12 June 2013 - Security Council - Debate on the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Chargé d’Affaires a.i of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank President Meron, President Joensen and Prosecutors Jallow and Brammertz for their briefings. France associates itself with the statement to be delivered later by the observer of the European Union.
This year we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of resolution 827 (1993), which created the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Security Council commemorated the event on 28 May. In 20 years, the region has recovered its human face. The political dialogue has continued to make progress under the auspices of the European Union. The Tribunal, guarantor of the right to the truth, the fight against impunity and the duty to remember, has played its full part in that evolution. It has not been ideal, of course; the political rhetoric and denial of some crimes, and the lack of regional cooperation in bringing intermediate-level criminals to trial are still cause for concern. But the course has held steady.
The Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have anchored the United Nations in an era that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the age of accountability. As they prepare to bring their work to a close, another body, this one permanent and with a universal jurisdiction, endowed by a statute that reflects the great juridical traditions, has already taken up the baton. The shadow of the International Criminal Court (ICC) continues to lengthen, with the Rome Statute hanging like a sword of Damocles over those who torture, recruit children or commit sexual violence. The Secretary-General’s determined policy in promoting human rights, avoiding contact with those wanted by the ICC and instructing mediators not to consider amnesty or immunity for perpetrators of serious crimes has done a great deal to strengthen the impact of international justice, and we salute his efforts.
Regarding the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, I commend the efforts that it has made to stick to its work deadlines as far as possible. I should also confirm our concern to receive full information from the Tribunal about the two cases that have been referred to French jurisdiction, those concerning Mr. Bucyibaruta and Mr. Munyeshyaka. The French authorities pay full attention to issues raised by the Tribunal with regard to those proceedings.
While the Tribunal works to conclude its activities, we should remain vigilant; three high-ranking fugitives, whose arrest is a priority, are still at large — Félicien Kabuga, Augustin Bizimana and Protais Mpiranya. They will be tried by the Residual Mechanism when they are apprehended, and we must ensure that the Mechanism has sufficient resources to allow it to see that task through. I should point out that the Council’s resolutions mandate universal cooperation with the ICTR, and it is important that the Council remind everyone of that obligation. Regarding assistance to the Tribunal, moreover, the relocation of those who have been acquitted or who have completed their sentences after having been found guilty is a matter that we are seriously focused on. France was among the first to admit several individuals to its territory at the Tribunal’s request. We hope that more States will grant entry to such people.
The Tribunal has positioned the issue of justice at the heart of our concerns in the region. The ICC is continuing that work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today we are pleased to see the work of international justice completed at the political level by the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region. Its aim is to strengthen the integration of the States in the region and to put an end to decades of instability and mistrust by tackling the root causes of tension.
For its part, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is now managing some very complex cases, which explains the slippage in its timetable. We hope that it will conclude its work as soon as possible, though nothing should undermine its capacity to see that justice is served. I should recall that the decisions of the international criminal justice system apply to all, something that is as true for the ad hoc Tribunals as for the International Criminal Court.
We are also obliged to respect the victims. Every decision of the Tribunal has confirmed that atrocities were committed in the region of the former Yugoslavia by all parties. The ICTY has designated the Srebrenica massacre as genocide — soldiers were disarmed and executed, in violation of the law, ethnic cleansing campaigns took place and members of ethnic minorities were persecuted.
While the international Tribunals are bringing their work to a close, the responsibility of the States in the region to commit to combating impunity must now take centre stage. As I said previously, we are not entirely convinced that the countries of the region have mobilized to continue those efforts at the local level. And regional cooperation remains inadequate. For France, as a member of the European Union, full cooperation with the ICTY, as well as regional cooperation, remains a major consideration and an essential obligation within the framework of the stabilization and association process for candidate and potential candidate countries for membership.
The historic agreement of 19 April between Serbia and Kosovo, reached under the auspices of the European Union, creates a new context that brings hope for stability in the region, the future of the peoples involved and the European prospects for those two States. We hope that the spirit that made that agreement possible, one that promotes justice and rejects impunity, will enable them to definitively turn the page on the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Ambassador of Guatemala, Chair of the Informal Working Group on the International Tribunals, his entire team, the representatives of the Tribunals and the staff of the Office of Legal Affairs for their efforts in accomplishing the transition provided for in resolution 1966 (2010).
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