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9 October 2012 - Security Council - Special Court for Sierra Leone - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Allow me at the outset to thank Ms. Fisher, President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Prosecutor of the Court for their briefings, and, more generally, the entire Special Court team for the job that they have done. I also welcome the presence here and the statement made by Mrs. Ebun Jusu, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone. France endorses the presidential statement drafted by the United Kingdom to commend the work of the Court.

The seriousness of the crimes perpetrated during the civil war called for a response commensurate with the gravity of the violations committed. That is why France has provided, since the inception of the Court in 2002, its full political support for the actions of this criminal court, which was jointly established by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations.

As we all know, the Court will conclude its work in September 2013. Its legacy is vast: the indictment of a head of State while still in office and his arrest, at a time many deemed inappropriate, have shown that arresting those who massacre civilians so as to seize or remain in power is indeed possible and effective, and that this serves the cause of peace and justice.

That is a lesson that can be applied to other cases, such as that of Bosco Ntaganda, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who formerly was a pillar of the Congrès national pour la défense du people but today is a henchman of the M-23 movement. Among the historic decisions of the Court, we note the judgement of Charles Taylor, of 30 May 2012, on which the Council has expressed its views. We welcome the jurisprudence of the Court on sensitive issues, including the recruitment of child soldiers and forced marriage.

The capacity of the Court to transfer its activities to a residual mechanism and to national courts will also be valuable as an example for other special courts. We noted the particular concerns expressed with respect to ensuring the long-term protection of witnesses. That is a key concern for all of the international criminal courts. Lastly, we wish to highlight the assessment, financed by the European Union and described in the report, which underscores that more than 75 per cent of the people of Sierra Leone and of Liberia believe that the Tribunal has advanced the cause of justice and that an even greater number believe that the Court has served the cause of peace. These are numbers that we will need to bear in mind when, in several days, we will hold our debate on international justice. When the Security Council enables justice to take its course by doing what is necessary and by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions, justice, in turn, can serve the cause of stability.

Today we have in place a standing system of justice with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the Council can resort to, under Chapter VII of the Charter, at any time and on any situation. This makes the creation of new special courts obsolete in the areas of the ICC’s jurisdiction: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The inception and the activities of the Court have illustrated the at times tragic interplay of the history of the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone and the manner in which the fragility of one country can affect another. But it also shows how the United Nations can contribute, by means of holistic strategies, to putting an end to crises. The Security Council was for instance able to assess, during its visit to Sierra Leone last May, the progress made: the holding of elections in November, democratic oversight, non-interference on the part of the army, the success of demobilization efforts and economic growth. There is no doubt that the Court has also contributed to those developments.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU