11 November 2011
General Assembly
GA/11174

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

58th Meeting (AM)


Top Officials from International Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia Hail

 

Courts’ Contributions as Deterrents against War Crimes, Further Atrocities

 


Briefing Assembly, Officials Say Courts Winding Down Work,

Need International Community’s Support to Retain Staff, Prevent ‘Impunity Gap’


As deterrents of war crimes and guards against the “baser” aspects of human nature, the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia had had a far‑reaching impact over the course of their lifespan, said General Assembly delegates in a joint debate today.


Charged with the capture and prosecution of those who had committed crimes against humanity during the 1990s, respectively in the Rwanda genocide and the brutal conflicts in the Balkans, the two bodies had made significant strides towards the ultimate completion of their mandates in 2012, their respective Presidents told the Assembly.


The officials presented the annual reports of the Tribunals, which covered the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 and described accomplishments such as the capture of several high‑profile fugitives and outreach to local communities.  The reports also enumerated a number of obstacles — particularly retaining experienced staff — facing the Tribunals as they completed their work and sought to make a lasting impact.


“As the sun sets on the Tribunal, I would like to raise the essential issue of the legacy that the Tribunals will leave for the future of international law”, said Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in what she said would likely be her penultimate annual address to the Assembly.  “It is our responsibility to collect and share the most important aspects of the work of the Tribunal before it closes its doors forever.”


Six trial judgements and four appeals judgements had been delivered over the course of the reporting period, she said, adding that only five trial judgements involving six accused individuals remained to be delivered.  The court had referred the case of Jean Bosco Uwinkindi, indicted of helping orchestrate the 1994 genocide, to Rwanda for prosecution — the first time such a referral had occurred.


However, she said, the Tribunal’s work was not yet complete.  The international community should help to ensure that there was no “impunity gap” as the Tribunal carried its work over to its successor, the Residual Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals, whose mandates in both Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia would begin on 1 July 2012.


Moreover, she stressed, the Arusha‑based Rwanda Tribunal was rapidly losing staff as it prepared to close its doors — a situation that must be corrected if its work was to be successfully completed.  “We are in danger of losing the lessons learned by an institution that has helped to shape international law”, she said, calling on Member States to see to it that the proper resources were allocated to that important body.


Echoing those concerns, Judge Patrick Robinson, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, urged the Member States of the General Assembly “not to lose sight of the importance of international criminal justice in our continual quest for international peace.”  Highly qualified and essential staff continued to leave the Tribunal at alarming rates, he said, adding, “the longer the problem continues, the longer the work of the Tribunal will be extended, and the more money it will cost the international community in the long run”.


Much had also been accomplished in the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  Two high‑profile war criminals — including Ratko Mladić, a former military chief who had evaded justice for more than 16 years — had been captured during the period under review.  Over the course of its mandate, he continued, some 6,900 courageous witnesses and accompanying persons had been called from all over the world to appear before the Tribunal, which is based in The Hague.  Cases against two persons indicted by the court were in the pre‑trial stage, 16 persons were on trial, and 17 persons were in appellate proceedings.  The court had delivered judgements in three cases over the period under review, as well as one judgement on review and one appeal judgement.


He called for the establishment of a trust fund for victims and witnesses.  “The Tribunal cannot, through the rendering of judgements alone, bring peace and reconciliation to the region”, he stressed, adding that other remedies must complement the trials if lasting peace was to be achieved.  Moreover, [both] Tribunals had demonstrated that international humanitarian law was enforceable, that it bound the conduct of senior State officials, and that the rule of law was a “living, breathing reality that forms part of the fabric of our civilization”.


During the ensuing debate, delegates joined in lauding the Tribunals for their contributions to stability, reconciliation and the rule of law.  Those effects had been felt not only in the Balkans and in Rwanda, emphasized the head of the Delegation of the European Union, but all over the world.  Since their establishment, both courts, he said, had embodied the need to fight impunity and the refusal by the international community to let the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern escape justice.


