The fight against impunity is one of the priorities of Estonia’s foreign policy in the field of human rights because Estonia considers it important to work towards protecting its citizens and expanding their opportunities. The International Criminal Court (ICC), founded in 2002, has the authority to hold high-level officials and military leaders who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity or crimes of aggression, accountable for their actions . The work of the ICC and its predecessors – the international tribunals – has been aimed at not letting offenders who committed serious international crimes to go unpunished, as it often happened during the 20th century and earlier. The work of the court helps to prevent massive violations of human rights and serious crimes.
The influence of the court on international public opinion is equally important. Ethnic cleansing, mass rape or the use of weapons prohibited by international law in warfare are strongly condemned by modern international society. Globalisation has increased the mutual dependence of countries as well as the level of mutual vulnerability to the extent that even states that recognize international norms only selectively cannot ignore international public opinion. This has given reason to speak about the development of a new kind of international culture, a culture of responsibility.
Estonian diplomat Tiina Intelmann was the President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties in 2011-2014. Her main responsibilities included representing the states that have joined the ICC when communicating with other international organisations (United Nations, European Union, African Union, European Council etc.), contributing to the accession of new states as well as being an international spokesperson.
Since 2011 Estonia has also had a representative in the Assembly of States Parties Committee on Budget and Finance (Juhani Lemmik, since Nov 2015 Urmet Lee).
Estonia has made and continues to make donations to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims as well as NGOs that are fighting for more universal principles of the ICC and the capacity building of the State Parties’ law enforcement authorities (Coalition for the ICC, Parliamentarians for Global Action etc.)
Estonia also stresses the importance of following the principles of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). This means that the states are obliged to prevent and hinder genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity within their population. The ICC has an important role in punishing the perpetrators of such crimes.
The ICC and the R2P thereby form a common front in upholding the human rights and fighting impunity.
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