17 November 1998


Press Release
SC/6597



SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS FAILURE OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA TO EXECUTE ARREST WARRANTS ISSUED BY FORMER YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL

19981117
Resolution 1207 (1998) Adopted by 14-0-1

Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council this afternoon condemned the failure of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to execute the arrest warrants issued by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia against three men.

The Tribunal indicted the accused individuals on 7 November 1995 for the murder of 260 unarmed men following the fall of the city of Vukovar in November 1991.

In adopting resolution 1207 (1998), by a vote of 14 in favour to none opposed with one abstention (China), the Council demanded the immediate and unconditional execution of the arrest warrants, including the transfer to the Tribunal's custody of those individuals.

By other terms of the text, the Council called again on the Federal Republic, and all other States which had not already done so, to take measures under their domestic law to implement the provisions of resolution 827 (1993), by which the Tribunal was established, and the Tribunal's statute. It affirmed that a State may not invoke provisions of its domestic law as justification for its failure to perform binding obligations under international law.

Further, the Council reiterated its call on the authorities of the Federal Republic, the leaders of the Kosovo Albanian community and all others concerned to cooperate fully with the Prosecutor in the investigation of all possible violations within the Tribunal's jurisdiction.

The representative of China made a statement.

The meeting, which was called to order at noon, was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.


Council Work Programme

When the Council met this morning, it had before it three letters from the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

In her letter dated 8 September (document S/1998/839), the President of the Tribunal reports on the continuing refusal of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) to cooperate with the Tribunal by failing to arrest and transfer to its custody three indicted persons: Mile Mrkšic, Miroslav Radic and Veselin Šljivancanin.

The men were indicted on 7 November 1995 for the murder of 260 unarmed men following the fall of Vukovar in November 1991. A warrant for their arrest was transmitted to the Government, as the accused were believed to be residing in its territory. On 3 April 1996, Trial Chamber I concluded that there were sufficient grounds for believing that the three men had committed the offences with which they are charged and certified that the failure to effect service of the indictment was due to the Federal Republic's failure to cooperate with the Tribunal. The Trial Chamber further issued international arrest warrants against the three accused which were transmitted to all States and to the Implementation Force established under the Dayton Agreement.

According to the letter, on 8 May 1996, the President of the Council reminded the Federal Republic of its obligations, deplored the failure to execute the arrest warrants and called for the immediate execution of the warrants. Since then, the three individuals have remained at liberty, allegedly residing in Serbia, and the Federal Republic authorities have not refuted such allegations. The persistent and continuing rejection of arrest orders is the most blatant example of the Federal Republic's refusal to cooperate with the Tribunal. Such intransigence has been a consistent pattern since the Tribunal's establishment in 1993. The Federal Republic is the only signatory to the Dayton Agreement that has neither adopted legislation to facilitate cooperation, nor taken steps to transfer to the Tribunal's custody indictees in its territory.

Such conduct is illegal, the letter states. The Federal Republic has become a haven for fugitives from international law. Recent Council measures have demonstrated that body's commitment to upholding international criminal law. The adoption in July of a treaty establishing a permanent International Criminal Court further indicates the international community's commitment to the principle of accountability for those who violate the law of nations.

The three individuals charged with serious violations of international humanitarian law have not been arrested almost three years after the issuance of arrest warrants. They have enjoyed impunity and immunity. The lesson is not that individuals will be held accountable, but that, through their


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Government's illegal actions, they may be shielded from the international legal process to which all States are bound. It is imperative that the Government's reprehensible conduct in violating the Charter, Council resolutions and the Dayton Agreement should no longer be tolerated.

The President's letter of 22 October (document S/1998/990) notes that recent efforts to find a peaceful solution to events in Kosovo led to agreements between the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The President of Serbia has also issued a statement on the principles of a political solution and on a timetable framework. While the agreements commit the Federal Republic to accept an international verification system in Kosovo, they contain no provisions regarding its obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal. Moreover, the statement by the President of Serbia reserves to the domestic judicial system of the Federal Republic the right to investigate, prosecute and try offences committed in Kosovo that may fall within the Tribunal's jurisdiction.

This is of particular concern to the Tribunal, considering that its relationship with the Federal Republic has been characterized by near-total non-compliance, the letter states. It is imperative that the Tribunal's competence be unambiguously reaffirmed, and that the Federal Republic's obligation to cooperate is an explicit part of any resolution of the situation in Kosovo.

With respect to events in Kosovo, the Council has confirmed on two occasions -- in resolution 1160 (1998) and resolution 1199 (1998) -- that the Federal Republic is bound under international law to comply with the Tribunal, the letter states. The President of the Tribunal says she is gravely concerned that the agreements concluded on Kosovo lack an explicit recognition of the Federal Republic's obligation towards the Tribunal. She notes with alarm that the President of Serbia had declared that "no person will be prosecuted in State courts for crimes related to the conflict in Kosovo except for crimes against humanity and international law".

