Remarks on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
United States Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
June 7, 2012


Thank you, Mr. President. Tribunal Presidents Meron and Joensen, Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow, thank you very much for your briefings today and your continued service. Congratulations, President Joensen, on your recent election as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. We wish you success in your new role.

The United States commends the tribunal Presidents, Prosecutors and Registrars for their dedication and extensive preparation in setting up the Residual Mechanism (RM). We welcome the overall downsizing by both the ICTR and ICTY as trials end and remaining functions are gradually transferred to the Residual Mechanism.

We also appreciate efforts by the ICTY, ICTR and RM to share resources and enact cost-saving managerial and administrative measures. These include double-hatting staff members, sharing common administrative support services, embedding translators into legal support teams, and using video-teleconference technology. We are aware of the challenges posed by high staff attrition, and are grateful to the judges and staff members who are performing multiple functions across multiple trials.

This Council must be flexible to ensure that both tribunals are able to administer justice expeditiously yet fairly. When the Council adopted Resolution1966 in 2010 and set December 31, 2014 as the requested date for completion of all remaining work by the tribunals, we did not have the benefit of knowing when indicted individuals would be arrested. Today, we are pleased that all ICTY fugitives have been apprehended, including the re-apprehension in January 2012 of convicted war criminal Radovan Stankovic. We recognize, however, that trial and appeal schedules will be difficult to accurately predict, and that flexibility in assigning cases is important in this regard.

Turning to the ICTY, we welcome the reported cooperation of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in providing access to documents, archives and witnesses in response to requests for assistance from the Office of the Prosecutor. We look forward to Serbia concluding and acting upon investigations into who was involved in and responsible for sheltering Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, and other notorious ICTY fugitives in Serbia over the course of so many years. Such cooperation is essential to completing ongoing trials and appeals. As the nations of the Balkans make further progress towards EU accession and Euro-Atlantic integration, their record of cooperation with the ICTY and each other, as well as their progress on domestic justice and accountability initiatives, will be critical.

At the same time, the United States deplores the statement made this week denying genocide in Srebrenica. Genocide in Srebrenica is not a subjective determination – it is a defined criminal act which the ICTY has confirmed in final and binding verdicts in multiple cases. It cannot be denied.

Turning to the ICTR, there are, unfortunately, still nine ICTR fugitives at large. We call on all UN member states, particularly those in the Great Lakes region, to help apprehend them. The apprehension of the remaining ICTY fugitives demonstrates the international community's commitment to ending impunity for those who commit mass atrocities. Those who harbor fugitives obstruct the administration of justice, put themselves in danger, and only delay the inevitable.

We take note of the recent transfers of cases from the ICTR to Rwanda, and welcome Rwanda's willingness to fairly adjudicate transferred cases. This is a positive development, as international tribunals such as the ICTR cannot last forever, and strengthening national legal and justice sectors will help promote long-term rule of law and stability in the region. We applaud the ICTR's efforts to create a robust monitoring mechanism in cooperation with regional organizations to ensure the fairness of trials at the national level. Case transfers to competent national jurisdictions will help fulfill the ICTR's completion strategy. We welcome the news that the ICTR is close to completing all trial work as projected in the November 2011 completion strategy. Indeed, the ICTR's vastly reduced judicial workload reflects the court's strong leadership and the dedication of its staff.

As the ICTY and ICTR draw to an end and prepare to transition remaining functions to the Residual Mechanism, they represent a strong legacy in the international fight against impunity for those who commit atrocities. The defendants convicted in tribunal proceedings to date have been tried and found guilty of some the most heinous crimes known to mankind, including genocide, murder, and rape as crimes against humanity. Thanks to the hard work of the tribunals, the world knows about these crimes, and perpetrators are being held accountable for their actions. In addition, there are now archives and public records which will be accessible to generations to come, bringing to light stories that would otherwise be lost or hidden in the shadows. This information is critical to combating the concerted efforts of those who seek to promote an alternative historical narrative at variance with judicially established fact. In addition to combating impunity, the tribunals' contributions in the areas of local capacity-building and education will help foster long-term peace and reconciliation.

Mr. President, as President Obama has said, “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America,” and we are committed to working with the international community to do so. We can and we must improve our individual and collective efforts to protect populations from atrocities, including with measures to enhance early-warning, prevention, response and accountability. We will continue to focus on concrete outcomes to make a difference on the ground and to help UN actors use planning and diplomacy to prevent atrocities, not just to respond to them.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2012/142