States’ cooperation remained the cornerstone of the Tribunals’ ability to complete their mandate, he said, noting that cooperation in bringing those indicted before justice was particularly crucial.  In that respect, he commended the cooperation of the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who, during the past year, had arrested and transferred to the Rwanda Criminal Tribunal suspected genocide perpetrator Bernard Munyagishari.  Nonetheless, the European Union was “gravely concerned” that 10 such individuals were still at large, and he called on Member States to intensify all endeavours to locate them.


Pointing to Serbia’s redoubled efforts in that regard, the representative of that country said that the arrests of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić had been carried out only with the full participation of the Serbian authorities.  By fulfilling its moral and legal obligations to the Tribunal and by trying war crimes in domestic courts in a professional manner, Serbia had made a significant contribution to the achievement to the goals of the Tribunal’s completion strategy, to normalizing relations among the countries of the region, and to strengthening confidence in the work of national and international institutions.


Meanwhile, the delegate from Bosnia and Herzegovina said that, for his country, the arrests of Mr. Mladić and Mr. Hadžić, “even if long overdue,” held great importance.  There could never be enough of the punishment or consolation for the crimes such as the genocides in Srebrenica and Rwanda, but as the rulings were delivered, there was the promise — and notice — to the perpetrators of mass atrocities that justice would be served.  The Tribunals dealing with those tragic events had become beacons of the international justice system, and, as they brought justice to those who had lost fathers, brothers, sons and families, he said, they also became “guardians of our own consciences”.


In other business today, the Assembly decided, by consensus, to fill upcoming vacancies on a host of subsidiary bodies.  Acting on recommendations issued last week by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Assembly filled slots on the Board of Auditors and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ); the Committee on Contributions; the Investments Committee; the Independent Audit Advisory Committee; and United Nations Staff Pension Committee.  It also took note of a report of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), by which the Committee recommended the adoption of a draft resolution on Programme Planning.  (For more information please see Press Release GA/AB/4012.)


The Assembly also adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Emergency humanitarian assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama”, with a number of delegations explaining their positions.  A debate on strengthening the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations will take place on 14 December 2011.


Also speaking this morning on the International Tribunals were the representatives of New Zealand, United Republic of Tanzania, Norway, Croatia and Russian Federation.


The representative of El Salvador introduced the draft resolution on humanitarian assistance, while the representatives of Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States spoke in explanation of position.


The General Assembly will next convene on Wednesday 16 November at 10:00 a.m. to elect members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Law Commission.


Background


As the Assembly met today to consider the work of the international criminal tribunals, it had before a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/66/209–S/2011/472) transmitting to the members of the Assembly, as well as of the Security Council, the sixteenth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  The report covers the activities of the Tribunal, in that respect, for the period between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2011.


During that period, the report notes that the Tribunal continued its efforts to complete its remaining workload at the trial and appeals levels expeditiously.  Despite major difficulties, in particular regarding staff retention and recruitment, it made significant progress, delivering six trial judgements.  However, six trial judgements involving 10 accused remained to be delivered.  Completion of the first instance work was expected by the first quarter of 2012.


The Appeals Chamber rendered four judgements in single‑accused cases, bringing the total number of persons whose judgements had been completed at the appellate level to 35.  Completion of the appeals work was expected by the first quarter of 2014, the report states.


The Office of the Prosecutor succeeded in arresting one fugitive, bringing the number of remaining fugitives down to nine.  Support was provided to the national authorities in the prosecution of related crimes, the report notes, as well as to assist them in meeting the conditions for the transfer of cases from the Tribunal.  The Registry maintained a high level of administrative and judicial support to the Tribunal, ensuing the cooperation and assistance of Member States.  The Judicial and Legal Services Division and the Division of Administrative Support Services also continued to provide support and efficient management of the Tribunal’s downsizing process.


