Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for this introduction.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am very pleased to speak with you today about the International Criminal Court. I will divide my remarks into three parts: why the ICC is necessary, the features that are designed to make the ICC well-suited to meet this need, and where the court stands today, including what it will take for the court to be a success.
In terms of why the court is necessary, we have to start with the observation that when very serious crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes are committed and go unpunished, the consequences are severe for individuals, but also for national and regional stability.
The first responsibility for punishing such crimes, as with any other crimes, belongs to national legal systems. But because of the nature of these offences, national legal systems have often proven unwilling or unable to prosecute. Where national systems cannot or will not act, an international court is necessary.
In the past, international tribunals were created on an ad hoc basis where national systems could not or would not act, first at Nuremberg and Tokyo following World War II, and more recently in tribunals established by the Security Council for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
Those tribunals were pioneers. They showed that international criminal justice was a practical possibility. But all of them also face several limitations: they are temporary, they are limited geographically, they respond primarily to events in the past, and their establishment depends every time on the will of the political community and involves substantial costs and delays.
Eventually, states reached a conclusion that only a permanent international court could effectively address the most serious international crimes. The ICC is immediately available, its jurisdiction is prospective, and its jurisdiction is not limited to predetermined situations. It operates within the bounds of the statute that limits that jurisdiction.
I will now move to the features which allow the International Criminal Court to fill the needs I have just described. The jurisdiction of the Court is limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, that is to say genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Court's jurisdiction is not universal. It is limited by status. The Court has jurisdiction over nationals of States Parties or offences committed on the territory of a State Party. There are two universally accepted heads of criminal jurisdiction.
In addition, the Court will have jurisdiction over situations referred by the Security Council. Acting under chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which concerns restoring and maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council can refer situations to the ICC independent of the nationality of the accused or the location of the crime. The Security Council also has the power to defer an investigation or prosecution for one year in the interests of maintaining international peace and security.
It is very important to understand, about the International Criminal Court, that it is a court of last resort. It works as a complement to national jurisdictions under what is known as the principle of complementarity. Under that principle, it is up to States to prosecute and convict those who commit the most serious crimes. The court can act only where States are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate or conduct the necessary prosecutions.
Furthermore, cases will only be admissible if they are of sufficient gravity to justify the Court's involvement.
The ICC is an independent and strictly judicial institution. It was created by a treaty negotiated in Rome in 1998. It is the only existing international court to be created not by the UN Security Council or by other means, but pursuant to a treaty. The States are free to join or not to join the statut, the statut being the treaty. The Court is not part of the United Nations, or any other political body. It exercise, as I said, a purely judicial function. All cases will be handled judicially, in accordance with its statute, as well as the rules of procedure and evidence.
Numerous safeguards protect the independence of the Court, its judges and the prosecutor. The guarantee of a fair trial and protection of the rights of the accused have paramount importance before the ICC. The applicable instruments, starting with the Rome Statute, incorporate the fundamental provisions on the rights of the accused and due process. These are common to national and international legal systems.
However, I want to emphasize an innovation of the International Criminal Court. This is a unique phenomenon in the international world. I want to talk here about the situation of victims. Subject to the requirements of the rights of the accused and the guarantee of a fair trial, the Rome Statute contains a whole series of innovative provisions giving victims an important place in the Court's proceedings. Victims may participate in proceedings even when not called as witnesses. The Court also has the power to order reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation.
Lastly, in this area, the need to take into account the particular interests of victims of violence against women and children is also specifically built into the Statute.
I would like to turn next to the court today and what it will take for the court to succeed. Three states parties have referred situations occurring on their territories to the court. In addition, the Security Council has referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan—Sudan being a non-state party. After analyzing the referrals for jurisdiction and admissibility, the prosecutor began investigations in three situations: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Darfur, Sudan.
In addition to those formal referrals, the prosecutor has received since July 1, 2002—the date of entry into force of the statute—over 1,700 communications from various sources, primarily from individuals and non-governmental organizations. The prosecutor dismissed the vast majority of them as manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the court--for example, communications that allege crimes not within the court’s statute or that deal only with non-states parties. On the basis of such information, the prosecutor is monitoring five additional situations, but these are not situations that I'm aware of, as they are in the prosecutor's domain. But it is known that he is monitoring the situations.
On the 17th of March of this year, the first wanted person was surrendered to the court, Mr. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is alleged to have committed war crimes, namely, conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities. Mr. Lubanga had an initial appearance before the court on the 20th of March. A hearing to confirm the charges is scheduled for September. If the charges are confirmed, the trial phase will begin.
