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National statements

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Impunity
  • Justice


Statement by Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Mr President,

I'd like to thank Presidents Meron and Joensen and Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow for their comprehensive briefings. We commend the Tribunals for the progress made in relation to their respective mandates over the past six months. As we mark the 20th anniversary of the ICTR, these reports serve to highlight the contribution that all three entities continue to make to international criminal justice. We agree with Judge Joensen that they have forever altered the landscape of interational criminal law, and their contribution is not limited to the ongoing development of international criminal law, but extends to the provision of assistance and support to victims and witnesses, and to capacity building and legacy preservation.

Australia also commends both Tribunals on their efforts to complete their work expeditiously, while ensuring that trials and appeals are conducted in a manner consistent with fair trial standards.

As the reports highlight, there is one remaining appeal before the ICTR and four trials and five appeals before the ICTY. It is in all of our interests that the work of these Tribunals not continue indefinitely. But it is equally important that provision be made for the successful completion of their case work. Australia's view is that the terms of office of the Tribunals' judges and prosecutors should therefore be extended until the completion of their cases.

Mr President

The successful completion of the Tribunals' work will, though, require much more than just the extension of judges' terms.

First, it is critical that all stakeholders work together to ensure the nine remaining ICTR fugitives are apprehended. Member States must cooperate with the Residual Mechanism, which is not only tracking the three fugitives over which it has jurisdiction, but is also providing assistance in tracking the other six individuals whose cases have been transferred to Rwanda. To this end, we welcome the launch of the International Fugitives Initiative in Kigali on 24 July this year by the ICTR Prosecutor, the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the US Department of State, INTERPOL and the Prosecutor-General of Rwanda.

Second, we must work together to find solutions to address the plight of the eight persons acquitted by the ICTR and three persons released by the Tribunal who need to be relocated from Arusha. While we welcome the recent resettlement in Belgium of one individual, as is now well known, the 11 individuals who remain in Tanzania are effectively stuck in a legal limbo without identity documents, proper immigration status, or the means to survive independent of the Tribunal. The work of the Tribunals does not end with the delivery of a final appeals judgment. The ongoing welfare of victims and witnesses, as well as accused and sentenced persons, is an integral part of the Tribunals' mandate. This Council, through its Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, must provide the support the ICTR and Residual Mechanism need to find a satisfactory solution to the relocation issue. We take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Barros and his team for Chile's leadership of the Informal Working Group.

Third, we note the concerns outlined in Prosecutor Brammertz's report that there has been insufficient progress in the cases transferred to national institutions in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We encourage authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure that cases transferred to its jurisdiction from the ICTY are progressed as soon as possible. The arrest on the 5th of December of 15 individuals said to have been involved in a 1993 massacre, following a joint investigation by Bosnian and Serb authorities, is a welcome development.

We note with concern the barriers to reconciliation outlined in Prosecutor Brammertz's report. Australia encourages officials in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to refrain from making statements questioning or rejecting the ICTY's judgments and calls on them to ensure that steps are taken to reject revisionism, including the denial of the genocide in Srebrenica. Indeed, all attempts at revisionism and genocide denial must be firmly rejected as inimical to reconciliation and accountability, and deeply disrespectful to the victims.

Finally, we continue to be concerned at the negative impact that the loss of experienced staff and difficulties in recruiting new staff is having on the Tribunals' ability to meet their completion target dates. We are ready to support any human resources initiatives that will assist the Tribunals in addressing these challenges.

Mr President

It is imperative that this Council extend its full support to the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism. We agree with Judge Meron that these Tribunals have inaugurated a new era of accountability. This Council, of course, was instrumental in ushering in that era, and it has a fundamental responsibility to continue to support it. If this Council is truly committed to ensuring that the victims and survivors of the tragedies in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda get the justice they deserve, and if this Council truly means what it says when it speaks of the importance of the fight against impunity for the most serious international crimes, it will continue to provide all necessary support to the Tribunals, and to the Residual Mechanism, to enable them to complete their work, and conclude this particular chapter in international criminal justice which will leave a lasting and vital legacy.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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