Further sections of the report go on to describe, in more detail, the activities of the Tribunal’s President, coordination mechanisms, Chambers, Prosecutor and Registry.  Among its conclusions and recommendations, the report notes that State cooperation remained the cornerstone of the Tribunal’s ability to complete its mandate.  Efforts would have to be made, both by the Tribunal and by Member States, to ensure the arrest of the remaining nine fugitives, in particular the three high‑ranking accused earmarked for trial before the Tribunal who had evaded justice for over 17 years.  Also mentioned in its conclusions is the challenge of maintaining an adequate level of experienced staff.  The Tribunal calls upon the international community to provide it with the necessary resources to accomplish its mandate.


The Assembly also had before it a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/66/201-S/2011/473) transmitting to its members and those of the Security Council the eighteenth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  The report covers the period between 1 August 2010 and 31 July 2011.


The report states that the Tribunal continued to focus on the completion of all trials and appeals.  At the close of the reporting period, 16 persons were in appeal proceedings, 14 persons were on trial, and 5 were at the pre‑trial stage.  The Trial Chambers delivered judgements in the Gotovina et al. and Đorđević cases.  The Appeals Chamber delivered one Judgement on review in the Šljivančanin case and one appeal Judgement in the Hartmann case.  Under the authority of the President, the Registry continued to play a crucial role in the provision of administrative and judicial support to the Tribunal in a vast range of legal, policy and operational matters.


The report also reviews the work of various Services and Departments of the Tribunal, including the Communications Service, the Court Management and Support Service Section, the Conference and Language Services Section — which allowed the Tribunal to work in all of its official languages, as well as the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Macedonian and Albanian languages — and the Victims and Witness Section, which facilitated and supported close to 500 witnesses travelling to the Hague to give evidence.


The report goes on to note that the United Nations Division Detention Unit continued to operate at a high level, the report says, while the Division of Administration coordinated the preparation of the revised budget estimates for the biennium 2010‑2011 and the proposed budget for the biennium 2012‑2013, and was involved in the formulation of the first budget of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  In that vein, it remained actively engaged in the downsizing and comparative review processes.


The Tribunal faced significant challenges during the reporting period, owing to the “devastating impact of staff attrition,” the report says.  The President of the Tribunal had therefore urged the Security Council to take measures to address that issue as it approached the completion of its work.  Finally, it states that the Tribunal had, overall, concluded proceedings against 126 of the 161 persons it had indicted, and that its focus was on completing all proceedings as soon as possible without sacrificing due process.


Briefings


Judge KHALIDA RACHID KHAN, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said this would likely be her penultimate address to the Assembly:  the Tribunal’s work was nearly complete, as much had been accomplished over the past year.  However, the Tribunal’s important work was not yet done, and the assistance of the international community was required to ensure that there was no “impunity gap”.


Reviewing the work described in the annual report, she recalled that six trial judgements and four appeals judgements had been delivered over the course of the reporting period.  Only five trial judgements involving six accused remained to be delivered.  Among other actions taken, the Trial Chambers had referred Jean Bosco Uwinkindi’s case to Rwanda for prosecution — the first time such a referral had occurred.  The time between the arrest of an accused and the judgement had been significantly reduced without compromising the fair trial rights of the accused person.  (See Background)


She said that the Chief Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, who had recently been reappointed, had been focused on efforts to arrest the remaining fugitives, conduct remaining trials and appeals, provide assistance to national prosecuting authorities, and prepare records for transfer to the Residual Mechanism, which would be the successor to the Tribunal.  Requests for assistance from Member States continued to increase in order to assist national authorities in their continued fight against impunity once the Tribunal had closed its doors.


State cooperation remained of fundamental importance to the Tribunal’s work.  Through the efforts of the tracking team and in cooperation with national authorities, one arrest had been made in May 2011 bringing the number of remaining fugitives down to nine.  However, she explained, that that number included three of the most high‑ranking accused, Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana.


