Thank you, Mr. President.
I would like to welcome the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Justice Renate Winter, and the Prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, to the Council today and thank them for their briefings. My government would like to congratulate them on the significant achievements of the Court to date. I would also like to welcome the Representative of Sierra Leone to the Council today.
The briefings today come at a critical juncture as the Court completes the final phase of its mandate. The successful completion of the Court’s work and the establishment of a viable Residual Mechanism remain top priorities for the United States.
Mr. President, the United States was instrumental in the establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and has been its largest financial supporter. Since the Court’s inception in 2002, the United States has contributed more than $60 million to it. We welcome the broad financial support that the Court has enjoyed in the past. And we encourage all Member States to support the Court to help ensure that justice is served, impunity is not tolerated, and Sierra Leone and the region can sustain accountability, peace, and security in the years to come. The Court must be supported to conclude its mandate.
The Government of Sierra Leone has been a strong and committed partner in the work of the Court. The Court has been instrumental in contributing to peace and stability in Sierra Leone through the creation of a transparent and independent judicial process. When the Court closes, it will effectively end a chapter in Sierra Leonean history.
The United States fully supports the court’s efforts to transfer its institutional knowledge to Sierra Leone authorities. We believe it important to the country’s on-going democratic development that all lessons of the past be fully absorbed, and the Special Court has much to offer in this regard. After the Court’s mandate is completed, the international community will of course continue its efforts to support peacebuilding and long-term social and economic development in Sierra Leone.
Mr. President, the United States has appreciated the opportunity to serve on the Special Court’s Management Committee. We commend the work of the Canadian chair; we also commend the work of the Court’s staff in evaluating options for a Residual Mechanism and we applaud their efforts to reduce costs and improve efficiency in the Court’s operations. The United States remains committed to an efficient, cost-effective, and successful Residual Mechanism.
We again thank the President, the Prosecutor, the Acting Registrar, and their staffs for their dedication and commitment. The Court has broken new ground in the field of international criminal law, including the recognition of the use of child soldiers as an international crime and sexual slavery as a war crime and crime against humanity. And it has built a powerful legacy by fighting against impunity and working to bring justice to the people of Sierra Leone.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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