century ago, following long and tough negotiations, it helped a centuries-old idea – bringing about peace through law – to finally achieve an important breakthrough. A further stone was added to international law as the foundation of our international community in the form of the International Criminal Court (ICC). At long last, states accepted that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished.
In the eyes of the perpetrators, the ICC already has genuine teeth. And in the eyes of the victims, it represents the hope that their suffering will not go unpunished. That is why one gap in the prosecution is particularly painful, namely the crime of aggression, the crime against the most precious asset we have: our peace. The hurdles for prosecution are still too high here. No one in the 21st century should be allowed to wage a war of aggression with impunity. For this reason, we intend to continue to develop international law in cooperation with partners so that it reflects the realities of the 21st century.
The barbarity of Russia’s war is particularly evident in the fate of the many thousands of children who were deported from Ukraine to Russia. Russia has not only taken away their childhood, but also their identity and future. The fact that the ICC has already launched investigations into this is an important step towards achieving justice for the children and their families.