In addition, the court has issued and unsealed arrest warrants in the situation of northern Uganda for five members of an organization called the Lord’s Resistance Army, including its leader, Joseph Kony. The alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes contained in the warrants include sexual enslavement, rape, intentionally attacking civilians, and the forced enlistment of child soldiers.
As I have indicated, the court has been carefully designed to conduct fair and effective proceedings, but it should be clear that the ICC cannot end impunity for horrific crimes by itself. It is but one part of a larger system of international law and justice. To succeed, the court must have support from states, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society.
Because the court’s jurisdiction is limited to the nationals and territory of states parties, it follows that continued ratification of the statute is essential to the court having a truly global reach. Because the court is complementary to national jurisdictions, states will continue to have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes. But where the court needs to act, it will require cooperation from states at all stages of proceedings, such as by executing arrest warrants, providing evidence, and enforcing sentences of the convicted. Simply put, for example, without sufficient support in arresting and surrendering persons, there can be no trials. This requirement for cooperation is not limited to states where crimes are committed or where wanted persons are located, but includes all states in a position to provide cooperation.
International organizations also provide critical support to the court. The support of the United Nations is particularly important in this regard. The UN and the court cooperate on a regular basis, both in our field activities and in our institutional relations. Our cooperation is governed by a relationship agreement signed by the Secretary General of the UN and I in October 2004.
The court is also developing cooperation with regional organizations. It concluded recently and signed a cooperation agreement with the European Union and expects to do so soon with the African Union.
Non-governmental organizations—NGOs—and civil society more broadly are of course instrumental to the work of the court. NGOs have played a large role in urging ratification of the statute, assisting states in developing legislation implementing their own statute, and disseminating information about and building awareness of the ICC.
I would also note here the important role of parliamentarians in supporting discussion of the court nationally and in many cases regionally. In this context, parliamentarians of states parties and non-states parties have been active in such areas as generating understanding of the ICC as well as assisting states in overcoming obstacles to ratification, accession, and implementation of their own statute.
Mr. Chairman, the creation of the ICC was a historic achievement, more than 50 years in the making, but its creation was only the beginning. The court now stands as a permanent institution capable of punishing perpetrators of the worst offences known to humankind. From this point forward, potential perpetrators are on notice that they may find themselves before the court.
For it to be fully effective, I cannot overemphasize how much support for the court will be necessary if it is to dispense justice as fairly and efficiently as possible. Canada has been a major supporter of the court, both in terms of its establishment and in its initial years of operation. Canada played a leading role before and during the Rome conference, and in June 2000 Canada became the first country to adopt comprehensive legislation implementing the Rome Statute.
More recently, Canada provided important public support for the Security Council referral of the situation in Darfur and it has subsequently provided funding to the office of the prosecutor to assist in its investigation in Darfur, as you mentioned yourself, Mr. Chairman. You also mentioned the ongoing ICC and accountability campaign of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, aimed at encouraging ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute, promoting effective cooperation with the court, and contributing to better understanding of the court. I should like to say how much the ICC appreciates such support; it is most interested, of course, in seeing it continue.
The court is now fully operational, but this does not mean it can act alone. It needs more than ever the practical, political, and moral support of countries like Canada in order to succeed.
I thank you very much.
You will understand, of course, that I cannot comment on specific situations, but I would make two points.
One is that the criterion the prosecutor has been using to determine whether he starts an investigation is gravity. He is going to start an investigation where, for example, the number of victims is very high and not where the number of victims is very low because the court has not been created to deal with everything, everywhere, but rather to deal with the most serious situations of crimes and probably within each situation with a limited number of individuals.
He certainly has made it clear in the situation that you mentioned that he would make no difference--if the criterion of gravity is met--between people who belong to one side of the story or the other. He has made that very clear.
With respect to the second situation you mentioned, that brings me back to ratification. Africa has ratified the statute of the court massively, for different reasons than Canada and the Europeans have ratified the court statute.
In the case of countries like ours, states have ratified the statutes because of humanitarian values and because they thought the court would be a contribution to regional stability--if crimes diminish, the flows of refugees, malnutrition, all these disruptions, are avoided.
African states ratified the statute because they saw the court as a protection in the future against the crimes they had suffered on their own territory. They said very clearly, we know what the consequences of those crimes are; we want legal protection.
My point in this is that if a state feels vulnerable one way or another, the best way of obtaining that legal protection is to ratify the statute. The court is bound in law not to go beyond the statute, obviously. It cannot deal with situations pertaining to non-states parties unless the Security Council intervenes.
