Senator Varun Ghosh – Estimates questions regarding Australia’s voting record on Palestine at the UN, and the ICC’s recent application for arrest warrants relating to Israel

June 3, 2024

Thank you. I want to ask some questions about the International Criminal Court. Are you able to provide an update on the ICC prosecutor’s recent application for arrest warrants? In particular, has the court made a decision on those applications?

Senator GHOSH: Thank you to the officials for your assistance today. How many countries voted for the resolution on 10 May?

Ms Adams : One hundred and forty-three countries, Senator.

Senator GHOSH: How did the countries of ASEAN vote?

Mr Maclachlan: All in favour.

Senator GHOSH: Does the resolution support a two-state solution? If so, are you able to elaborate on how it does that?

Mr Innes-Brown : Yes, it does. It’s clear in articulating its unwavering support for a two-state solution.

Senator GHOSH: Does Hamas support a two-state solution, as far as you’re aware?

Mr Innes-Brown : No. Hamas is fundamentally opposed to a two-state solution. It’s seeking the destruction or elimination of the State of Israel.

Senator GHOSH: Thank you. I want to ask some questions about the International Criminal Court. Are you able to provide an update on the ICC prosecutor’s recent application for arrest warrants? In particular, has the court made a decision on those applications?

Ms McKenna : On 20 May, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he was, on that day, filing an application for arrest warrants. The court’s pre-trial chamber will now consider whether or not to authorise those warrants.

Senator GHOSH: When did Australia become a part to the Rome Statute?

Ms McKenna : Australia signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998, and we deposited our instrument of ratification on 1 July 2002, becoming a full-state party.

Senator GHOSH: Has Australia’s commitment to the ICC and the Rome Statute been consistent since then?

Ms McKenna : Yes, Senator, it has.

Senator GHOSH: How does our support for the Rome Statute and the ICC advance our national interests?

Ms McKenna : As the foreign minister has said, Australia has an interest in a multi-lateral system that is strong and robust. International courts and tribunals make an important contribution to upholding international law, as institutional pillars of the rules based order. It is in Australia’s interests for international law to be upheld, globally and in our own region, and we respect the role of the International Criminal Court in upholding international law. This aligns with some of the considerations that were articulated at the time that Australia ratified the statute of the court, and those were articulated in the national interest analysis that was tabled in parliament at the time of Australia’s ratification.

That national interest analysis noted that Australia played a leading role in the negotiation of the statute, because it was in Australia’s national interest for there to be a permanent international judicial body which could deal with the graver crimes that would be within the court’s jurisdiction. That national interest analysis further noted that the commission of those crimes posed a threat not only to individual countries but to the international community as a whole, and that Australia’s national interest was best served by a peaceful international community and, therefore, also by the creation of a mechanism which could contribute to international peace and security.

Senator GHOSH: That national interest analysis remains relevant today?

Ms McKenna : Yes.

Senator GHOSH: May I go back to the resolution of 10 May, please. Are you able to outline what that resolution does and does not do on the basis of the terms of that resolution?

Mr Innes-Brown : What it does do, as Mr Maclachlan said earlier, is give the Palestinian observer mission some modest additional rights in the UN. That includes the ability to make statements, submit proposals, co-sponsor proposals, raise procedural motions and be seated amongst member states. It is set out in the annexe of that resolution; there is quite a bit of detail there. But what it doesn’t do, as Mr Maclachlan said, is it does not give the Palestinian observer mission membership of the UN, and it also does not give it a right to vote or put forward candidates to UN organs. The question of membership has been traversed earlier and is a matter for the Security Council. Our support for it, as has been explained earlier, doesn’t of course constitute bilateral recognition of a state of Palestine.

Senator GHOSH: Thank you.

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