9 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/10511

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Plenary

26th & 27th Meetings (AM & PM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY HEARS APPEALS BY TRIBUNAL JUDGES TO ‘KEEP DOORS OPEN’


UNTIL ALL WAR CRIMINALS IN RWANDA, BALKANS ARE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE


International Criminal Court Faces Challenges ‘Unlike Anything

Experienced by Other Tribunals’, Its President Says as Court Moves to Trials


Emphasizing that their work was essential to the cause of international justice and the fight against impunity, top officials from the United Nations courts trying cases stemming from the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Balkan wars of the 1990s today called on Member States to help them see their work through to the end, chiefly by apprehending high-profile fugitives, ensuring a steady pool of ad hoc judges and finding new homes for individuals acquitted of war crimes.


The Assembly’s joint review of the annual reports of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia this year featured a presentation from Judge Philippe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court, who reported solid progress in the investigations into atrocities committed in northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.


Both International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda President Erik Mose and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia President Fausto Pocar said their main stumbling block was getting national authorities to arrest suspects: The Hague-based Yugoslav Tribunal was still hunting six fugitives, and the Rwanda Court, located in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, was seeking a further 18. According to their Security Council-mandated completion strategies, both courts were due to close by 2010.


Only one suspect had been delivered to the International Criminal Court so far, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, alleged founder and leader of the group known as Union des Patriotes Congolais, charged with recruiting child soldiers for active participation in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s war-ravaged east.  According to Judge Kirsch, the five arrest warrants the ICC issued for leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, remained outstanding. One of the five persons was reportedly now dead, although that had yet to be confirmed.


Regretting that Serbian authorities had made no progress in locating or arresting Ratko Mladic -– despite a number of “promises made” and deadlines missed -- and a similar lack of progress on Republika Srpska’s part to deliver Radovan Karadzic, Judge Pocar declared: “The Tribunal must not close its doors before these accused are brought to justice…otherwise [its] message and legacy that the international community will not tolerate serious violations of international humanitarian law will be thwarted.”  He added that the successful completion of the Tribunal’s work hinged on the cooperation of all States “now”.


And while Judge Mose said that the Rwanda Tribunal was working at “full speed” and was expected to complete cases involving between 65 and 70 accused by the end of 2008, it was essential for Member States to cooperate in the arrest and transfer of all fugitives, particularly one well-known indictee, Felicien Kabuga. Stressing the need to avoid impunity, he also encouraged Member States to be receptive to discussions concerning possible transfer of some trials to their respective jurisdiction, and called on the United Nations to help boost local judicial capacities to further facilitate the national processing of war crimes.


He also noted that only one of the five persons acquitted by the Rwanda Tribunal had found a country of residence, while the other four remained in protective custody in Arusha.  That situation was particularly serious for two of the persons who had been acquitted more than two and a half years ago.  The Tribunal had been unable to find a country for them.  He, therefore, appealed to Member States to receive them in their territories.


Briefing the Assembly on the work of the International Criminal Court -- the world's only permanent court to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and other abuses -- Judge Kirsch stressed the difficulties the Court was having in conducting investigations in ongoing conflict situations like Darfur, where local conditions had made it all but impossible to continue its probe. The Court’s field office in Chad, which worked on the Darfur investigations, had been closed temporarily earlier this year because of rising violence.  The office had since reopened, but operating in the midst of ongoing conflicts required additional precautions, such as arranging standing medical evacuation capacity.


Among the nearly 35 delegations to take the floor, Serbia’s representative said his Government believed that the hiding of Mladic was “an act of dishonesty that directly threatens the national State interests of Serbia”.  It had done everything in its power, therefore, to locate that fugitive and transfer him to The Hague.  The people who had helped Mladic evade justice were now under investigation or awaiting trial.  Altogether, 11 suspects had been brought before the national courts and sentenced as accomplices.  Still, it had not been possible to locate Mladic, and the Government, aware of the political and moral damage his fugitive status was causing for Serbia, remained determined to close that case.


Rwanda’s representative reiterated serious concerns that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s staff included individuals who were themselves accused of committing serious crimes during the 1994 genocide.  At the end of September, his Government had brought to the Security Council’s attention the fact that 14 individuals, who were well known to be “genocide suspects”, were employed by the Tribunal.  Ten of those suspects had resigned since then, and the Tribunal must now expeditiously resolve that very serious issue, including by making public the report of the independent investigation, and following that up with arrests and prosecutions.


Looking outside the region, he said the Tribunal’s completion strategy should not be seen as an exit strategy for the obligations of the international community to bring all suspects of the crime of genocide to trial.  In fact, appropriate measures should be put in place to ensure that all accused were brought to justice even after the Tribunal’s mandate expired.  The international community must support the preparation of transferring trials to Rwanda and must financially support the trials once they began.


Though he joined others in supporting the Tribunals’ efforts to complete their work in good time, India’s representative was troubled by a “great number of political and legal challenges” to their legitimacy.  A number of scholars had come to the conclusion that the drafters of the United Nations Charter did not have the intention to endow the Security Council with the competence to establish judicial bodies. They held that the Charter had not assigned the Council any judicial functions and, therefore, it could not set up subsidiary bodies, such as the Tribunals, entrusted with powers that the Council itself did not possess.  “In other words, you cannot give what you don’t have,” he said.


At the opening of the meeting, Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain announced that she had received a letter from the President of the Security Council informing her that the Council today formally chose Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon of the Republic of Korea as its nominee to be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations for a five-year term when incumbent


Kofi Annan steps down on 31 December.


Also speaking on the Tribunals were the representatives of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, and Canada on behalf of itself, Australia and New Zealand.  Other speakers were Norway, Croatia, Nepal, Japan, Russian Federation and Kenya.


Speakers on the International Criminal Court were the delegates of Finland, on behalf of the European Union; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, on behalf of the Caribbean Community; South Africa, on behalf of the 28 African countries parties to the Rome Statute, and New Zealand on behalf of itself, Canada and Australia.


Additional speakers on the International Criminal Court were the delegates of Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Egypt, Ukraine, Norway, Brazil, Kenya, Jordan, Peru, Croatia, Serbia, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 12 October, to convene a joint debate on the decade to roll back malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, and on development in Africa.


Background


The General Assembly met today to hold a joint debate on the reports of the two Tribunals, one relating to Rwanda and the other to the former Yugoslavia, as well as to consider the report of the International Criminal Court.


Before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General, transmitting the eleventh annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/61/265-S/2006/658), which covers the Tribunal’s activities from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006.  In that time, the Trial Chambers delivered three judgements in cases involving three accused, and completed three trials, but other judgements were still pending.  A total of 22 judgements, involving 28 persons, had been rendered so far, and trials involving 27 accused were in progress, which brings the total number of persons brought before the Tribunal to 55 since its creation in January 1997.  Additionally, the Appeals Chamber delivered one appeal judgement, and signed two judgements, to be delivered after the current reporting period.


A revised Tribunal completion strategy was submitted to the Security Council on 29 May, the report says.  The strategy outlined plans for streamlining the judicial process.  Depending on the assistance and cooperation of States, the Tribunal confirmed its aim to complete trials involving 65 to 70 persons by 2008.  The completion plans depend on the arrest, by States, of indictees who remain at large.  Rwanda continued to cooperate with the Tribunal, facilitating access to witnesses and documents relevant to the Court’s proceedings.  It is important that both sides -— the prosecution and the defence -— receive the needed assistance.


The Tribunal’s outreach programmes have continued, through internships and legal research programmes for promising young lawyers, the report states.  The Tribunal had also engaged in the training of Rwandan jurists, advocates and human rights practitioners.  Also, the transition of audio-visual recordings to digital format had been accelerated in the past year, and more of the Tribunal’s business had been made available in electronic form to judges and involved parties.