The number of acquitted persons remaining under the protection of the Tribunal had increased from three to five, she continued.  Those persons resided in a safe house in the United Republic of Tanzania, as there was no formal mechanism to secure the support of Member States to accept those individuals.  The prosecutor had therefore requested the renewed cooperation of States, as well as the Security Council, to make such a mechanism possible.


The Security Council, in its resolution 1966 (2010), had established a Residual Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals, which would begin operating in the context of Rwanda on 1 July 2012.  The resolution had entrusted the Mechanism, as the successor to the Tribunal, with the responsibility of managing the court’s archives, which would serve as a lasting reminder of its work.  The Tribunal was therefore of the view that the Residual Mechanism’s staff should be considered as Secretariat staff.


“As the sun sets on the Tribunal, I would like to raise the essential issue of the legacy that the Tribunals will leave for the future of international law”, she said.  “It is our responsibility to collect and share the most important aspects of the work of the Tribunal before it closes its doors forever.”  She added that, if resources were not allocated to preserve the legacy of the court, “we are in danger of losing the lessons learned by an institution that has helped to shape international law”.


Judge PATRICK ROBINSON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, addressed the Assembly next, describing that court’s work as detailed in the annual report.  Overall, cases against two persons indicted by the court were in the pre‑trial stage, 16 persons were on trial, and 17 persons were in appellate proceedings.  The court had delivered judgements in three cases over the period under review, as well as one judgement on review and one appeal judgement.


He said that on 26 May 2011, Ratko Mladić was arrested in Serbia, having evaded justice for 16 years.  He was transferred to The Hague, where he would face trial.  The last remaining fugitive, Goran Hadžić, was arrested and transferred to the Tribunal shortly thereafter.  Both arrests constituted a milestone in the court’s history, he said, and brought it closer to the completion of its work.


As it neared the end of its mandate, however, highly qualified and essential staff continued to leave the Tribunal at alarming rates.  He echoed the concerns of President Khan that such a loss negatively impacted proceedings of the court, and proposed that consideration be given to a retention incentive for the Tribunal’s staff that had served more than five years of continuous service and would remain until the abolition of their posts.  Yet, despite three resolutions from the Assembly and two from the Security Council encouraging the adoption of such incentives, no significant action had been taken. 


He said that consideration should be given to such a plan for the Tribunal’s long‑serving staff, especially those with five or more years of experience.  In 2008, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had endorsed such a retention incentive, and the Secretary‑General’s report on the issue had included calculations demonstrating that the eventual cost would be more than offset by the savings associated with reduced turnover rates and higher productivity and efficiency. 


In the same regard, he noted that the rate of staff attrition would likely accelerate as the Tribunal reached the end of its work, and suggested a mechanism to allow it to quickly and effectively replace staff for critical positions.  In some cases, interns would make ideal candidates for P-2 level posts, he said, proposing a waiver of the regulation that interns wait six months after the end of their internships before applying for posts.  “The longer the problem continues, the longer the work of the Tribunal will be extended, and the more money it will cost the international community in the long run”, he stressed.


A second area that required the support of Member States was the establishment of a trust fund for victims and witnesses.  More than 6,900 witnesses and accompanying persons from all over the world had been called to appear before the Tribunal.  Without their courage there would be no trials and impunity would reign.  Meanwhile, victims of crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia had the right to compensation under international law.  He urged the Security Council to create such a mechanism, and to “breathe life into the General Assembly’s 1985 Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.”


As a first step toward providing assistance to victims, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had secured funding to carry out a comprehensive assessment study aimed at providing guidance to the Tribunal on appropriate and feasible victim assistance measures and possible means of financing.  “The Tribunal cannot, through the rendering of judgements alone, bring peace and reconciliation to the region”, he stressed.  Other remedies must complement the trials if lasting peace was to be achieved.


