After a year's hard work, the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court finally adopted on June 30 the draft on the Elements of Crimes and on the Rules of Procedure and Evidence on second reading at its fifth session. The Final Act of the Rome Conference entrusted the Preparatory Commission with the priority task of preparing these documents and set June 30 as the deadline for its completion. Meeting the deadline for the completion of these two complex documents and their adoption by consensus reflected the eagerness of all States for the early functioning of the ICC and their support for its future work.
As an important part of the process of establishing the ICC, the completion of these two documents has laid down a solid foundation for the smooth functioning of the Court in the future. We wish to express our appreciation to the coordinators and sub-coordinators of the working groups for their work.
In the past year, the PrepCom conducted spirited debates and consultations on the two drafts and called several informal inter-sessional meetings to carry out in-depth discussion of questions relevant to the drafts. China actively participated in all those discussions in a serious, pragmatic and constructive spirit.
Concerning the Elements of Crimes, notwithstanding the grave concern we had voiced during the Rome Conference on the definition of some crimes, we demonstrated a great deal of flexibility and constructive spirit throughout the PrepCom process. When the draft was adopted by the working group at its second reading, we made a statement in explanation of China's concern and reservations on the elements of crimes relating to crimes against humanity. We joined the consensus despite our reservations, mainly because we recognized that the draft was the outcome of a year's hard work by the PrepCom and believed that on the whole it had struck a certain degree of balance by taking account of the concerns of all sides. We wish to stress that when the document is used as a guide in helping the Court to interpret and apply provisions of the Statute, the letter and spirit of the Statute must be observed to ensure a strict interpretation of its contents.
Concerning the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the draft elaborated, in greater detail, specific provisions for the operating procedure of the Court based on the Statute. While the incorporation of features of different legal systems has resulted in relatively balanced provisions on the rights and obligations of parties concerned, we have reservations about the discretion given by the draft to the Court in some matters. In order to prevent the abuse of this discretion, we believe it is necessary to stress the relevant provisions in the Statute on the status of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, namely that they must be consistent with the Statute and that in the event of conflict between the Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Statute shall prevail.
In November this year, the Preparatory Commission will hold its Sixth session to draft a relationship agreement between the Court and the United Nations and financial regulations and rules as well as deal with questions left unresolved by the Working Group on Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
Throughout the process of elaborating the Elements of Crimes and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, nearly all States underscored the importance of respecting the letter and spirit of the Statute. This principle should continue to be observed in any future work of the PrepCom. 21 States have so far ratified the Statute and an increasing number of States have started or are considering the initiation of the ratification process. For States that are or will soon become States Parties to the Statute, any amendment to the Statute in violation of normal procedure would put them in a quandary. For countries that already have misgivings about the Statute, such anomalies would further sap their confidence in it. Accordingly, when the Preparatory Commission works on any text, it should ensure the stability and integrity of the Statute in order to promote its universality and authority. China urges caution in proposing amendments to the Statute in any way other than those provided for in the Statute.
The crime of aggression will also be an important item on the agenda of the sixth session of the Preparatory Commission. Since its establishment at the third session of the PrepCom, the Working Group on the Crime of Aggression has made progress in formulating a consolidated text and a provisional questionnaire and in reaching a degree of consensus on its methods of work. China has always held the crime of aggression to be a very serious international crime and has supported its inclusion under the jurisdiction of the ICC. On the question that attracts the most attention in the definition of the crime of aggression, namely the role of the Security Council, China adopts a cautious and pragmatic approach. Recognizing the sensitive nature of the question of the crime of aggression and the difficulty involved in its resolution, China is ready to work with other delegations in a pragmatic manner for a satisfactory outcome.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.