The court executes, applies the statute; it cannot re-interpret the statute loosely.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
In the coming month, this committee will be examining Canada's role in complex international interventions. I am pleased that Haiti is part of that process, because Canada's role there is a very special one. Thank you for the opportunity to explain to you how CIDA is helping to meet the needs of Haitians.
I know that other people, including Minister MacKay, have previously spoken to you about Canada's engagement and security issues. Accordingly, I would like to focus on the unique reasons that make Haiti a country of key importance to CIDA.
Haiti is a fragile state. It is the poorest country in the Americas. Canada has extensive experience in Haiti, winning Haitians' trust and friendship over the years. Moreover, the sizeable Haitian diaspora living in Canada can serve as an intermediary in rebuilding the country.
If strong action is not taken in the short, medium and long terms jointly by the international community and the Government of Haiti, the country could deteriorate even further.
The indicators are distressing, and are comparable to those of the poorest countries in Africa. Haiti is ranked 153rd on the Human Development Index, out of a list of 177 countries. Life expectancy is 52 years. The mortality rate for children 5 and younger is over 10% The adult literacy rate is 52% Average per-capita income is US$390 a year. That's barely more than one dollar a day. Imagine living on only one dollar a day!
Canada has maintained official relations with Haiti since 1968. Ties between the two countries were forged long before that, however, mainly through the presence of Canadian religious communities that were active in Haiti starting in the early years of the last century, laying the foundations for a health and education system.
CIDA's programming in Haiti has steadily expanded, except for a brief hiatus between 1991 and 1994, during the military dictatorship. Between 2001 and 2004, a lack of political will by the Aristide government caused a slow-down in our actions with the country's institutions.
Now, Canadian cooperation has picked up again with the arrival of the transitional government in 2004. In the past two years, we have spent over $190 million on Haiti's stabilization and reconstruction, and an additional $15 million was announced last Saturday by my colleague, Minister MacKay.
The Canadian government has put in place a broad-based approach: diplomacy, defence and development. Security, poverty reduction and sustainable development are closely linked, and mutually strengthen one another.
Our approach is not just cross-government, it is also pan-Canadian. It is based on a whole network of Canadian partners in federal and provincial departments, the private sector, NGOs and civil society, including the Haitian diaspora. Our approach is also based on close international cooperation, as set out in the Interim Cooperation Framework which I will come back to in a moment, and reflects the priorities expressed by Haiti.
Mr. Chairman, the arrival of an elected government gives us greater optimism about Haiti's future. Haitian society is changing, and many development-friendly agents are in play. Let me point to two strong examples. Local press and radio are engaging in freedom of expression, and using increased access to information to raise citizens' awareness of their rights and the actions of the government. Change is also characterized by the establishment of various associations and the emergence of a dynamic, diversified civil society that is playing a larger part in dialogue with the government and is engaged in development activities.
CIDA supports all agents of responsible change, including institutions, individuals and movements and associations, like the Haitian women's movement. Our approach is both flexible and dynamic, and is designed to foster a national consensus.
Now l'd like to come back to the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF), which is fully supported by the Haitian government and the donor community.
Canada has taken on a leading role in planning and implementing the ICF, and is the second-largest bilateral donor, after the United States. Our programming centres on the four main points of the ICF: political governance, economic governance, economic recovery, access to basic services.
On political governance, special attention has been given to the electoral process, so that democracy can take root in the country, as well as to strengthening the Justice Ministry and the Haitian National Police. Other actions have been taken to promote human rights, such as the establishment of legal clinics and the dissemination of information on citizens' rights.
We are currently setting up a project to support parliamentarians, which among other things will provide training on sound governance and the management of human and material resources to ensure the Haitian Parliament operates as effectively as possible.
CIDA's actions with respect to the second point, economic governance, centre on local development. In rural areas, development committees have been struck and community development plans prepared jointly with all local actors, so that they can take their development into their own hands. In all its activities, CIDA encourages the participation of women in economic life and decision-making processes.
The third point is economic recovery. We are helping to strengthen the electricity distribution network, job creation, microfinancing and agricultural development. We are also working on environmental protection and renewal. Here are some tangible examples.
In the city of Jacmel, residents now have regular, high-quality electricity service. This achievement is much appreciated by residents, over 90% of whom pay their bills. Unheard oil! A dynamic network of over 60 credit unions has been set up; 48% of the individuals who have obtained financing from these credit unions are women. Five thousand short-term jobs have been created in disadvantaged communities.