A total of 96 counsels were assigned to represent indigent accused persons and suspects during the past year, the report continues.  The Tribunal’s investigative arm, probing financial assets belonging to accused persons, had also been improved.  A total of 59 persons were currently under detention at the Detention Facility at Arusha, including 40 detainees and 19 convicted persons.  Also a total of 393 witnesses from 33 countries had been brought in for the proceedings.  A number of witnesses residing in Rwanda are receiving medical and psychological treatment.


The Tribunal concluded its report by urging States to continue to facilitate the travel of witnesses, especially those who do not have the required travel documents.  Also, it requested States to assist the Tribunal in its decisions and help resettle individuals who are acquitted and require asylum in a third country.


Also before the Assembly, transmitted by a note of the Secretary-General, was the thirteenth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/61/271-S/2006/666), which covers the Tribunal’s activities from 1 August 2005 to 31 July 2006.  Under the leadership of newly elected President Fausto Pocar, who took over from Judge Theodor Meron, the Trial Chambers continued to work on streamlining its operations, making better use of its resources.  Reforms to shorten appeal filing periods were approved, as well as rules asking judges and pre-trial judges to apply better trial management.  Requests to the prosecution to reduce lengthy cases were ignored, but a decision to send cases against low-level to mid-level defendants to national jurisdictions, were successful, and nine accused had been transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.  A successful pilot run of the e-Court system was applied to all trials at the Tribunal.


The Tribunal also increased its training programmes, as part of its efforts to enhance the judicial capacity of national courts, and to increase its profile in the region, the report states.  Diplomatic relations were extensive under former President Meron, who had met with the Prime Minister of Serbia to improve Serbia’s cooperation with the Tribunal.  Those contacts have continued under President Pocar, who took part in the Brussels donor conference to improve funding sources for judicial institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  President Pocar also held several diplomatic overtures and press events, following the death of Slobodan Milošević and the investigations that followed.


A note of the Secretary-General also transmitted the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/61/217), which covers the Court’s main developments and activities of relevance to the United Nations during the period between 1 August 2005 to 1 August 2006.


The report notes that the first arrest warrants were unsealed by the Court in October 2005, and the person arrested was taken into custody by the Court in March 2006.  Pre-trials and appeal proceedings were already held, and trials are expected to begin in late 2006 or early 2007.


Investigations continued in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Darfur, the Sudan.  The Court relied on cooperation from the States, the United Nations and other international organizations and civil society, as the Court does not have its own police force to carry out its decisions or orders.  The Court also needs assistance from others in gathering evidence, relocating witnesses, providing logistical support in the field, arresting and surrendering persons, and enforcing the sentences of the convicted.


The Court and the United Nations have continued to build on the Relationship Agreement in order to substantially develop the mutual cooperation between the two independent institutions, as well as become more engaged with other organizations, the report states.  Nonetheless, substantial challenges to obtaining sufficient support remain.  More than one year has passed since the Court issued its first warrants of arrest and five subjects of the warrants remain at large.  If trials were going to be held, States and international organizations must assist the Court by arresting and surrendering those persons and others for whom warrants are to be issued in the future.


Statements


Judge ERIK MOSE, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that, when he had presented the Tribunal’s tenth annual report last year, 25 of the accused had received judgements.  That number had this year increased to 31.  Of the six new judgements, three had been delivered during the period of review, and another three had been rendered this past September.  To date, judgements had either been rendered, or trials were ongoing, in respect of 56 alleged leaders of the 1994 genocide.  He then briefed the Assembly on the details of the six Trial Chamber judgements, highlighting, among other developments, that this past April, Paul Bisengimana had pled guilty to crimes against humanity and had been sentenced to 15 years in prison.


He also told the Assembly that Joseph Serugendo, who had also pleaded guilty to charges of “direct and public incitement to commit genocide and persecution,” had been sentenced to six years in prison.  His terminal illness had been taken into account as a mitigating factor in his sentencing, and he died in a hospital in August.  Judge Mose said that those two cases brought the total number of accused who had pleaded guilty before the Tribunal to six.  That number might increase further.  The number of acquittals now stood at five.  Turning to the work of the Appeals Chamber, he said that one appeal had been delivered, as well as a number of significant interlocutory appeals, during the reporting period and immediately thereafter.


Of the nine trials currently in progress -- involving some 25 accused -- he said that the five multi-accused trails continued to represent the Tribunal’s main challenge, chiefly because of their volume, complexity and the time needed to complete them.  Three of those cases were at an advanced stage, including one case involving four alleged military leaders in the Rwandan Armed Forces in 1994, the trial of which was set to conclude by the end of the year.  Developments in single-accused cases had also been encouraging, representing significant steps in the implementation of the Tribunal’s completion strategy.  Two new single-accused trials had commenced since the Tribunal’s last annual report, and a third was set to get under way next month.  Twelve detainees were waiting for their cases to begin, including the November case and another set for January 2007, with the rest set to commence once trial capacity allowed.


Wrapping up his brief on the Tribunal’s work, he told the Assembly that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was on schedule to complete cases involving between 65 and 70 accused by the end of 2008, as envisaged by its Security Council-mandated completion strategy.  In order to achieve that aim, though, continuity was of the utmost importance.  Earlier in the year, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had requested -- and the Assembly had subsequently endorsed -- the extension of the terms of office of its permanent Judges, instead of proceeding with elections.  The Tribunal had also recently requested the extension of ad litem Judges, with the aim of ensuring continuity in cases under way.


Another important element of the completion strategy was the Prosecutor’s intention to transfer some indictees to national jurisdictions for trials, he explained.  Eighteen indictees remained at large, so the Tribunal would not be able to prosecute all those cases by December 2008, should they be found.  While the Prosecutor was currently focusing on some of those cases, it was essential that Member States assisted and cooperated in the arrest and transfer of those accused who remained at large.  In terms of the strategy, it was important that one particularly well known indictee, Felicien Kabuga, be arrested and transferred to Arusha as soon as possible, in order to determine his guilt or innocence.


Stressing the need to avoid impunity, he encouraged Member States to be receptive to discussions concerning possible transfer of some trials to their respective jurisdiction.  Also regarding State cooperation, he noted that only one of the five persons acquitted by the Tribunal had found a country of residence, while the other four remained in protective custody in Arusha.  That situation was particularly serious for two of the persons who had been acquitted more than two and a half years ago.  The Tribunal had been unable to find a country for them.  He, therefore, appealed to Member States to receive them in their territories.


Meanwhile, he said, Rwanda continued to cooperate with the Tribunal by facilitating witnesses with travel and by providing documents for use at trials, both for prosecution and defence.  He expected that cooperation to continue.  As of this week, four accused were being transferred from detention to the Tribunal’s four court rooms every day.  “The ICTR is working at full speed,” he concluded.


Judge FAUSTO POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, presenting his first report since taking office on 17 November 2005, thanked Member States for their continued support of the Tribunal, which had had a fundamental impact upon the development and enforcement of international criminal justice.


He said that concrete measures had been taken to increase efficiency in the disposal of trials and appeals.  Those measures had an impact on the Tribunal’s caseload without sacrificing due process.  Cases against 97 accused, of a total of 161 indicted, had been closed, while proceedings against 64 remained to be completed.  Of those accused with proceedings pending, 15 had already been tried and were at the appeals stage; 24 were on trial; 15 were in pre-trial; four had pending “Rule 11 bis” motions for referral and the remaining six were still at large.  By the end of this year, the Tribunal would issue two appeals judgements, resulting in eight proceedings being closed on appeal in the current calendar year.  For the first quarter of 2007, the Tribunal would finish trials against four accused, and close proceedings against four accused on appeal.  With the current expediency, all accused under custody of the Tribunal would have their trials completed no later than 2009.


