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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Full text of Buhari’s address at International Criminal Court event

Buhari full text

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday departed Abuja for the
Netherlands to deliver a keynote address on the occasion of the 20th
anniversary celebration of the International Criminal Court, ICC, during
which the president said he would, as the current anti-corruption
champion for the African Union, reaffirm Nigeria’s support to the
fundamental values of the Rome Statute and to the ideals of the ICC.

Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, later explained
that the decision of the International Criminal Court to invite only
President Muhammadu Buhari from among world leaders to the 20th
anniversary of the Rome Statute of the Court was an indication of the
high respect the court has for the country.

Speaking with journalists in The Hague, Ngofa expressed the belief that Buhari’s visit will be an opportunity to show Nigeria’s appreciation for the honour done to the country by electing a Nigerian as President of the Court.

Meanwhile, at Courtroom 1 of the ICC where the anniversary event held, the Nigerian President, in his address said:

I am honoured to be with you here today to celebrate the anniversary
of this vital global institution. I say “vital” because the world needs
the ICC.

2. Let me start by congratulating you, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, on
your election as President of the International Criminal Court, and also
thank the judges of the Court for electing you, a cherished son of
Nigeria. Nigeria is very proud of you, Mr. President.

3. Let me also express my gratitude to the International Criminal Court for inviting me to speak on this occasion.

4. As we know, the International Criminal Court was established
twenty years ago as a global court, inspired by the Nuremberg trials of
World War II war criminals, to hold people accountable for crimes
against humanity, war crimes, crimes of genocide and aggression.

5. In addition to preventing impunity, promoting adherence and
respect for the rule of law and fundamental freedoms worldwide and to
punishing those in leadership positions responsible for the most
appalling crimes and atrocities, the ICC has given hope for justice to
so many, by demanding strict adherence to the rules of international
humanitarian law.

6. With the alarming proliferation of the most serious crimes around
the world, the ICC, and all that it stands for, is now needed more than
ever, in ways that were unforeseeable to its founders. The ICC may have
been created at a time of optimism that it would not need to be utilized
frequently, but, unfortunately, the increase in international crimes
has only increased the Court’s relevance.

7. Indeed, while limits on the ICC’s jurisdiction mean that it cannot
presently act with regard to some of the dire crises of the day in
states that are not parties, by acting where it can, the ICC reinforces
the demand for justice far beyond its own cases.

8. A strong and effective ICC has the potential to send a powerful
message about the international community’s commitment to
accountability, a message that will be heard by both victims and
perpetrators. Equally, a strong and effective ICC demonstrates the
international community’s commitment to the rule of law.

9. A strong and effective ICC can also act as a catalyst for other
justice efforts, expanding the reach of accountability. These could
include serious cases of corruption by state actors that severely
compromise the development efforts of countries and throw citizens into
greater poverty. These could also include cases of illicit financial
flows where countries are complicit and obstruct repatriation of stolen
assets. As the African Union Champion on Anti-corruption, these are
issues dear to my heart.

10. The Rome Statute created more than a court; it created the
outline for a system of justice for horrific crimes rooted first in
national courts doing their job, and where they fail to do so, the ICC
stepping in only as “the court of the last resort”

11. The ICC also needs increased cooperation and financial resources
from its member states. State parties should express their commitment to
increasing efforts in these areas, including pledging concrete

12. The twenty years of the Court’s existence have witnessed several
challenges, some of which had threatened the very existence of the Court
itself. Most notable were the withdrawals and threats of withdrawals of
membership of the Court by some States, as well as accusations of bias
in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court. Thankfully, the Court
has addressed these challenges in a dignified and commendable way.

13. Nonetheless, the Court needs to take on board all constructive
criticisms and allay lingering fears and concern through targeted
messaging, awareness raising and possible modification of some legal
provisions. If properly articulated, communication and awareness raising
would surely engender trust and encourage greater cooperation of Member
States with the Court and even encourage non – Member States to decide
to become Members. It must avoid even a hint of bias or political

14. The goals and responsibilities of the Court are no doubt very
challenging and daunting but with the cooperation of all, coupled with
the high calibre of Judges and staff of the Court, the challenges are
not insurmountable. I, therefore, urge all States not to politicize the
decisions of the Court but to always bear in mind the rationale for the
establishment of the Court in the first place.

15. I urge all States that have not yet done so to, as a matter of
deliberate State policy, accede to the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court so that it can become a universal treaty.

16. Nigeria has cooperated with, and supported the Court at all
times. This, we have demonstrated by our full and transparent
cooperation on matters on which we are being investigated and also in
our several Country statements at the sessions of the Court. Our
cooperation with the Court is borne out of our strong belief in the
respect for the rule of law and human rights, and in our firm commitment
to the sanctity of fundamental freedoms at international and domestic
levels, as ingrained in the objectives for establishing the Court.

17. In conclusion, let me intimate you that Nigeria is preparing to
conduct general elections in 2019. Contrary to the tragic incidents that
characterized the 2011 general elections in Nigeria which necessitated
preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court, I assure
you that all hands are on deck to prevent any recurrence of such tragic
incidents. We shall do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria
witnesses the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019.

18. Again, I congratulate the Court on its 20th Anniversary and wish
it continued growth, relevance and success in the years to come in its
vital role as a bulwark against man’s inhumanity to man.

Thank you for your attention.

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