Thank you, Mr. President
The United States wishes to thank President Joensen of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, and President Meron of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for their reports. Presidents Joensen and Meron have provided exemplary leadership in the cause of international justice. We salute their long and distinguished careers as jurists and global public servants.
This year marks the 20th anniversaries of the creation of the ICTY, and, subsequently, the ICTR. As we all recall, these tribunals were set up in response to the horrors committed in Rwanda and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, when the slaughter of hundreds of thousands led to a wave of international revulsion and to cries for justice. The ICTR and ICTY were founded on the idea that those responsible for mass atrocities, no matter what rank or official position, must be brought to justice. Once the ICTY and ICTR were fully up and running, they began thoroughly addressing serious issues of international justice. Today the two courts have tried more than 200 defendants accused of heinous crimes, including top military and political leaders. The tribunals have operated on the principles of fairness, impartiality, and independence. They have also built up a robust body of international humanitarian law.
With the historic work of the tribunals now nearing completion, the United States heartily commends the efforts of both tribunal Presidents to enact cost-saving managerial and administrative measures, and to transfer the remaining functions of the tribunals to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, MICT. At the same time, we recognize that the exact closure dates will depend on the completion of ongoing and soon-to-begin trials and appeals.
Turning to the ICTY, we note that it continues to focus on the completion of all trials and appeals, rendering 13 trial, appellate and contempt judgments between August 2012 and July 2013. We are pleased that the Hague branch of the MICT began operating in July 2013. We also salute the continuing work of the ICTY to build capacity amongst judges, prosecutors and defense counsel in the former Yugoslavia. The United States urges all governments in the region to continue to work towards reconciliation, avoiding statements that inflame tensions, and to continue to bring war criminals to justice in local courts.
Regarding the ICTR, we note with satisfaction that the tribunal has wrapped up its workload of trials and continues completing appeals, hopefully by 2015. The MICT in Arusha opened in 2012 and is operating smoothly. The United States urges regional governments to work with the tribunal on the relocation of several persons who have served their sentences but are unable to return to Rwanda. We call upon all states to cooperate with the ICTR in apprehending all remaining fugitives and bringing these accused mass murderers to trial.
The United States remains committed to working with the United Nations and the international community to help protect populations from mass atrocities, through tribunals and all other institutions and initiatives at our disposal.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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