Summarizing specific aspects of the Tribunal’s work, he said that the Trial Chambers had issued 447 decisions on pre-trial motions, heard two cases of contempt and rendered judgements in four cases.  The Appeals Chamber had rendered 112 pre-appeal decisions; 32 decisions on interlocutory appeal; four judgements and one decision on reconsideration of a judgement.


He said that the Tribunal had held a number of meetings to improve its Chambers operations.  Time limits for filing appeals had been shortened, while improvements had been accepted by Judges on their conduct of trials.  Reforms were also introduced in the pre-trial sections, giving the pre-trial Judges a more active role in case preparation.  To facilitate the pre-trial process, cases were assigned at the pre-trial stage to a Chambers Judge, who was anticipated to be one of the Judges to hear the case during trial.  The prosecution had been encouraged to select those counts in the indictments on which to proceed to ensure fair and expeditious trials and shorter periods of pre-trial detention.  That reform had been opposed by the Prosecutor, however, and the Trial Chambers had been working to build consensus with her and find ways to help her focus her cases apart from narrowing the scope of her indictments.  For example, strict time limits had been imposed on the prosecution for the presentation of her cases.


Emphasizing that the Tribunal must not close its doors before six remaining high-level fugitives were brought to justice, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladicm, he said that the Tribunal’s message and legacy must be that the international community “will not tolerate serious violations of international humanitarian law”.  He urged Member States in the region, therefore, to cooperate with the Tribunal in apprehending those fugitives.  An audit conducted into the suicide of one detained witness, and the death of Slobodan Milosevic this year, had found the quality of care and security to be positive, but had made a number of recommendations, which were currently being implemented.


Stressing that the existence and success of the Tribunal in prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the past 13 years had sent a clear message that the international community was committed to not let such crimes go unpunished, he called on the Assembly to continue its support in ensuring that the Tribunal’s historic work was not “undermined by a premature closing of its doors”.


Kirsti Lintonen ( Finland), on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union strongly supported both Ad Hoc Tribunals, in particular, for having built up extensive jurisprudence in international criminal law, including the setting of several groundbreaking precedents.  Major points established by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had been that acts of rape and violence committed with the intent to destroy a protected group could constitute genocide.  Also, the line between speech that incited genocide or persecution and speech that was protected by the freedom of expression had been established.  The Union commended those developments, but there was “still work to be done before we can close the chapter on these pioneer Tribunals”, she said.


At the same time, she noted that the Tribunals were making progress on their completion strategies.  The Union urged them to make the proceedings even more efficient and expeditious.  Efforts to enhance the administration of justice, however, should never be made at the expense of due process and the rights of the accused and of the victims.  The Union supported the extension of terms of office for all 18 ad litem judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda until the end of 2008, as requested by the Tribunal’s President and endorsed by the Secretary-General.  The Union had been pleased with the arrest of Ante Gotovina last year, however, the mandates of the Tribunals would not be fully implemented until the remaining high-level fugitives were arrested, in particular Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić and Félicien Kabuga.  Impunity was not an option, and full cooperation of the Western Balkan countries with the Court was a precondition for rapprochement with the Union.


The Union called upon Member States to live up to their international obligations by arresting and transferring the accused to The Hague and Arusha without delay, she stressed.  In addition, countries needed to relocate witnesses and sentenced persons, as well as the acquitted, and to accept convicted persons to serve sentences in their prisons.  The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) should also cooperate fully with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  Above all, the trials should be conducted in full compliance with the international standards of due process.  The Union welcomed the Tribunal’s strengthened outreach activities, and took careful note of the Courts’ call for more support from Member States in building the capacity of national judicial institutions.  That was money well invested for the international community, as it enabled the States in question, not only to adjudicate the cases, but also to carry on the legacy of the Tribunals, she concluded.


HUGH ADSETT (Canada), speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that the completion strategies of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda depended on the Tribunals remaining focused on meeting important deadlines and on the arrest by States of indictees who remained at large.  The arrest and transfer of Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić and Félicien Kabuga needed to remain a top priority for the Tribunals and the international community.  He called on all States, particularly those where fugitives were believed to be located, to substantially increase their efforts leading to arrests.


He pointed to a clear need for a coordinated and standardized plan of action to address issues that would arise after the physical closure of the Tribunals, stressing that those must be dealt with properly in order to secure the Tribunal’s legacy and the further transition of the States concerned from conflict to peace.  To prompt strategic thinking on residual issues, Canada would sponsor a workshop in early 2007.


JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) reiterated serious concerns that the Tribunal’s staff included individuals who were themselves accused of having committed serious crimes during the 1994 Genocide.  At the end of September, his Government had brought to the Security Council’s attention the fact that 14 individuals who were well known to be “genocide suspects” were employed by the Tribunal.  Ten of those suspects had resigned since then, and the Tribunal must now expeditiously resolve that very serious issue, including by making public the report of the independent investigation, and following that up with arrests and prosecutions.


Further, he said, as the Tribunal moved towards completing its work in the next two years, it became more imperative than ever that it do so with the highest standards of integrity and veracity, in addition to efficiency.  There were four particular areas where progress was most urgent.  First, the most serious perpetrators of the genocide must not be allowed to evade justice.  The Tribunal’s completion strategy should not be seen as an exit strategy for the obligations of the international community to bring all suspects of the crime of genocide to trial.  In fact, appropriate measures should be put in place to ensure that all accused were brought to justice even after the Tribunal’s mandate expired.


Second, he said, the trials must take place as near as possible to where the crimes were committed.  Trials targeted for transfer should take place in Rwanda, so as to contribute to national efforts to eradicate the culture of impunity and promote reconciliation by allowing the people to be first-hand witnesses to justice being served.  The Government was working with the Tribunal to prepare for the transfers, including addressing the death penalty issue, and it had made significant progress in developing the capacity of the judiciary.  The international community must support the preparation of transferring trials to Rwanda and must financially support the trials once they began.


Similarly, he said, convicts should serve sentences in Rwanda, where the crimes were committed.  A detention facility built two years ago had been inspected and approved by the Tribunal, and yet there was a delay in effecting transfers, for which the reason was still unclear.  The transfers must be carried out expeditiously.


Finally, he said, the completion strategy should incorporate the transfer of all court documents and materials to Rwanda.  Also, a genocide prevention and educational centre should be set up by the international community, not only in memory of the one million Genocide victims, but also to serve as a centre of search and learning about lessons learned and as a centre to promote justice, reconciliation and human rights.


MARI SKAARE ( Norway) said that the Tribunals had made a crucial contribution to international criminal law and had developed a jurisprudence that set standards for national, as well as international, tribunals.  They had made significant achievements in the fight against impunity for mass atrocities, beyond their specific mandates.


She welcomed the decision to allow the Yugoslav Tribunal ad litem judges to serve as reserve Judges and to extend the term of office for the permanent Judges of the Rwanda Tribunal.  She also supported the extension of the terms of office for all 18 ad litem judges until the end of 2008.  It was critical to the success of both Tribunals that all States were committed to fulfilling their mandates and providing concrete and effective cooperation, in accordance with legal obligations.  That included honouring financial commitments and paying assessed contributions on time, as well as fulfilling obligations to arrest and transfer fugitives to the Tribunals without delay.  It was unacceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes avoided legal proceedings.  Her country had an agreement on enforcement of sentences with the Yugoslav Tribunal, and it was cooperating with the Rwanda Tribunal in several fields.  All States must honour their international obligation to cooperate with all requests of the Tribunal with regard to witnesses, financial and material support, and in enforcement of sentences, she stressed.


