MEPs call on EU to welcome Palestine to ICC

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. © AFP Photo/Frederick Florin

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. © AFP Photo/Frederick Florin

The European Parliament welcomed Palestine’s accession to the ICC Rome Statute last month. Now, a group of MEPs wants to know why the European Union (EU) as a whole hasn’t done the same.

Under the EU’s policy on the Court, it is committed to promoting the widest possible participation in the ICC system. For example, the EU recently called on Iraq to join the Court. When states have joined the Court, the EU—through its EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission,—has typically welcomed each accession.

But it has not done so for Palestine.

Sixty-nine MEPs addressed the issue last month when they hailed Palestine’s decision to join the Court. In a letter to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, they urged her to welcome Palestine’s accession:

“In this way, as Representatives of the European peoples, we solemnly ask you to convey our satisfaction of the ratification of the Rome Statute by Palestine, and to ‘warmly welcome’ this state to the ICC as the EEAS did in the past for numerous other states. The EU should seize this opportunity to address a powerful message to the world by reaffirming its affection towards justice and peaceful resolution of conflicts by the means of international law.”

Several individual MEPs have also asked the EU Commission and Council whether Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute would be welcomed.

In response, High Representative Mogherini said that the EU has “taken note” of Palestine’s accession and that the ICC’s legal processes should be allowed to run their course. She added that the EU “has consistently called for both parties to refrain from any unilateral actions… and has called on the Palestinian leadership to use its international status constructively and not to weaken efforts by partners to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.”

Our Coalition has always supported the universal ratification of the Rome Statute and has urged all countries to join the ICC. We have also called on the international community—including the EU—to respect and support Palestine’s decision to do so.

Lotte Leicht, Human Rights Watch EU director:

“Europe’s principles, its substantial investments in Palestine and in the ICC, and its legal obligations all point in the same direction: promoting, not thwarting, Palestine’s ICC membership.”

The people of each and every country deserve the safeguards against war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide that ICC membership provides. That is reason enough for the EU—a long-standing supporter of the fight against impunity—to welcome Palestine’s choice to join the Court and the ultimate goal of universal justice.

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