“I urge the Member States of the General Assembly not to lose sight of the importance of international criminal justice in our continual quest for international peace”, he said, adding, “the deterrent effect of the threat of criminal sanctions has always been a way in which we police the baser part of our natures”.  While international criminal justice was not the solution to all of the world’s problems, it was indeed intended to save humans from self‑destruction.  The court had demonstrated that international humanitarian law was enforceable, that it bound the conduct of senior State officials, and that the rule of law was a “living, breathing reality that forms part of the fabric of our civilization”.


Statements


IOANNIS VRAILAS, Deputy Head of the European Union delegation, said that the Tribunals made invaluable contributions to the shared goal of ending impunity for serious international crimes.  They had played key roles in strengthening the rule of law and promoting long‑term stability and reconciliation — and not only in the Balkans and Rwanda.  Their jurisprudence had wider effects; since their establishment, both courts had embodied the need to fight impunity and the refusal by the international community to let the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern escape justice.


He said the Tribunals were forerunners in creating jurisprudence that was a source of inspiration for all national and international jurisdictions, in particular the International Criminal Court, which would have to address such crimes.  “International criminal justice does exist and will prevail sooner or later,” he said, and perpetrators would be held accountable for their crimes.  The arrest and swift transfer to The Hague of long‑sought fugitives Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić had demonstrated that.  Their trials would fulfill a duty to provide justice for victims and their families.


States’ cooperation remained the cornerstone of the Tribunals’ ability to complete their mandate, in particular, cooperation in bringing those indicted before justice.  In that respect, he commended the cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Congo authorities over the arrest and transfer to the Rwanda Criminal Tribunal during the past year of Bernard Munyagishari.  However, despite appeals by the international community, 10 accused individuals were at large, which was a matter of grave concern.  He called on all States to intensify efforts.


Turning to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, he said that the cooperation of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with that court had “generally been adequate” during the reporting period.  Indeed Serbia had met one of its key obligations with the arrests and transfers of the last two indictees at large.  With regard to the Rwanda Tribunal, the European Union and Member States noted that the Prosecutor held fruitful high‑level discussions regarding cooperation with his Office.  He urged the Tribunals to continue to identify further measures to complete their work as promptly as possible.


JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, offered strong support for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia saying that they had made unprecedented contributions to international jurisprudence in the area of criminal law and to the global community’s efforts to end impunity for the most serious international crimes.  In the past year, the courts had achieved important milestones, notably the arrests of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić and their transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, bringing that body closer to fulfilling its mandate, and also the decision in the Uwinkindi case, the first time a Chamber of the Arusha‑based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had agreed to transfer a case to Rwanda for trial.


He noted the Tribunal’s excellent outreach activities, and said that making judgements accessible and understandable to victims and affected communities was crucial to the court’s legacies.  Capacity‑building of domestic jurisdictions was essential to ensuring that past and future perpetrators of serious international crimes were brought to justice.  Also, welcoming the Security Council decision to establish the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, he commended the joint work of those courts in facilitating the start of the Mechanism’s operations, and to complete their own work.  He urged the Secretariat and other relevant bodies to find solutions to address the Tribunals’ staffing situations.  In closing, he called on States to support the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism and urged States, especially those in the Great Lakes region, to cooperate with the Rwanda Tribunal to ensure the arrest of remaining fugitives.


FEODOR STARČEVIĆ (Serbia) said his Government’s cooperation with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was “full” and had continued without any obstacles.  Its persistent pursuit of fugitives had resulted in the arrest of Ratko Mladic on 26 May 2011 and of Goran Hadzic on 20 June 2011.  Following procedures at Serbia’s Higher Court in Belgrade, those long‑time fugitives had been promptly transferred to The Hague.  While one indictee died before he could be arrested, Serbia had transferred 45 of 46 indictees requested by the Tribunal, thereby completing its cooperation regarding such transfers.


