5 June 2014 - Security Council - Debate on the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Reprensentative of France to the United Nations
I wish to thank President Meron, President Joensen, Prosecutor Jallow and Prosecutor Brammertz for their briefings.
France would like to express its appreciation to the entire staff of the Tribunals for the work they have done to bring the work of the Tribunals to completion. We have the sense that everything is being done to abide by the timetables so that the individual trials and for appeals in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) can be conducted in satisfactory conditions. We also unreservedly support the extension of the mandates for the Prosecutors and Judges.
I would also like to take this opportunity to recall once again the contribution made by the two Tribunals in the fight against impunity. I would also like to note the road that lies ahead as we seek to ensure that the work of justice can continue and will not be undermined.
In 2013, we commemorated the twentieth anniversary of resolution 827 (1993), which established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. In 20 years, the region has found a human face again. Dialogue continues under the aegis of the European Union, particularly between Belgrade and Pristina. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which has worked to protect rights, fight against impunity and uphold the right to memory, has played a major full role in those processes. Today it seems normal to see individuals like Mr. Karadžić and Mr. Hadžić being judged in court. No one thought years ago that they would have to answer for their crimes.
The work that remains to be done is primarily tasks that fall within the political and judicial responsibility of the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Political rhetoric, criticizing this or that judicial ruling, has no place in the rule of law, where the judiciary and its independence must always be respected. The trials of intermediary criminals will require strengthened efforts, both domestically and in the area of regional cooperation. The right of victims to respect is also essential.
With regard to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in resolution 2150 (2014) the Council has commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the genocide. We welcome the fact that the resolution recognizes the contribution of the ICTR. The Tribunal has put justice at the centre of its concerns in the region. The ICTR continues its work, and efforts at the international level have continued, even in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are pleased to see that international criminal justice has been supported at the political level within the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. That agreement is aimed at bolstering cooperation among the States of the region and at putting an end to decades of instability and mistrust that have led to great tension. We cannot be complacent, however. The civilian population in the Great Lakes region remains victimized by repeated waves of violence. Sexual violence continues on a large scale, and the Tribunals have tried to eliminate such actions. We must therefore remain vigilant.
The work of justice is the work of all of us. I should like to confirm that the trials are continuing in the two cases that have been sent to French jurisdictions, namely, those of Mr. Bucyibaruta and Mr. Munyeshyaka. The French authorities are proceeding very carefully in those cases. As the Council is aware, other cases against individuals accused of genocide are also before the courts. At the same time, France confirms its willingness to continue to support the ICTR and the Residual Mechanism, seeking responses to the challenge that they face and that we have been reminded of today: the relocation of those who have been acquitted or have served their sentences and the search for the nine fugitives sought by the ICTR — Félicien Kabuga, Augustin Bizimana and Protais Mpiranya, among others.
On the second point, France draws attention to the obligation of all States to cooperate with the Tribunal and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The three fugitives must be brought before the Residual Mechanism when they have been apprehended. We must ensure that the Mechanism has the appropriate resources to complete its mission.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have been fundamental for the United Nations in this era, which Mr. Ban Ki-moon has called the era of accountability. The work of the Tribunals is coming to an end, but another permanent tribunal with universal jurisdiction exists, endowed with a statute that reflects the main judicial traditions, namely the International Criminal Court. I commend the unflagging support of the Secretary-General for the Court. We very much hope that such support will continue to be shown throughout the Secretariat in all departments and that each representative of the Secretary-General on the ground will provide an echo of that support.
France deeply regrets that some States have failed to avail themselves of the unique opportunity that we have with the International Criminal Court in pursuing all alleged authors of revolting crimes, and have been trying to reverse the course of history. Their presence today has given criminals and their protectors immunity. That is unfortunately the signal sent by two States represented at this table in exercising their veto on draft resolution S/2014/348, which referred the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
In conclusion, I thank the Ambassador of Chile, Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, his entire team, and the representatives of the International Criminal Tribunals and of the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat for their efforts to implement the transition provided for by resolution 1966 (2010). The programme outlined to us by Mr. Barros Melet is ambitious, and we are ready to support it.
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