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4 June 2009 - Security Council: ICTY and ICTR - Statement by Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(translated from French)

At the outset, Mr. President, I would like to express our great satisfaction in seeing you assume presidency of the Security Council. We assure you of our support for the Turkish delegation in the exercise of its presidency. We also express our gratitude to the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation and his delegation for the great skill with which they stewarded the work of the Council last month.

I would like to welcome the presence of the Prime Minister of Croatia, His Excellency Mr. Ivo Sanader, in the Security Council today.

I would also like to thank the Presidents and Prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia for presenting their six-monthly reports. These briefings clearly confirm that the deadline laid down in 2003 and 2004 in the completion strategy for the Tribunals will be missed and that their work will continue beyond 2010. Constraints of procedure, the vagaries of justice, belated arrests of fugitives and, for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the obstacles to referring low-ranking indictees to national jurisdictions explain this delay in the timetable. Whatever the case, the Security Council must now take into account the reality of a horizon for the completion of appeals delayed until the first half of 2013 and draw the necessary conclusions from that.

The first thing to be done is to equip the Tribunals with the means to carry out the trials and appeals as soon as possible, in full respect for the rules of fairness and justice. In this regard, the joint request of the two Tribunals concerning redeployment of trial judges to the shared Appeals Chamber reflects to real need and must be honoured.

We also welcome the principle of extending the terms of office of permanent and ad litem judges. The Working Group on international tribunals will have to propose modalities for this extension, but we hope that the decision taken by the Council will clearly establish its resolve to ensure that the Tribunals are in a position to carry out their work to the very end.

Affording the Tribunals appropriate predictability is a necessity, especially in order to maintain the quality of staff, whose members, forced into a state of uncertainty, are inevitably tempted to seek more stable jobs. The success of the completion strategy obviously depends on the participation of a qualified and motivated staff, and the current attrition rate is worrying in this regard. The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) made that point earlier.

Once again, I would like to express to the Tribunals and their staff France’s appreciation for the considerable efforts that they will have to make in the difficult phase of completing their work. I would highlight with satisfaction the ongoing efforts to improve the management of proceedings, which will make it possible to intensify the rate at which the Trial and Appeals Chambers work.

The activities of the Prosecutors are also essential, especially with respect to tracking down fugitives, whose arrest and transfer to the Tribunals are a priority. The existence of fugitives from justice is one of the main elements of uncertainty looming over the completion strategy, but the mission of the Tribunals will not be fully completed as long as those accused have not been arrested and tried.

We are firmly committed to the principle that those responsible for the most heinous crimes must be tried by the International Criminal Tribunals. The arrest of Mr. Karadžić was a major breakthrough for the ICTY. We now await those of Mr. Mladić and Mr. Hadžić, and we note with satisfaction Prosecutor Brammertz’s positive assessment of the cooperation of the Serbian authorities in this connection. Once again, I would like to recall that full cooperation with the ICTY, be it in the search for fugitives or the conduct of proceedings, is an essential element of the stabilization and association strategy vis-à-vis all the countries of the region of the former Yugoslavia, which is a strategy that the European Union is pursuing. We call on all of these countries to extend all necessary assistance to the Tribunal.

With regard to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 13 accused, four of whom are high-ranking indictees, are still at large. We call on all States concerned to afford Prosecutor Jallow the requisite cooperation. In particular, we call on Kenya to honour its obligations to arrest and hand over Félicien Kabuga to the ICTR.

We hail the efforts made by Rwanda to reform its legislation in order to lift all legal obstacles to transferring cases to its jurisdiction and allowing low-ranking fugitives not to be tried by the Tribunal. I would like to recall that if the fugitive issue is not resolved quickly, it will have to be dealt with in the context of managing the legacy of the Tribunals, because it would be unacceptable for their closure to represent impunity for fugitives. This function will fall to the management mechanism for the essential residual functions to be established after the Tribunals are closed.

The Council’s Informal Working Group on international tribunals has continued to work on this issue under the efficient stewardship of Austria. The past six months have made it possible for the Group to deepen its consideration of the subject with the participation of new Council members and the very useful contribution of the Secretariat’s Office of Legal Affairs. I would also like to thank the Presidents, Prosecutors and Registrars of the two Tribunals for continuing their excellent cooperation of the Working Group.

The Permanent Representative of Austria made a specific point a moment ago on the state of play in the Working Group. I shall not dwell on that point. My delegation would simply like to stress that my country takes part in its work in the hope that the Council will in due course adopt a decision conducive to fully safeguarding the integrity of the Tribunals’ legacy. It would be inadmissible for the United Nations to neglect its duty to ensure that the residual functions necessary to the administration of justice will be guaranteed after the end of the Tribunals under its auspices and in the context of an effective mechanism.

Various possibilities can be contemplated for devising this mechanism, which will need to be appropriately modest and lean. But it is essential that it allow the judicial work of the two Tribunals to go on uninterrupted and in respect for the highest demands of fairness and justice.

The ICTY and the ICTR have embodied the international community’s rejection of impunity for the most serious crimes against the human conscience. They must conclude their task soon, and it is up to the Council to adopt decisions conducive to fully ensuring their legacy.

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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