Continuing, he stressed that Serbia had responded in full to almost all of the Tribunal’s requests regarding documentation and data, access to Government archives and the provision of waivers for testifying in the court’s proceedings.  It was in the process of meeting recent requests, which were being received on a daily basis and were considered without delay.  The arrest and transfer of the last two fugitives provided ample evidence of Serbia’s commitment to the rule of law and its commitment to cooperating with the court.  By fulfilling its moral and legal obligations to the Tribunal and by trying war crimes in domestic courts in a professional manner, Serbia had made a significant contribution to the achievement to the goals of the Tribunal’s completion strategy, to normalizing relations among the countries of the region, and to strengthening confidence in the work of national and international institutions.


RAJABU H. GAMAHA (United Republic of Tanzania) praised the work of the International Criminal Tribunals, but pointed to enormous challenges they faced as their work wound up, particularly regarding staff reduction and the relocation of persons acquitted by the Tribunals.  He appealed for continued United Nations and international community cooperation to ensure they achieved their respective judicial goals.  The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, had had a major impact on developing international law and served as a research, learning and educational hub for universities, colleges, high schools, local and international courts in the area of International Criminal Law. 


Its work had led to the publication of “volumes of seminal works” on the theory and practice of law, he continued.  The Rwanda Tribunal had generated jobs in the United Republic of Tanzania and the country appreciated the interaction of the international community and the Tribunal.  Indeed, local individuals who had been involved with the Tribunal would be absorbed back into their governments and would contribute immensely in terms of knowledge.  Looking to the International Residual Mechanism, he said it was poised to play an important role in ensuring that the completion strategies of the Tribunals did not result in impunity.  He promised his Government’s administrative and operational support for the Mechanism to fight impunity and promote accountability.


TINE MØRCH SMITH (Norway) said that 18 years after the creation of the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia — the first international criminal tribunal since those set up in Nuremberg and Tokyo, and the first to be established by the United Nations — there were now no indicted persons who had evaded that body’s judicial process.  She echoed the words of the Prosecutor of the Tribunal, Serge Brammertz, on the arrest of the last remaining fugitive in July:  “This is a precedent of enduring significance, not only for this particular tribunal, but also for international criminal justice more generally.”  The Tribunal demonstrated that international criminal justice could be delivered.


This year’s arrest and transfer to the Tribunal of the two remaining fugitives would not have been possible without the commitment of the Serbian authorities to effectively cooperate.  Norway appreciated the efforts made by Serbia and trusted that the Serbian authorities would continue to assist the Court during the ongoing trials.  With regard to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, she said it was also positive that the number of remaining fugitives had decreased during the reporting period (by one).  However, it was far from satisfactory that as many as nine indictees were still at-large.


As was the case for the Tribunal for crimes committed in the Former Yugoslavia, the Rwanda Tribunal could only successfully complete its work if it received effective assistance from States.  She urged all States, especially those of the Great Lakes region, to intensify their cooperation with that court and give it all necessary assistance.  Both Tribunals were working hard to fulfil their mandates, and she commended them for their commitment.  She was concerned about reports from both tribunals that continuing loss of highly experienced, essential staff could undermine their ability to meet their completion strategy targets.  Norway welcomed Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010) on the establishment of the International Residual Mechanism for International Tribunals.  She was confident that their work would lead the way in the continued fight against impunity.


IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that for almost two decades, both the Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda had been guided by the demands of ensuring justice for all those who had been killed, tortured and raped in conflicts that had ravaged the two respective regions.  They became beacons of the international justice system “and guardians of our own consciences” as their work brought justice for those who lost their fathers, brothers, sons and families.


He was pleased to welcome the Presidents of the Tribunals and thanked them for detailed briefings, and their tireless efforts in fighting impunity.  He noted with deep regret the news of the death of Judge Antonio Cassese, of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  He went on to say that the annual Reports provided an overview the Tribunals’ work.  He took note of the efforts Tribunals had made to successfully complete their work, mindful of the highest standards of carrying out fair trials, requiring in return full and necessary support.  He commended their steadiness toward fulfilling the remaining judicial functions, particularly having in mind unforeseen challenges they were facing.


