63th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Declaration on behalf of the European Union on :
Report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994 (item 67)
Report of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 (item 68)
Statement delivered by H.E. Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
This year, once again, the European Union intends to reaffirm its unwavering support for the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. As Mr. Pocar, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Mr. Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, have recalled, these Tribunals have made major strides. The European Union thanks both of them for their excellent reports and commends their efforts to successfully complete the work of these Tribunals in accordance with the completion strategy specified by the Security Council.
It is still too early to undertake a final review of the work of these courts whose job is not completely done; however, we can already underscore their contributions and what they have achieved thus far.
First, since these Tribunals were set up, they have embodied the exigency of fighting impunity which is an inspiration to the international community as well as the refusal to let the perpetrators of heinous, morally outrageous crimes escape justice. In this respect, they were forerunners by setting a jurisprudence, which is a source of inspiration for all national and international jurisdictions which shall know about these crimes. Their record bears this out. International criminal justice does exist and it will prevail sooner or later so that the perpetrators will have to answer for their heinous crimes.
Second, from a quantitative standpoint the work of both these Tribunals has been most impressive. The numbers provided by their presidents speak for themselves. If we add the cases of a lesser importance assigned to national jurisdictions, few perpetrators, aside from those who are still on the run, are still at large. In this respect, the European Union would like to pay special tribute to the work of these Tribunal employees - especially judges, prosecutors and registrars - who have redoubled their efforts to meet the assigned time limits in accordance with the completion strategy. The support provided by the judges ad litem should allow the courts to complete the ongoing proceedings within the specified time limits.
Last June, the arrests of Stojan Zupljanin and, after thirteen years at large, of Radovan Karadzic, represents a major breakthrough for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The European Union would like to commend Serbia’s cooperation, which made this long-anticipated development possible. In this regard, it would like to recall that full cooperation with the ICTY was essential to the EU stabilization and association strategy towards all countries in the region. This cooperation influences the progress of the rapprochement process between the EU and these countries.
We now expect Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic to be arrested. We hope that the continued cooperation between the States of the region and the Tribunal will help their capture in the very near future.
With regards to the ICTR, the overall record is extremely positive even if we regret that thirteen accused have escaped justice, including Félicien Kabuga. The European Union urges all States to improve their cooperation with the ICTR and fulfil their obligations as regards the arrest and return of the accused at large. In this context we call on the Kenyan Government to do their utmost to secure the arrest and surrender of Felicien Kabuga to Arusha.
Strengthening the Rwandan legal system and improving its ability to judge transferred cases from the ICTR are also goals which the European Union fully supports. In fact, it notes with appreciation the efforts made by Rwanda to meet the demands regarding the right to a fair trial, and hopes that these efforts will allow the ICTR to transfer lower-ranked defendants before the Rwandan courts. The transfer of such defendants is an important part of the Tribunal’s completion strategy. It is to the judges to decide whether its implementation is possible.
The Tribunals are approaching the end of their completion strategy.
These two Tribunals were not intended to be permanent and will cease to exist when the Security Council deems that the job for which they were set up has been accomplished. We are looking forward to this moment as it will mark the end of the Tribunals’ mission and confirm their undisputed success. One thing must, however, be clear: high level fugitives such as Mladic, Hadzic and Kabuga must be judged by an international tribunal and cannot count on impunity and on being forgotten.
It is important that the Tribunals are granted appropriate resources to enable them to meet the completion strategy time limits set by the Security Council as regards ongoing proceedings. The EU acknowledges that arrests of Zupjlanin and Karadzic will most likely lead to these deadlines being revised, as the trial of these men cannot be rushed. The same will be true for the other high level fugitives if, as hoped, they are soon caught. We also understand that the transfer of low-ranking defendants before the national jurisdictions is not easy to decide. We must, however, emphasize that the Tribunals must continue to make all necessary efforts to complete their work within the Security Council time frames.
The European Union is committed to preserving the legacy of the Tribunals after their closure. We believe that if there are still high-ranking fugitives at large upon completion of the Tribunals, a mechanism must be set up which can rebuild the capacity to try them once they are arrested. Furthermore, we are determined that this mechanism, which must be streamlined, efficient and economical, allow to manage residual functions which must be maintained for the purposes of administration of justice in conditions of equity and safety. Finally, we believe that the United Nations should maintain ownership and control over the Tribunals’ records.
In general, the European Union believes that it is the duty of the United Nations to guarantee the integrity and continuity of the Tribunals’ legacy. The completion of their work should in no way signal an end to their mission of spreading international justice and the principles that led to their creation: the rejection of impunity and the will for justice to be served.