Statement by Erin Pelton, United States Mission to the United Nations Spokesperson, on Today's Thematic Debate on the Role of International Criminal Justice in Reconciliation

Erin Pelton
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
April 10, 2013


The United States strongly disagrees with the decision of the President of the General Assembly to hold an unbalanced, inflammatory thematic debate today on the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation and will not participate.  We believe that ad hoc international criminal tribunals and other judicial institutions in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia have been critical to ending impunity and helping these countries chart a new, more positive future.  We regret in particular that the way today’s thematic debate and the related panel discussion are structured fail to provide the victims of these atrocities an appropriate voice.

Today’s session is a missed opportunity to strengthen the global system of accountability for those most responsible for atrocities, an important priority of the United States.  Holding accountable those responsible for such acts through impartial and independent trials reinforces the rule of law, deters future criminal activity, and reinforces human rights law and international humanitarian law norms.  Accountability is also an important component of a holistic transitional justice agenda, which supports long-term peace and reconciliation in countries emerging from armed conflict with legacies of large scale abuse.  While we have made progress in these areas, much work remains.  The United States will not rest until those responsible for perpetrating mass atrocities face justice and those who would commit such crimes know they will never enjoy impunity.


PRN: 2013/048