Canadian Statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Upholding International Law

May 17, 2018


The role of this Council is to maintain international peace and security, but there is no peace without justice.

Despite growing demands for accountability, impunity for violations of international law continues unabated.

We can do better.

Justice and accountability are prerequisites for peace and security. They are likewise fundamental to prevention. Impunity, on the other hand, begets further human rights violations. International humanitarian law and international human rights remain at the core of Canada’s commitment to a peaceful world, and a rules-based international order. Canada is acting to defend this commitment in the following ways:

First, Canada supports the international legal framework, and strongly advocates for respect for international law.

Just last month, G7 foreign ministers committed to taking practical measures aimed at promoting the effective implementation of international humanitarian law by our partners.

More specifically, they committed to using their support to state and, when relevant, non-state parties to armed conflict to, inter alia, encourage these parties’ effective implementation of IHL. We did this because we believe that greater adherence to IHL can help reduce unnecessary human suffering in situations of armed conflict.

Second, Canada supports the fight against impunity.

Our government is deeply committed to ensuring that those who violate international law are held accountable. This is why Canada welcomes, and financially supports, the efforts of international organizations, such as the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations that collect and analyze evidence for the purpose of prosecuting those responsible for international crimes.

Turning to Myanmar, Canada remains outraged at the crimes against humanity which have been committed against the Rohingya and other ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar. This year, for the first time, the Secretary-General specifically named the armed forces of Myanmar for patterns of sexual violence in conflict.

Wherever and whenever civilian populations are targeted with such indiscriminate violence, the international community must act—swiftly, and in concert. There can be no impunity for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes. Canada supports the establishment of an international accountability mechanism to investigate and prosecute those responsible for atrocities.

Moreover, Canada is coordinating with like-minded partners to support existing evidence gathering efforts, such as the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, and explore options to assist in documenting and investigating the atrocities and grave human rights violations, especially in Rakhine State. This includes violations related to sexual and gender-based violence.

Similarly, in the context of Syria, Canada is supporting the International Independent and Investigative Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity. We also support the Commission for International Justice and Accountability with gathering of evidence for use in the eventual prosecution of perpetrators.

In Myanmar, just like in Syria, our government remains fully supportive of efforts towards building lasting peace and reconciliation, including through accountability.

Lastly, Canada supports the International Criminal Court with crucial leadership and advocacy.

Canada is proud of the central role we played in establishing the ICC and fully supports the work of the Court to bring to account those responsible for serious international crimes. We call on all states to cooperate with the ICC to ensure that the perpetrators of such crimes are held accountable.

Indeed, multilateral forums such as the ICC play a key role in promoting accountability.

This Council can count on Canada’s leadership to engage constructively with multilateral, international and bilateral partners to drive positive action on peace and security issues.

Madam/Mister President,

Member States, and this Council, must address persistent violations of international law and end the pervasive climate of impunity.

Today, let us signal our determination to pursue accountability through all available channels.

Canada stands ready to help.

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