While she hopes the Federal Republic will end its pattern of non- cooperation, the President says she fears that in the absence of a specific commitment to obey the Council's will, the Tribunal will continue to experience further difficulties. Considering resolution 1199 (1998), it is clear that the Federal Republic may not impede the Prosecutor's investigations within Kosovo. It is also clear that the Federal Republic must take action to facilitate the Tribunal's work, including the arrest of indicted persons.

In her letter dated 6 November (document (S/1998/1040), the President of the Tribunal reports on the continuing refusal of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate with the International Tribunal and its failure to


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issue visas to investigators of the Office of the Prosecutor so that they may conduct investigations in Kosovo. She says the Federal Republic states that it does not accept any International Tribunal investigation in Kosovo and Metohija.

Clearly, that position contravenes the Council's explicit decisions, the letter states. In resolution 1160 (1998), the Council urged the Prosecutor to begin gathering information on the violence in Kosovo. On 23 September, in resolution 1199 (1998), the authorities of the Federal Republic were obligated to "cooperate fully with the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the investigation of possible violations within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal". Finally, on 24 October, the Council adopted resolution 1203 (1998), calling for a prompt and complete investigation of all atrocities committed in Kosovo. Further, full cooperation with the Tribunal was required, "including compliance with its orders, requests for information and investigations".

On 15 October, the Prosecutor advised President Slobodan Milosevic of her intention to lead an investigative mission to Kosovo and sought assurance that visas would be issued to the investigators. The failure of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to provide the appropriate travel documents prevents the Prosecutor from carrying out the Council's mandate. The Prosecutor subsequently requested that the President notify the Council of the Federal Republic's failure to fulfil its obligations under article 29 of the Tribunal's statute. The letter is the fourth time the President of the Tribunal has notified the Council of non-compliance by the Federal Republic.

The Council has issued presidential statements in response to prior Tribunal reports of non-compliance by the Federal Republic, but that has failed to bring about the required cooperation, the President of the Tribunal says. The Tribunal was created to investigate and prosecute persons responsible for some of the most horrific human rights violations since the United Nations was established. It relies on the Council to bring non- cooperating States into compliance. She asks for Council measures which are sufficiently compelling to bring the Federal Republic into the fold of law- abiding nations and urges it to provide the support necessary to enable the Tribunal to discharge its mandate.

Draft Resolution

The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/1998/1082), sponsored by France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.


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"The Security Council,

"Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions concerning the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in particular resolution 827 (1993) of 25 May 1993,

"Recalling also the statement by its President of 8 May 1997 (S/PRST/1996/23),

"Recalling further the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Annexes thereto (S/1995/999, annex), in particular its Article IX and its Annex 1-A, Article X,

"Having considered the letters of the President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to the President of the Security Council of 8 September 1998 (S/1998/839), 22 October 1998 (S/1998/990) and 6 November 1998 (S/1998/1040),

"Deploring the continued failure of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate fully with the Tribunal, as described in those letters,

"Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,

"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

"1. Reiterates its decision that all States shall cooperate fully with the Tribunal and its organs in accordance with resolution 827 (1993) and the Statute of the Tribunal, including the obligation of States to comply with requests for assistance or orders issued by a Trial Chamber under Article 29 of the Statute, to execute arrest warrants transmitted to them by the Tribunal, and to comply with its requests for information and investigations;

"2. Calls again upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and all other States which have not already done so, to take any measures necessary under their domestic law to implement the provisions of resolution 827 (1993) and the Statue of the Tribunal, and affirms that a State may not invoke provisions of its domestic law as justification for its failure to perform binding obligations under international law;

"3. Condemns the failure to date of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to execute the arrest warrants issued by the Tribunal against the three individuals referred to in the letter of 8 September 1998, and demands the immediate and unconditional execution of those arrest warrants, including the transfer to the custody of the Tribunal of those individuals;


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"4. Reiterates its call upon the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the leaders of the Kosovo Albanian community and all others concerned to cooperate fully with the Prosecutor in the investigation of all possible violations within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal;

"5. Requests the President of the Tribunal to keep the Council informed about the implementation of this resolution for the Council's further consideration;

"6. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Statement

GUOFANG SHEN (China) said his Government supported the Tribunal's work, but its position regarding the principles underlying the adoption of resolution 827 (1993) remained unchanged. The Tribunal had been established as a special case in 1993 and had a specific task. It was not a permanent court of law and was still less an organ to intervene in the internal affairs of any country in the Balkan region that fell within its jurisdiction. China condemned the terrorist crimes in violation of international humanitarian law in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, while stressing that there could be no double standards. The Federal Republic had initiated its own investigations and China supported its efforts. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic must be observed.

He said questions that cropped up concerning the work of the Tribunal should be settled by consultations among all concerned. The Tribunal could not become a political tool to put pressure on any side. China could not accept some of the elements of the draft resolution that supported Chapter VII actions and had submitted some amendments. It regretted that some of its important amendments had not been taken on board and would therefore abstain in the vote on the text.

The Council then adopted the resolution by a vote of 14 in favour with none opposed and one abstention (China).

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