MIRJANA MLADINEO (Croatia), associating herself with the statement delivered earlier on behalf of the European Union, was satisfied that, under its new President, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had significantly improved its procedural efficiency.  In addition, the Office of the Prosecutor had opened a new chapter by referring first cases to national courts -– two of them to Croatia.  The Tribunal’s relevance in ending impunity and advancing the cause of justice remained undisputed.  No less important was its role in consolidating national judiciary in the region in dealing with war crimes.  Referral of cases under rule 11 bis, which Croatia had long advocated, testified to the advanced levels of stability, confidence, commitment and inter-State cooperation in the administration of justice in war crimes prosecutions.


She said that before it could be claimed that a full circle had been completed and justice properly served, however, it was imperative to arrest, surrender and try the remaining fugitives.  That was the cornerstone of the exit strategy.  Cooperation remained crucial for completing the Tribunal’s mandate.  The Government of Croatia had made it clear that it took that responsibility seriously.  With the arrest of the accused Ante Gotovina in Spain last year, the last remaining issue in relations with the Tribunal had been resolved.  She was pleased that the scope and quality of her country’s cooperation had been reflected in the Prosecutor’s assessments.


Croatia’s commitment did not stop at The Hague, however, as it continued to believe that national courts had a critical role to play in the depoliticizing of war crimes, she said.  The establishment of individual criminal responsibility, on all levels and on all sides, was a prerequisite to stability, reconciliation and peace.  Special War Crimes Courts in Croatia were engaged in several cases, an increasing number of investigations of crimes had been opened and the level of inter-State cooperation in those matters had visibly intensified.  Concerning the International Criminal Court, about whose work the Assembly would hear later today, that continued to consolidate its presence in the international order.  The Court was rapidly becoming the centrepiece of the emerging system of international justice.


PAVLE JEVREMOVIC ( Serbia) said his Government had expressed full determination and political commitment to ensuring that all individuals indicted for the most serious violations of international law during the conflicts in the territory of the Former Yugoslavia be brought to justice, either by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia or by domestic judiciaries.  In that regard, since 2004, Serbia had invested considerable efforts in apprehending and transferring to The Hague 16 indictees, mostly high-ranking military and police officers.  In July, the Government had adopted an action plan on further cooperation with the Tribunal, and thus far, appropriate institutional mechanisms had been put in place with a single purpose: to locate, arrest and transfer Ratko Mladic and other remaining fugitives.


He said his Government believed that the hiding of Mladic was “an act of dishonesty that directly threatens the national State interests of Serbia”.  It had done everything in its power, therefore, to locate that fugitive and transfer him to The Hague.  Towards that goal, the people who had helped Mladic evade justice were now under investigation or awaiting trial.  Altogether, 11 suspects had been brought before the courts and sentenced as accomplices.  Still, it had not been possible to locate Mladic, and the Government, aware of the political and moral damage his fugitive status was causing for Serbia, remained determined to close that case.


He went on to emphasize his Government’s willingness and readiness to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Prosecutor’s Office in the provision of access to State archives and documents, as well as to witnesses.  Serbia had so far granted waivers to more than 500 former members of the army, as well as police and Government service to testify as witnesses.  Further, visits from top Serbian judicial officials and Tribunal officials between Belgrade and The Hague had become routine.


On the Tribunal’s completion strategy, he reiterated the readiness of Serbia’s two judicial bodies -- the Special Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes and the Department of War Crimes of the Belgrade District Court -- to process indicted individuals, including those cases that might be transferred from The Hague.  Still, not a single case had been transferred to Serbian courts, despite positive assessments of its judiciary proceedings by domestic courts of some States, including some of the permanent members of the Security Council.  “Let me emphasize again that we firmly believe that mutual cooperation and trust will contribute to the effective administrative justice,” he said, stressing that Serbia’s new Penal Code, which stipulated responsibility for serious violations of humanitarian law during armed conflict, as well as a recently adopted witness protection law, further bolstered the country’s framework for processing war crimes.


TEK BAHADUR CHOKHAL ( Nepal) said his Government was pleased by the internal and external reforms undertaken by both the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and urged both Tribunals to ensure that they fulfilled their mandates in the time frame of the completion strategy.  The assistance of Member States concerned would play a crucial role in strengthening the Tribunal’s capacity.  The Tribunals should scrutinize their practices and procedures in search of ways to fulfil their mandates on time.


Assuring the Assembly that Nepal believed in the principles of no impunity for crimes against humanity, he said his Government was fighting impunity at the national level.  It had set up a high-power independent commission to investigate human rights abuses committed against the People’s Movement last April, and recommendations for the prosecution of those suspected of carrying out those actions were forthcoming, he said.


RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD ( India) said that the profile of international jurisprudence had been boosted with the creation of the International Criminal Court and the establishment of the United Nations International Tribunals dealing respectively with the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  Since those had been the first such bodies created since the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals after World War II, their legitimacy had faced a great number of political and legal challenges.  Further, in establishing the Security Council’s competence to set up those bodies, a number of scholars had come to the conclusion that the drafters of the Charter did not have the intention to endow that 15-nation body with such competence.  Other scholars had relied on the principles of “implied powers” and “subsequent practice” to justify the attribution of legislative power to the Council.


He said that despite what some believed, the Council had not been assigned any judicial functions under the Charter and, therefore, could not set up a subsidiary body, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, entrusted with powers that the Council, itself, did not possess.  “In other words, you cannot give what you don’t have,” he said.  Establishing the Tribunals was not a peace-making function of the Council, under Chapter VII of the Charter.  Rather it was a law-making -– not to mention a law-determining and a law enforcing – measure, which fell outside its functions under Chapter VII and any other provision of the Charter or international law.


On the work of the Tribunals themselves, he stressed that, while international courts could effectively punish those found guilty of high crimes, the Courts were often unable to deliver on other goals, including the promotion of a range of “social” aims, such as deterrence, fostering respect for the rule of law and national healing.  Indeed some held the view that “international prosecutions” were carried out by foreign jurisdictions that had little or no connection to the perpetrators, victims or communities in which the crimes had taken place.  That fact, coupled with challenges associated with investigating and prosecuting some international crimes, made it clear world tribunals could not prosecute all perpetrators.  It was necessary, therefore, to strengthen national judicial systems and to create effective and lasting domestic legal and judicial institutions, which upheld the rule of law.  He, therefore, called on the international community to help boost the local capacities of national justice systems and local judicial personnel.


TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) encouraged both the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to fulfil their completion strategies within the planned timeframes. The termination of the Milosevic trial, due to his death, had been unfortunate, because it held back the completion of justice.  Japan hoped that the arrest and extradition of remaining key fugitives, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and Felicien Kabuga for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, would be completed with the support of neighbouring States.


He said he appreciated the early commencement of multi-accused trials in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as his Government remained interested in the speedy development of those trials.  Japan also endorsed the Secretary-General’s request for extending the terms of office of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s Judges, and the expansion of that Tribunal’s pool of ad litem Judges.


Japan was cooperating with the United Nations Development Programme in building the capacity of judicial staff members in the war crimes chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he noted.  The training included sessions on how to use the system of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as well as how to access the Tribunal’s resources and database.  He called on both Tribunals to present regular reports to the Security Council and the Assembly on the precise scheduling of appeal cases.


ILYA ROGACHEV ( Russian Federation) said matters concerning the Rwanda Tribunal had been handled well and expeditiously.  The completion strategy had been formulated, and the Council had expeditiously dealt with requests and issues such as the extensions of terms for judges.


