Statement by UK Legal Counsellor to the UN Security Council meeting on ICTY & ICTR Progress Reports
Thank you Mr President.
I would like to begin by once again expressing the United Kingdom’s continued support for the ICTY, the ICTR and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. Their work remains vital to ensuring accountability and promoting international justice across the globe. I would like to thank the Tribunals Presidents and Prosecutors for their reports and today’s presentations and to commend the progress they have made to date. I would also like to thank Chile for their chairmanship of the Informal Working Group.
I will begin with the ICTY. We are pleased to see that the trial of Radovan Karadzic remains on track and we hope that the Goran Hadzic trial and the Ratko Mladic trial timetables can also be maintained. We noted the position in the Vojislav Šešelj case. While we understand the complexities, we encourage the ICTY to take all necessary steps to ensure that his trial can recommence as soon as possible. The timely completion of all ICTY trials remains a top priority.
The ICTY Prosecutor is, once again, concerned about the slow progress of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovia. We share these concerns. More needs to be done to address the most complex cases as envisaged by the War Crimes Strategy of 2008, and for joint cases which have been broken up by the State Prosecutor’s Office and thus moved between state and municipality Prosecutors Offices. This issue is becoming increasingly urgent and it is vital that these cases are completed in a timely manner.
It is good to see that the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office has been provided with additional resources to help address the slow progress of these cases. This activity should be prioritised in accordance with the EU funded IPA project. In order to ensure the timely disbursement of the second tranche of this project’s budget, we urge the relevant authorities in Bosnia & Herzegovina to take the necessary steps to adopt the new Justice Sector Reform Strategy.
We also share the Prosecutor’s concern about the threats posed by barriers being raised which may hinder regional reconciliation. We urge all parties to ensure that these barriers do not materialise and that the rights and feelings of victims continue to be respected. We are particularly concerned about genocide denial, which is unacceptable.
However, on a positive note the UK welcomes the continued co-operation of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia with the ICTY. This is vital in order for the ICTY to operate effectively, complete its mandate and deliver justice for the countless victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. We thank those States for their continued support and we trust that this will continue as the Tribunal moves ever closer to the completion of its mandate.
Turning to the ICTR, 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, a global tragedy that has had an immeasurable influence on the international community’s approach to conflict prevention, peacekeeping and international justice. Between April and July 1994, in 100 short days, one million people were killed, many in the most horrific manner. Rwanda’s transformation since those dark days has been extraordinary.
I would like to echo the comments of the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Anelay and commend the work of the ICTR on the Tribunal’s recent 20th anniversary. The ICTR’s work over the past twenty years has been instrumental in developing international law and ensuring that those most responsible for the Rwandan genocide are held accountable.
And we are pleased that the Tribunal has now completed its substantive trial cases. However, it is disappointing that there has been no progress in apprehending the nine fugitives. The work of ensuring accountability cannot be completed until these individuals have been brought to justice. We encourage all states to provide their full support to Rwanda and the Mechanism to achieve their arrest and surrender.
We also regret that the problem of relocating individuals in Arusha who have been acquitted or have completed their sentences remains unresolved. Such individuals must be able to resume their lives. We thank the ICTR and the Mechanism for their continued efforts to try to resolve this problem and we commend Belgium for accepting one of these individuals. But more work needs to be done to find a long term solution to this issue. In the meantime, we encourage all States to cooperate together to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.
We wish to assure the Tribunals of our support regarding the extension of the Judges and Prosecutor’s mandates. This is essential for the work of the Tribunals if they are to complete their mandates.
To conclude on a positive note, we commend both Tribunals for the ongoing, smooth transition of activities to the Mechanism. This is a priority for the UK and we hope that it continues. We encourage both Tribunals and the Mechanism to continue to co-operate closely on this important objective and we commend the outreach, capacity building and training activities of the Tribunals and Mechanism which are essential for continuing the fight against impunity and ensuring that the Tribunal’s excellent legacy is used for good effect.