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National statements

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Impunity
  • International Criminal Tribunals
  • Justice
  • Syria


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

Mr President,

I'd like to thank President Meron and President Joenson, and Prosecutor Brammertz and Prosecutor Jallow for their useful and informative briefings. And I acknowledge their commitment to the cause of international criminal justice; their effective leadership of the tribunals we are discussing today makes a critical contribution to that cause. This session provides us with a timely opportunity to reaffirm the international community's support for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, and to acknowledge their vital contribution to international criminal accountability.

Established in response to some of the worst atrocities the international community had witnessed since World War II, both the ICTY and ICTR were products of a firm conviction on behalf of this Council and also the broader international community that perpetrators of serious international crimes must be held to account for their actions, regardless of rank or position. Over the past 20 years, the ICTY and ICTR have played an historic role in the fight against impunity as was recognised by the Council in Resolution 2150, adopted by consensus in April.

Mr President,

The ICTY and ICTR's ground-breaking jurisprudence has been particularly significant, including their contribution to the understanding of sexual violence under international criminal law. Both the ICTY and ICTR recognised that sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and a constitutive act of genocide. This has had a lasting impact on understandings of – and responses to – sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.

We also commend the efforts of both Tribunals to share lessons learned and best practices in the investigation and prosecution of serious international crimes with national authorities and the broader international community, including the International Criminal Court.

Mr President,

We welcome the progress reported this morning towards completion of the Tribunals' mandates, including President Joensen's advice that the huge task of transferring the ICTR's archives to the Mechanism is on track to be completed by the end of this year, and that only one appeal (in the Butare case) is likely to extend into 2015. Similarly, we welcome President Meron's advice on the delivery of two ICTY Appeals Chamber judgments earlier this year, and we note his advice of expected delays in some other appeals. We appreciate the ongoing crucial support to the Tribunals by the governments of the Netherlands and Tanzania, and note that the agreement between the UN and Tanzania for the Arusha branch of the Mechanism's headquarters has just entered into force.

We share the ICTR's concern about the lack of progress with relocating the nine acquitted and three convicted and released persons still residing in safe houses in Arusha, and appreciate the concerted efforts of the President and Registrar to reach out to states to assist. We urge all Member States to cooperate with the ICTR on this matter and we support further consideration of how the Council can best support the ICTR's efforts. Like others, we highlight the Council's renewed call in Resolution 2150 for Member States to intensify cooperation with the Mechanism and Rwandan authorities to apprehend the remaining nine ICTR fugitives.

Mr President,

Notwithstanding the progress reported today, it is clear the Tribunals will need to continue working beyond 2014, with some very important cases still before the ICTY. The continued support and cooperation of the international community – including by ensuring the Tribunals are adequately resourced – is essential to ensuring that the Tribunals can achieve the goals this Council set for them, and to secure their lasting legacy.

Mr President,

The Tribunals we are discussing here today, established by the Council, have been instrumental in the recovery process following the devastating events of the 1990s in both the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. They demonstrate that the Council's role in ending impunity – including through its power to refer situations to the International Criminal Court – is crucial.

The current commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide must remain front of mind as we consider and respond to the crises we face today. The devastating impact of the genocide should serve as a continuous reminder to us of the consequences if this Council fails to act to prevent mass atrocities. As we have heard this morning, ensuring accountability is a key element in restoring peace and stability. It is clear, therefore, that justice and accountability must play a central role in this Council's work.

Tragically, this Council's recent failure to exercise its responsibility in relation to Syria shows that we are not applying the clear lessons of history, either consistently or justly. When presented with evidence that mass atrocities are being committed, the international community must unite in its message to those responsible – that they will be held to account. More importantly, this Council has the authority to ensure that this is the case, and it should live up to its responsibility to use that authority.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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