The fourth point is access to basic services, meaning basic education, health, vaccination, HIV/AIDS prevention, and nutrition. Our contributions have helped to boost school attendance and are resulting in the vaccination of hundreds of thousands of children against measles, polio, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.
In addition to financial contributions to Haiti through international financial institutions (the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank), CIDA is working to strengthen ties with Latin American countries, the Organization of American States, and CARICOM. We believe it is essential for Haiti to become an active partner in the hemisphere again.
In addition to financial contributions to Haiti through international financial institutions—the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank—CIDA is working to strengthen ties with Latin American countries, the Organization of American States, and CARICOM. We believe it's essential for Haiti to become an active partner in the hemisphere again.
I have given you a very tangible depiction of our engagement in Haiti. But our cooperation with Haitians goes well beyond those tangible elements.
We have acquired solid credibility and have considerable influence with Haitian leaders, civil society and the donor community. That is because we have always accompanied words with actions. Canada has used its leadership to mobilize other donors; it has led by example by being one of the largest donors and maintaining a strong presence on the ground.
We have provided high-level advisors to the transitional government, which has been able to provide the new government with a white paper outlining the progress achieved to date.
We are continuing in the SaInevein, by providing a technical advisor to President Préval's transition team, as requested following his election.
That being said, I would like to point out that the first indications on the new elected government's priorities are positive and encouraging.
I would also like to applaud the efforts of the Haitian people, who are demonstrating healthy openness, a keen desire for change, and a great deal of courage.
Yes, our actions in Haiti involve substantial risks. Yes, we are working in a very complex environment. Yes, institutional capacities are very weak. But we are in the process of changing things. Our labours are bearing fruit, and opening up prospects for the future that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
Thank you very much, Minister. As you mentioned, Haiti has just experienced some very significant moments in its 100-year history.
The presidential election brought record voter turnout for Haiti, and a number of political parties elected representatives in the legislative elections. I emphasize the fact that President Préval's party did not get a majority, nor did any other political party; no party has a majority in the Commons.
I would also mention the rapid elections of speakers in the two Houses, and the appointment of a Prime Minister, Jacques Edouard Alexis, who was quickly confirmed by both Houses.
Haiti now has a new start. Last weekend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who made a very brief visit to Haiti to meet President Préval, said that the Canadian government will invest $15 million in small projects.
Without setting aside long-term projects such as security and good governance, health and education, can you tell us about the scope of these small projects, because small projects very often make a big difference in the everyday lives of people, particularly the most disadvantaged?
In your opening statement, you also referred to support for parliamentarians. Canada, through the Parliamentary Centre, will be holding information seminars to enhance the skills and role of Haitian parliamentarians. To work effectively, parliamentarians need essential tools, ranging from offices to new information technologies to support them in their work.
The Haitian Senate sits on premises that are completely supplied, equipped and paid for by the Government of Quebec. The House of Representatives doesn't even have premises on which to meet.
Would you agree to allow the Canadian government, through CIDA, to finance premises in one way or another so that parliamentarians can really perform their work in a descent manner?
Thank you for appearing here, Madam Minister.
Having just come back from Haiti myself, over the elections, what strikes me most is the tragedy of it all. It's visiting a country that looks as though it's been in an economic time warp for 50 to 60 years, but looking behind it, you see what must have been a relatively prosperous country some 60 years ago.
So I certainly would agree, looking over the last 60-year history, that one of the first places to start is with the governance, because obviously that's what caused the country to go into its decline. It was good to see the level it has achieved.
We were there during the elections. Many had said that the 30% turnout was low. I would say it was a good turnout considering that it wasn't the presidential election but rather an election of members of Parliament. More so than that, a half-full glass, it was also very positive because there were very few disturbances that went on. So the people involved, and Mr. Kingsley and Elections Canada, are to be commended for that.
You discussed some of the other aid projects. I'm pleased that Canada is taking another look at the projects and committing more funding, because there's so much desperate need in the country, and it's more a matter of trying to decide where the assistance is going to be directed.
There was one aid project that we did visit, and that was in the town of Jacmel. In speaking to the mayor of that town, who was just bubbling over with the pleasure of it, since it had been such a contributor to his community for the past 10 years, the major complaint he mentioned was the fact that it caused something like three new hotels and businesses to come into the community, and now they're going to be faced with other forms of infrastructure needs to take the increase in population.