Unfortunately, he said, the same could not be said for the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  That was a politically biased organ, whose decisions should be analysed for a comparison of sentences based on nationalities.  It was time to move onto a completion phase.  The fact that all those accused had not yet been apprehended should not serve as an excuse for continuing the Tribunal indefinitely.  It was time to turn to certain organizational matters that would arise as the Tribunal finished its work, such as the archiving of materials and settling of issues related to the pensions for judges.


WANJUKI MUCHEMI ( Kenya) said his Government applauded the extension of the terms of the Judges in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to 2008, and urged the Assembly to consider expanding the mandates of the Tribunal’s pool of ad litem Judges.


Stating that his Government remained concerned by the number of indictees who remained at large, he assured the Assembly that Kenya had been steadfast in its cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since its inception.  That had included finding suspects of the killings who had hidden among the waves of refugees who fled to Kenya following the massacres.  Given that background, Kenya was extremely concerned about allegations that Felicien Kabuga, one of the leading indictees at large, was being allowed to live freely in Kenya.  To tackle those allegations, his Government had held high-level meetings with officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to try to trace Kabuga’s movements.  A number of steps to apprehend Kabuga had been presented and his Government hoped those efforts would bear fruit.


PHILIPPE KIRSCH, President of the International Criminal Court, briefed the Assembly on the second annual report of the International Criminal Court, summarizing its activities and the place it had taken within an emerging system of international justice.  Two new States had joined the Rome Statute since the last report, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Comoros, bringing the number of States that had ratified or acceded to the Statute to 102.


He noted that this year marked the International Criminal Court’s third anniversary of operations.  In January, States parties elected a second set of the judges to replace those whose term had ended.  The Court was moving towards its first trials, and was reviewing four situations that had been referred to it. Those situations would be reviewed within the framework of a new prosecutorial strategy, which had been adopted by the Office of the Prosecutor this year. The investigations were on northern Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur, the Sudan.  In northern Uganda, arrest warrants had been issued by the Court against five persons.  The Prosecutor was helping the Government of Uganda in the identification process of the accused.


Judicial proceedings were continuing before the Pre-Trial Chamber on various issues, including execution of the arrest warrants and unsealing of confidential documents. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had surrendered Thomas Lubanga Dyilo.  In his case, the Pre-Trial Chamber had addressed complex legal provisions, such as how much evidence should be revealed to the defence to ensure full protection of the rights of the accused, with the need to protect victims and witnesses.  In Darfur, Sudan, the first pre-trial proceedings had been conducted.  The Prosecutor had briefed the Security Council on how local conditions had made it impossible to investigate in Darfur, and how investigations were taking place in other countries.


In 2006, the Appeals Chamber had addressed such issues as the scope of appellate review and decisions on jurisdiction and admissibility.  The rulings of the Appeals Chamber constituted the final interpretations of the Rome Statute on issues that had been subjected to litigation.  Two situations had been analysed and dismissed in the last year, and five others were under review for jurisdiction and admissibility. Two of those situations were in the Central African Republic and in Côte d’Ivoire.


Security in the field, overall, had continued to be a serious concern, as the Court operated in circumstances of ongoing conflict and potential volatility.  The extent of the challenges facing the Court was unlike anything experienced by other courts as tribunals.  Security concerns and the challenges of protecting victims, witnesses and others at risk had caused delays in Court activity.  Missions to the field had been cancelled due to changing events on the ground.  The Court’s field office in Chad, which worked on the Darfur investigations, had been closed temporarily earlier this year because of rising violence.  The office had since reopened, but operating in the midst of ongoing conflicts required additional precautions, such as arranging standing medical evacuation capacity.  Field offices were also situated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, he said.  Their responsibilities included witness protection, victims’ participation and reparations and support to defence counsel.  One of the most important activities of the Court’s field offices were their outreach activities to local populations.  Outreach missions were being strengthened in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Court had been working on general awareness-building.  Special programmes targeted victims and the media.  During the General Assembly debate lat year, States expressed the wish for the Court to carry out some proceedings in the field.  The judges would make those decisions based on security conditions.  An appropriate geographical distribution of Court activities was an important objective in the Court’s strategy, and an estimate of the resources needed to conduct hearings “in situ” had been included in its 2007 budget.


He urged Member States to continue their cooperation with the Court, especially with the arrests of suspects, evidence gathering, and questioning.  Some States had entered into agreements on the relocation of witnesses, and he hoped that more States would become involved in those activities.  Effective cooperation between the Court and the United Nations was also valuable, especially in the field. The Court would be entering into an agreement with the African Union.  The new emerging system of international justice extended beyond cooperation with the International Criminal Court.  National court systems needed to be strengthened, as the International Criminal Court only came into the picture when national courts were unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute crimes themselves.  The International Criminal Court was having an impact on the regions where it was operating, and the deterrent effect of the Court would increase over time, as proceedings were started in other areas.


KIRSTI LINTONEN (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed the Union’s strong support for the Court and the Rome Statute, in the conviction that peace was impossible if individual accountability for the most serious international crimes was not addressed.  The Court played a significant role in ensuring accountability where national judicial systems had failed, whether due to unwillingness or inability to act.  In any case, the Court was an institution for exceptional cases only.


Welcoming the Court’s actions, including the investigation of the situation in the Sudan as referred to it by the Security Council, she said she supported the Court becoming the centrepiece of an emerging system of international criminal justice.  Also welcome had been the Court’s increased cooperation with other international and hybrid tribunals, such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  The Court’s deepened cooperation with international organizations, particularly the United Nations, where the liaison office had been newly established, was also cherished.  The Union had concluded a cooperation agreement with the Court in April, and it encouraged others, such as the African Union, to formalize cooperation with the Court.  The Union was willing to assist States with the Statute ratification process or its implementation.


Since the Court did not have enforcement capacity, assistance was particularly needed for the arrest of suspects, the provision of evidence, the relocation of witnesses and the enforcement of sentences, she said.  On its own, the Court should continue to develop its strategic plan, the dialogue it initiated with States parties and its intensified effort in the area of outreach to those affected by crime.  She welcomed the holding in June of the third intercessional meeting of the special working group on the crime of aggression, which was concerned with a definition of that crime, as a matter concerning United Nations members as a whole.  She urged everyone to attend those meetings.


MARGARET HUGHES FERRARI (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), welcomed the specific milestones achieved by the International Criminal Court, including the issuance of the first arrest warrants for five members of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  At the same time, she noted that those militiamen had not yet been arrested, since the Court did not have its own police force and had to rely on the cooperation of States in that regard.  He, therefore, called on the States concerned to offer the Court full and unconditional cooperation, so that judicial processes could proceed and justice could be delivered.  She commended those States that had cooperated in the arrest, and surrender to the Court, of Thomas Lubanga Dylo, who had been charged with war crimes, including the enlistment and conscription of child soldiers.  With that, the Court had been able to bring its first proceeding against an accused.


She underlined the fundamental importance of the international community’s cooperation with the Court, in order to ensure that it successfully fulfilled its mandate.  Under the Rome Statute, concerned States must exercise the first option to prosecute those responsible for war crimes within their jurisdiction.  But when the Court must act, it must be able to rely on Member States, international and regional organizations, civil society and other actors, to provide the necessary assistance, including the provision of evidence; the carrying out of arrest warrants; the surrender of accused persons to the Court, as well as the protection and relocation of witnesses.  She commended the work of the Prosecutor’s Office, which was sometimes conducted under dangerous circumstances, and she urged those States that had not paid their assessed contributions towards the running of the Court to do so as soon as possible.


