Unveiling of Australian artwork gift to ICC, words by TFV Executive Director Pieter de Baan


The Hague, 31st May 2021


Ambassador Neuhaus,

Your Excellencies


Today’s event illustrates Australia’s unrelenting support to the institutions of the Rome Statute system, and what they stand for.

Justice and healing go together. Ahead of any ambition to redress harm from injustice and crimes, should come the recognition of dignity. In line with this year’s motto of Australia’s National Reconciliation week, reparations at the ICC must strive, “towards braver and more impactful action”, and take shape in relation to the longevity and deepness of suffering, until the long awaited moment of justice.

While we happen to be all white, middle-aged men standing here, celebrating this occasion, we should be mindful of the necessary place of women in judicial and reparative action. Especially given the artwork’s theme of indigenous law and justice with women at the centre. Women are to be represented by their own voice, in their own space, and by their own dreams.

The artwork, Ngayuku Mamaku Ngura, My Father’s Country, by the artist Kunmanara connects the universal aspiration of law to her community’s unique appreciation of lawfulness and dignity. The Rome Statute’s ambition of reparative justice should aspire to do the same.

Reconciliation, as an expression of justice and healing, is hard to define, and it may be even harder to achieve. Reconciliation cannot be imposed from outside, and requires thoughtfulness, careful listening, perseverance, and ownership in the community.

This is true, too, in the ICC situation countries where the Trust Fund for Victims operates, together with its locally based implementing partners. In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “caravane de la paix”, or “peace caravan”, promoted conflict mediation amongst communities by addressing the root causes of the crimes prosecuted at the ICC - and then it spawned an intercommunal initiative, of openly discussing their “histoire partagee”, or “shared history”, which runs much deeper than the legal truth pursued in a Court room.

In the Al Mahdi case, the destruction of historical mausolea in Timbuktu, Mali, was an attack on a long-cherished belief system. The Court’s recognition of the resulting moral harm, shared and individually experienced, has translated into thoughtful reparations awards, which created space for both female and male individual victims to have their specific harm recognised, and addressed.

Your Excellency, Ambassador Neuhaus, the Trust Fund is grateful for the continued financial support from Australia with a total amount of over EUR 1,4 million since 2010. Your Government’s decision to earmark this year’s contribution of AUD 300 thousand to reparations in the Ntaganda case, and with a focus on addressing the harm suffered from sexual crimes, is an inspiring example of the support needed to make reparative justice a meaningful reality for victims. This is the first ever earmarked voluntary contribution from States Parties to reparations in the Ntaganda case. It will further inspire the Trust Fund to develop and implement a programme that is responsive to the Court’s reparations order, and which resonates with the reparative rights of the victims in this case.

Your Government’s continued support, connecting national and international reparative ambitions, is deeply appreciated by the Trust Fund’s Board of Directors and staff. May it inspire others to come forward to support and strengthen the work of the Trust Fund for Victims in delivering reparative justice to victim survivors of the gravest crimes.

Thank you.