There was a difficulty with that project I could see, and I see it more from the original contract formation and the follow-up to it. There was a lot of talk about these contracts and plans having a long-term commitment to them. That generator plant has been there for 10 years now. One of the generators was completely shut down and was on the floor and was in very major need of maintenance. The electricity has been shut off for some six hours a day, and the reasoning given for that was there were no allowances made for increasing the cost of the electricity for the increase in the world market price of oil. It's one of those basic things, coming from a business background, that I just simply can't believe could be missed when we're putting forward a plan to help and assist an area.
Obviously, there's a great response from the community in paying their bills, and they're accustomed to doing this. Certainly they're paying world price for gas for their cars, so I don't think they'd have a problem with paying a fair price for their electricity.
So my question, Madam Minister, with respect to that project and others that we are looking at, is this. Are you looking at these projects with an eye to foreseeing some of these future, down-the-road difficulties so that the project could be made much more sustainable and lasting in the long-term? Given that the electrical system there in Jacmel obviously transformed that community, there could be reasons to replicate that in other areas.
: Merci, madame la ministre.
Thank you, Mr. Goldring.
Education, clearly, is one of the major challenges in Haiti. I think it's probably a unique situation in the world that 85% of the educational system is in the private sector, with very unequal degrees of quality, as you can imagine. One of the major issues in Haiti is for the state to regain control of the quality of the education and to play its normative, regulatory role.
President Préval, when he was first elected in February, immediately engaged in discussions with the World Bank in order for them to take some leadership with the international community to define a project. He specifically has in mind to have every child going to primary school and for every child to be fed at least one meal a day so that they can learn adequately. Certainly, this is something that we very much value and would support.
Until the actual plan of investment in the educational sector is performed, at this point we have been continuing local development projects in the schooling system, and we are in a number of regions.
When you mentioned the notion of a 30% participation in the legislative...I think it's a reflection of two things. One, in that country the president is master of everything, so once he's elected there is not as much interest in members of Parliament, with all the respect I have for the colleagues around the table. This is one reason.
The other reason is we have to increase the notion of civic education. CIDA, in the lead-up to the elections, did fund a number of local NGOs to do exactly that, to engage citizens about their right. It is a political right. This is a human rights issue for them to go and vote, and to sensitize them.... We used the journalists, as the minister has just said, to try to raise this issue, but you have a population that is not very literate, that cannot afford a newspaper. Certainly we've worked a lot through the radio, because they do listen to the radio.
So there's the aspect of having an educational plan that is normative, in which there will be the ownership by the government. We are going to support that plan when it is fully developed, and I think that should be done in about a year's time.
The second portion is the whole notion of civic education. This is certainly something that, in the dialogue we can have with the international community and the government, we can ensure that it is part and parcel of the educational system.
Thank you for being before the committee, Madam Verner.
You've reminded us that Haiti is ranked number 153 out of 177 countries on the human development index and is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. You've also expressed concern about the alarming increase in HIV/AIDS in Haiti.
My questions arise from those two points you've brought forward. A couple are of a more general nature and one is quite specific to Haiti.
You will know, I'm sure, that this committee passed unanimously--and then subsequently Parliament passed unanimously--a motion calling upon the government of the day, then Liberal, to accelerate its commitment to meeting our overseas development assistance obligations, and specifically to move more quickly to meet the 0.7% level of ODA.
Obviously this would impact on what kinds of commitments we're able to make to Haiti. I might say that when Mr. Greenhill appeared before this committee last year, he argued that we should accelerate that program, thus influencing somewhat the committee's position.
My first question is whether we can count on you to respect that consensus and champion that position, because if the Minister of International Cooperation doesn't, I'm not sure who will.
Second, you will also know that there's been a consensus among the parties about the necessity of having international development legislation to make clear the mandate to underscore poverty as the principal goal.... Again, Haiti would be a beneficiary of our doing so. Can we count on you to help us fast-track the commitment to bringing in that kind of legislation as soon as possible?
Third, you will know that TB is a leading killer of persons living with AIDS. In the context of Haiti, I believe I'm correct in saying that Haiti's TB program has been funded 100% by the global drug facility fund, to which Canada is a major donor, and there is no question that the TB programming is highly cost-effective in dollar terms and in terms of saving lives. I'm not as certain about the incidence of malaria in Haiti. I'd be interested in any comments you would have on that--but there is actually a concern about the possibility that CIDA may cut back on its commitment to TB programming and malaria programming.
Can you enlighten the committee on that, and plead the case for Canada to do the opposite of any possibility of any cutbacks, because of the cost-effectiveness and how important it is for Haiti and other countries?