CARICOM viewed cooperative agreements entered into by the Court and other actors as progressive steps towards that body’s successful operation, she said, welcoming, in that regard, the agreements signed between the Court and the European Union and the International Committee of the Red Cross .  Her delegation looked forward to the conclusion of such agreements with the African Union and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, in the near future.  Another important area of cooperation was the willingness of States to accept sentenced prisoners on their territories.  Hopefully, the agreement concluded between the Court and the Austrian Government would mark only the first such agreement in that regard, and that other States would follow suit.


She also encouraged States in a position to do so to contribute to the Trust Fund for Victims.  The International Criminal Court was the first court to recognize the situation of the victims of war crimes by enabling them and their families to seek reparations for genocide and other serious breaches of international law.  CARICOM commended the work being undertaken by the Court to support and assist victims and in some cases ensure their participation in its proceedings.  In doing so, it was important for the rights of the defendants to be fully respected and upheld in all cases, she added.


When the Assembly reconvened after the midday break, SABELO SIVUYILE MAQUNGO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the 28 African Member States of the Court’s Statute, said that the ad hoc tribunals established to deal with the need to deliver justice in instances of international crimes had taught the lesson that their use was limited to enforcing retributive justice, which did little to deter the commission of crimes.  The International Criminal Court, as a consequence, had been established to serve as both a deterrent and a means to end impunity.  The Court should make arrangements to hold hearings in the area where crimes had been committed so as to enhance its deterrent effect and be seen as serving justice.


With regard to the vexing debate on the Court’s role in peace processes, he said that the Court had been deliberately made complementary to national justice systems, rather than concurrent, as was the case with Tribunals.  The result was that the Court was not only an effective judiciary organ, but operationally very dependent on the cooperation of States.  Regardless of referrals, the Court could not prosecute anybody until States delivered indicted individuals.  That made the Court a tool of involved States, as intended.  The Court itself, therefore, did not determine the role it played in peace processes.  Rather, States determined the Court’s role.  So, while the Court Prosecutor was authorized to initiate investigations, the African countries supported the approach of acting only on referral from States, as had been so far the practice, particularly at the early stage of the Court’s existence.  The Court, as a tool of accountability, could be activated or deactivated by national judicial systems when complementarity was appropriately invoked before the Court.


On the important question of States parties’ responsibility to the Court and to international organizations, he said the African Union should conclude a relationship agreement with the Court in the same manner as the United Nations had done.  He further called on States and private donors to support the Court’s Victims Trust Fund.  A list should be compiled, and mechanisms instituted, for areas of cooperative actions to be taken individually and jointly through intergovernmental organizations.


Finally, he welcomed the positive developments from the United States in withdrawing the restrictions imposed on States that had declined to sign the so-called “article 98 agreements” granting immunity to United States nationals and government employees from the Court’s jurisdiction.  Now, all States of good will were “on the same correct side” of respect for the rule of law.  Avenues were also opened for increased cooperation with the United States in strengthening both national and international criminal justice systems, he added.


JENNIFER MCIVER (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, said that the International Criminal Court was a product of the international community’s will to ensure that those who committed genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes were brought to justice.  Her delegation believed that all Member States must continue to ensure that a fundamental element of the Organization’s response to conflict situations was the pursuit of justice.  “The International Criminal Court is recognition of that principle and must continue to be employed by the United Nations to that end,” she added.


She welcomed the progress the Court had made over the past year, particularly its first successful execution of an arrest warrant against Congolese national Thomas Lubanga, accused of war crimes, who was arrested and surrendered to the Court in March.  At the same time, she cautioned the Assembly to remember that the International Criminal Court “is only an institution and that it relied on States and international and regional organizations to assist in the arrest and surrender of accused persons, providing evidence, protecting witnesses and enforcing sentences.


Towards that goal, five arrest warrants issued last October against members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, accused of sexual enslavement and forced conscription of child soldiers, had not yet been executed, she said.  In addition, the International Criminal Court’s investigation into serious international crimes in Darfur was facing immense challenges.  With that in mind, Canada, Australia and New Zealand would continue to do all within its power to ensure that the Court carried out its role to prosecute those responsible for the most heinous crimes against humanity.


PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) congratulated the International Criminal Court for its progress and level of activity in a short time of operations and welcomed the Court’s new liaison office in New York, which would extend the ongoing cooperation between the various organs of the United Nations.


The Court was playing a central role in the emergent system of international criminal justice, he said.  The Security Council had paved the way for that new justice system when it established the ad hoc Tribunals in the early 1990s.  Switzerland encouraged the current cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, which was exemplified in the Criminal Court’s work with the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Independent Investigation Commission established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1595 (2005).


He said that the impact of the International Criminal Court went beyond the judicial: it also contributed to sustainable peace and security.  The three cases currently being handled by the Court originated in current conflicts.  His Government hoped that the Court’s involvement would deter future crimes and help to contain and eventually end those conflicts.  The United Nations had recognized the role of international criminal justice as an instrument of deterrence against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  The role of the Court had to be factored in when designing strategies for conflict prevention and mediation, including in peacekeeping operations.  The Court needed the support of Member States, in particular, in relation to the arrest of accused persons, the provision of evidence and the enforcement of sentences.  He urged all States that had not yet joined the International Criminal Court to do so as soon as possible.


CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said that the first investigations of the Prosecutor in a number of situations had sent a clear message to past and potential perpetrators in other parts of the world: that even if their country might not be able to bring the perpetrators to justice, the International Criminal Court could.  The Court was contributing to deterrence worldwide.  It had fully lived up to the expectation of an impartial and independent judiciary and was beyond any suspicion of politicization.  Even as an independent institution, however, the Court could not act alone.  Thus, he welcomed the establishment of the Court’s Liaison Office in New York, saying it would help promote a cooperative relationship between the Court and Member States and the United Nations system.


Saying that justice and peace were not mutually exclusive goals, he explained that the real peace-versus-justice dilemma was the fact that, before the Court’s establishment, there was no permanent international institution that could deliver justice for the worst crimes committed during conflict.  Because of that glaring gap in the system of international institutions, impunity was a reality, and amnesty was a bargaining option for those responsible for crimes.  The Court’s establishment, therefore, represented a paradigm shift, which, over time, would deprive those responsible for the worst crimes of the opportunity to demand amnesty because their counterparts in negotiations would not be able to guarantee their impunity.  Negotiations and deals with those responsible for such crimes, therefore, would have to rely on elements and incentives other than permanent impunity.  Eradicating impunity in the long run would contribute to sustainable peace, particularly in post-conflict situations, and to deterrence worldwide.


He pointed out that the Rome Statute, nevertheless, allowed certain flexibility in investigations, in particular, in light of the interests of victims and the interests of justice.  That flexibility, however, was not subjected to negotiations with criminals.  Liechtenstein had supported the Court from the beginning and would continue to do so wherever possible and it had adopted the necessary implementing legislation.  One important priority was the ongoing work on the definition of the crime of aggression.  Much progress had been made in that regard and he looked forward to continuing discussions.  He, meanwhile, invited all States not yet parties to the Rome Statute to continue to evaluate the Court’s work.  So doing would allow them to join the majority of United Nations Member States who had decided to become part of that historic enterprise.


JUAN MANUEL GOMEZ ROBLEDO ( Mexico) said that the Court was now fully operational and was headed towards universality.  Under the Rome Statute, the Court was undertaking investigations in three cases; two referred by State parties and one by the Security Council.  The Court was also facing immense challenges.  A fundamental pillar of the Court’s activities depended on cooperation from international and regional organizations, States and civil actors.  Therefore, States must comply with the Statute in good faith and assist in the gathering of evidence, care of victims and enforcement of sentences.  He also called for greater cooperation with United Nations and Government agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in other areas like Darfur, where the logistical situations were difficult.


He also said that the Security Council could mandate United Nations missions to provide assistance and cooperation to investigators and other officials of the Court.  He called on States, as well, to step in to help in providing security, among other things, because the Court did not have any police or enforcement capabilities.  Mexico agreed that complimentarity must been seen as independent, and impartial -- a “positive” -- an incentive for States to prevent the commission of crimes in their territories, as well as a way to ensure that victims and others living in States that were unable or unwilling to prosecute serious crimes against humanity were provided with some assistance.


RODRIGO RIOFRIO ( Ecuador) congratulated the International Criminal Court on its progress and said that, because of its independence and impartiality, it was destined to become an active proponent of peace.  The Court had advanced in its purposes, despite such obstacles as a lack of help in completing orders of detention.  He called on other Member States to help the Court with the detention of accused individuals, evidence gathering and the protection of witnesses.  Only these measures would guarantee the completion of trials and an end to impunity.  On 19 April, Ecuador signed the Rome Statute and introduced a national law proposal that covered crimes against humanity.  He urged other Member States to support the Court and defend its work to combat impunity.


César Mayoral ( Argentina) highlighted the detention and transfer of Thomas Lubanga to The Hague, with the support of the Security Council through resolution 1533 (2004).  He continued to observe the investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Darfur, the Sudan.  Regarding the detention orders issued against the leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, his country believed that innovative solutions must be sought, and the authorities of the aforementioned countries must fully cooperate, in order to achieve the capture of leaders against whom the arrest orders were issued.  He called upon the Government of the Sudan to make both the investigation and safety of witnesses possible.


Acknowledging the work of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), he called upon the Governments of Chad and the Sudan to continue their cooperation with the investigation of the Prosecutor.  The recent publication, the Strategic Plan of the International Criminal Court, was an important base of reflection for the future of the Court.  He urged States that had not signed or ratified the Rome Statute to do so, as soon as possible, and to surrender and detain those who faced charges.


MAHMOUD SAMY ( Egypt) emphasized the role of international courts in ensuring the rule of law, especially international humanitarian law, which was important in keeping peace and security worldwide.  Such courts complemented national justice systems, which were the primary authorities responsible for bringing the perpetrators of heinous crimes to justice.  In the respective spheres of their mandates, international courts, whether dealing with genocide or other crimes against humanity, or aggression, must prosecute all persons accused to ensure that none enjoyed impunity, especially those who issued directives and implemented such crimes in times of armed conflict or against peoples living under occupation.


On the work of the International Criminal Court and the types of crimes that might come under its purview, in light of current international events, he said it was more necessary than ever to augment its efforts to reach agreement on the crime of aggression.  He would also emphasize that the Court’s work should not be politicized or selective.  He, therefore, called on the Security Council, and on the Court itself, to bring all those accused of crimes against humanity before the Court without discrimination.  He also affirmed the principle of transparency, and would decry the resort to “secret lists” containing the names of accused persons.


On the Rwanda Tribunal, he noted, Egypt had organized a symposium last year to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 1994 genocide.  That event had sought to remind everyone of the horrific crimes that had been committed, the impact of those terrible crimes on the people of Rwanda, and, importantly, of the need to support the Court.  On the Yugoslav Tribunal, he was concerned that several high-profile indictees remained at large.  He called for cooperation among all the States of the region to ensure that those fugitives were arrested and prosecuted.  Reiterating his call for non-selectivity, he expressed the hope that, in the near future, those accused of committing crimes against humanity in the Occupied Arab Territories in Palestine and Lebanon would also be brought to justice.


VICTOR KRYZHANIVSKYI (The Ukraine) said his country was a strong supporter of the idea that an effective functioning International Criminal Court would end impunity of those who hid behind the principle of State sovereignty.  The Rome Statute would have jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression, irrespective of national boundaries.  For the Ukraine, the introduction of the term “crimes of aggression” had been the most important in the Statute.


He said his country signed the Rome Statute on 20 January 2000, and had immediately started to elaborate and ratify the implementing legislation, a prerequisite to its introduction in the Ukrainian Parliament.  Final approval was held up by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, however, which rejected the paragraph of the Rome Statute that states that “an International Criminal Court is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions”.  Internal procedural measures would be taken in the Ukraine in the near future to complete the submission of the Rome Statute to the Parliament for ratification.


MARI SKAARE ( Norway) said her Government was pleased with the strengthening of the relationship between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations.  The Court had a crucial role to play in ensuring justice and complementing national systems aimed at achieving accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.


Recognizing the challenge posed by the need to first reach ceasefires and peace agreements, which sometimes included negotiating with people who had perpetrated the gravest crimes, she said that the two aims of peace and justice were interrelated and that the international community needed to strive for the achievement of both goals.  Facilitating the end of conflict and contributing to durable peace were demanding challenges for the international community, and Norway urged Member States to reach out and explain to their populations the true nature of the Court and its system, and to cooperate fully with the Court’s mandate.


CARLOS S. DUARTE ( Brazil) recalled that the Rome Statute now had 102 States parties, which was a clear demonstration of the growing awareness by the international community that it needed to combat war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, in a collective manner.


He said that the establishment of the Court had brought forth a new and decisive tool for defending human rights and promoting justice and the rule of law for the benefit of all.  The Court’s existence itself ensured that perpetrators of the serious crimes defined in the Statute could no longer expect impunity.  At the same time, the Statute’s provisions offered sufficient guarantees against abuses and guaranteed that the Court would not be used to pursue illegitimate political ends.  The Court’s ability to fulfil its noble functions, however, depended on the support of States and the international community, as a whole.  All States should ratify or accede to the Rome Statute to strengthen the common international endeavour to uphold human rights and promote justice and the rule of law, he urged.


WANJUKI MUCHEMI ( Kenya) noted the cooperative agreements signed between the Court and the European Union and Austria on matters related to judicial assistance, arrest and surrender of victims, as well as for acceptance of persons sentenced by the Court.  As the Court had no police force or prisons, state cooperation on those matters was critical to the Court’s function.  The Court should intensify efforts to conclude cooperative arrangements with both States and regional organizations.  In particular, the African Union should conclude such an agreement soon, since all the situations presently being investigated were in Africa.


Commending the Court’s outreach activities to promote acceptance of its work and assist victims in realizing their rights, he said he looked forward to receiving a composite strategy on the Court’s outreach programmes at the next Assembly of States parties.  With regard to the principle of complementarity, he urged close collaboration and dialogue between the Court and the States of original jurisdiction.  It should be kept in mind that most victims in the situations under the Court’s jurisdiction had been exposed to long periods of conflict.  Focusing on processes while turning a blind eye to sustainable peace could be counter-productive.  “Peace and justice are not mutually exclusive and should be addressed simultaneously”, he said.


ADI KHAIR ( Jordan) said that the International Criminal Court’s unsealing of its first arrest warrants, and the ensuing proceedings against the accused, had marked an important turning point in its history.  Jordan valued the efforts of Prosecutor’s Office and commended the Court’s endeavour to develop understanding and awareness of its role and activities in relation to both proceedings and investigations among local populations in areas where its work was underway.  Jordan was also satisfied with the first version of the Court’s strategic plan, which had been adopted earlier this year, as well as with the developments regarding the relationship between the Court and the United Nations.  In that regard, he welcomed the establishment of its liaison office in New York.


He said his country was aware of the difficult ground conditions under which the Court and its staff were forced to work, and he, therefore, called on all States, relevant regional organizations and United Nations entities to cooperate with the Court and to provide it with the necessary support and operational assistance in the field.


LUIS CHAVEZ-BASAGOITIA ( Peru) said that the establishment of the International Criminal Court was conceived, not only as an effective tool to fight crimes against humanity, but also as a preventive measure and a deterrent.  The Court was no longer just a dream, and notable steps had been taken this year, including the issuance of the first orders of detention.


As President of the Security Council Sanctions Committee, established by Resolution 1533 (2004), Peru had worked with other Member States in various activities, which led to the arrest of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo by the Court.  Greater cooperation from other Member States was needed, however, so that orders of detention were effectively carried out.  Support was also needed to complete investigations on the ground, increase protection of witnesses and victims and help in evidence-gathering.  The establishment of a Court liaison office in New York would improve relations between the Court and the United Nations.  The assistance given by the Court to the Special Court of Sierra Leone showed the type of collaboration that could be achieved between the Court and the United Nations in the future.


MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia) said that, with its first trials expected to begin shortly, the Court was facing a “reality check”.  As the Court did not have its own enforcement capabilities, the support and cooperation of the international community, which had brought the body into being four years ago, was just as critical today.  “We, the States parties, are its missing executive arm.  That responsibility has many facets and does not fall upon countries affected by investigation,” she said, highlighting the need for States to cooperate in areas such as relocation and the serving of sentences.


While addressing the interplay between peace and justice, some might question the Court’s impact, she said.  But, Croatia believed that peace and justice were not opposing principles; justice was a prerequisite for lasting peace, and establishing criminal responsibility could play a critical role in rebuilding national identity in societies torn by conflict.  Croatia hoped that those considerations would find resonance in the work of the new United Nation Peacebuilding Commission and other bodies dealing with post-conflict situations.  There was still some scepticism about the Court’s role and purpose, but the best way to assuage such feelings was to witness the body in action.  “We believe that its activities so far have attested to its seriousness, transparency and high standards,” she declared.


PAVLE JEVREMOVIĆ (Serbia) aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, called upon States to continue to support the universal ratification of the Rome Statute.  The success of the International Criminal Court depended on the support of the Member States and would require extensive collaboration with multilateral institutions, primarily the United Nations.  He called for the full implementation of the Relationship Agreement between the Court and the United Nations, and viewed the establishment of the liaison office as a significant step.


He said that Serbia would do its utmost to respect and uphold its international obligations under the Rome Statute, as fully reflected in the text of its new Constitution.  The District Court of Belgrade had expressed its readiness to contribute to the establishment of a database of the International Criminal Court.  The new criminal code conformed to the standards of witness protection of the International Criminal Court, and his country was a supporter of the establishment of the Victims Trust Fund.  He also supported the further strengthening of the institutional capacity and activities of the Court.


SUSANA RIVERO ( Uruguay) said it had been important to establish a mechanism to supplement national legislation in the areas under the Court’s jurisdiction.  The struggle against impunity was an increasingly important consideration for the world community.  The recent establishment of the liaison office was encouraging for the Court’s effectiveness.


She said her country had approved two laws in September, which would enable it to cooperate with the Court.  The first was related to the Court’s privileges and immunities and would allow closer cooperation with the Court.  The second was a unanimously approved law on “genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of war and cooperation with the International Court”.  In short, that law was a consolidation of human rights legislation at the national level and its adoption had ended a painful chapter in the country’s history.  Among other things, Uruguay would now be able to petition the Court on matters of concern to it.


PHILIP SEALY (Trinidad and Tobago) said that, in a relatively short period, the Court had not only begun its investigations into atrocities committed against hapless victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Sudan’s western Darfur region, but it had also been able to commence proceedings against an accused person.  Those developments marked an important milestone, not only in the promotion and enforcement of the rule of law, but also as important pillars that would support bridges aimed at the maintenance of international peace and security.  Those developments, important as they were, had been possible only because the Court had received broad cooperation from the States parties, referring States, the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations.


He went on to say that the Assembly was reviewing the Court’s report at a time when the international community had been unable to achieve the level of peace and security, as well as respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, envisioned by the Charter.  Trinidad and Tobago believed that the International Criminal Court represented hope for all mankind, not only because of its cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, or because it was the world’s only permanent war crimes court seeking to end impunity and bring relief to the victims.  The Court was a beacon of hope in trying times because of its roster of prestigious judges, prosecutors, registrars and general staff who continued to meet challenges that often bedevilled new institutions.


TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) said that his country had consistently supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court and actively participated in the meetings, including the Rome Diplomatic Conference of 1998, where the Statute creating the Court was adapted.  Although Japan had redoubled its efforts to prepare for accession to the Statute, that commitment would entail a substantial financial effort in the form of an annual contribution, which required a serious assessment against the background of his country’s serious fiscal deficits.  Japan believed that the United Nations scale of assessment rate should be applied to contributions of State parties to the ICC, based on the Rome Statute and other relevant rules.  Without the confirmation of that interpretation, Japan’s accession to the Rome Statute would be almost impossible to realize, as it could not garner the necessary public support.  Japan encouraged the States parties to the ICC to confirm that interpretation at the next Assembly of States parties.  Hopefully, the Court would continue to work diligently towards eradicating the culture of impunity and enhancing its good reputation as the only permanent international criminal court in the world.


ALLIEU IBRAHIM KANU ( Sierra Leone) called for unfettered State cooperation with the Court, adding that regional organizations, such as the African Union, could play a significant role in securing the cooperation of States in an affected area.  Also, cooperation between the Court and the United Nations was crucial in making the Court fully effective as an international criminal justice institution.  Universal ratification of the Statute was also critical.


He said that while the vision for the Court’s future benefit to humanity was clear, sadly, the Court still had detractors.  Hopefully, the signs of a change of attitude towards the Court would ultimately lead to universal participation in the Statute.  In terms of the Court’s strategic vision, the institution should adopt a resource-based strategy, rather than a demand-based strategy.  Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.  He preferred that hearings be held in the region, and as far as practicable, in the country where the crimes were committed.  In that regard, he welcomed that the Court would, where possible, conduct trials in the countries or regions where the crimes were committed.


Appealing on behalf of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, he said it was now in a critical phase of its operation; with the Charles Taylor trial due to start next year, funds were needed.  He urged the international community to “handsomely” support the Court, as its success was crucial for the consolidation of the peace process in Sierra Leone.  Returning to the International Criminal Court, he urged it to aggressively pursue those who had been indicted.  Also, the States where perpetrators were hiding must demonstrate their political will and commitment by transferring them over to the Court.  He welcomed the work done by the Court in outreach, and he urged it to undertake more extensive outreach, stressing the need to aptly demonstrate that the Court was truly international and did not belong to any particular region or peoples.  The international community must also demonstrate its commitment to victims by making financial contributions to the Trust Fund, the practical way of recognizing the victims of heinous crimes.  There was no peace without justice and the Court was the symbol of that maxim.


ZENON MUKONGO NGAY ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that the normalization of democracy in his country would be an empty vessel if the road to peace did not include justice.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo would need to fully establish the rule of law, and that was one reason why his Government was renewing its commitment to the International Criminal Court.


Proof that the new international justice system was working had been this year’s handover of Thomas Kubanga to the Court, he said.  But, the system had forgotten the people who had suffered the greatest, the victims.  Assistance for victims needed to be revised.  The victims required a well-designed compensation package.  His country also needed dissemination programs that would explain to the population the Court’s role in its affairs.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo had begun to train lawyers, criminal justice system officials and non-governmental organizations on the Court’s procedures, he said.  It was important for the Court to hold hearings in the countries that had endured the human rights violations.  His Government had started drafting resolutions to bring the Rome Statute to a vote before the Parliament.


* *** *



For information media • not an official record