Continuing, he said it was important to mention late arrests that took place in the reporting period and the impact those arrests would have on the completion of the Tribunal’s work and preparation for the transition to the Residual Mechanism.  For his country, the arrests of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, “even if long overdue,” held great importance, as those long‑time fugitives would finally face justice.  There would never be enough of the punishment or consolation for the crimes such as the genocide in Srebrenica and Rwanda, but as the rulings were delivered, there was the promise — and notice — to the perpetrators of mass atrocities that justice would be served.  For those reasons, the commitment of his country to the strengthening of international criminal justice remained strong and unwavering.  In conclusion, he encouraged Tribunals to continue their work in an efficient manner.


NEVEN MIKEC (Croatia) said that his country welcomed the fact that during the reporting period, Serbia had located, arrested, and transferred to The Hague Ratko Mladić, who had been indicted for “the worst atrocities committed after the Second World War in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.”  At the same time, Croatia regretted that due to shortage of time, Mladić would not be persecuted for the crimes committed against the civilian population in that country.


The first instance judgement in the Gotovina et al case, he stated, was received in Croatia with grave consternation and provoked “strong disagreement” with some of the legal, historical, and political qualifications contained in the explanation of the judgement.  Croatia would continue to carefully follow the ongoing appeal proceedings in this significant case.  Also, he added, Croatia strongly supported cooperation and interaction between the Tribunal and Prosecutor’s Office, and competent national authorities responsible for war crimes prosecution.  He concluded by welcoming a “liaison prosecutors” project funded by the European Union as a key mechanism for strengthening working relationships between prosecutors in the region and Office of the Prosecutor.


IGOR A. PANIN (Russian Federation), thanking the Tribunals’ Presidents for presenting their reports, said such reports were particularly important in light of Security Council resolution 1966 establishing the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and setting completion dates for the Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia courts.  In that context, he noted progress in their own work, as well as in preparing cases for transfer to the Residual Mechanism.  Among the most important events of the past year were the arrest and transfer to The Hague of Ratko Mladić by Serbian authorities and the arrest, by Democratic Republic of Congo, of Bernard Munyagishari.  He expected that the latter would be turned over to a national court.  He gave a positive assessment to the cooperation of States with both Tribunals.


It was more important than ever to expedite consideration of cases in the Tribunals to meet completion deadlines, he said.  In his view, this was achievable.  He noted, however, that there was insufficient space, for those sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in the penitentiary systems of States where their sentences were to be served.  That problem should be kept in view by Member States.  Further, he said that the commencement of work of the Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals represented an important juncture in the history of the Tribunals.  The upcoming election of Judges for the Mechanism, in December, was of great significance.  Only the most highly qualified, who could carry out the Mechanism’s work effectively, should be on the list of candidates.


Action on Fifth Committee Reports


In other business today, the Assembly decided, by consensus, to fill upcoming vacancies on a host of subsidiary bodies.  Those appointments were made following recommendations issued last week by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). For details, please see Press Release GA/AB/4012


Acting by consensus and based on the recommendations of the Fifth Committee, the Assembly decided to fill vacancies on four other bodies:  the Committee on Contributions, Investments Committee, Independent Audit Advisory Committee and United Nations Staff Pension Committee.


To the Board of Auditors and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the Assembly decided to appoint Jean Christian Obame of Gabon (Group of African States); Pavel Chernikov of the Russian Federation (Group of Eastern European States); Bruno Nunes Brant of Brazil (Group of Latin American and Caribbean States); and Dietrich Lingenthal of Germany, and David Traystman of the United States (Group of Western European and other States).


To the Committee on Contributions, the Assembly decided to appoint six persons for the six three‑year slots that would begin 1 January 2012.  They were Hae‑yun Park of the Republic of Korea and Sun Xudong of China (Group of Asia‑Pacific States); Nikolay Lozinskiy of the Russian Federation (Group of Eastern European States); Henrique da Silveira Sardinha Pinto of Brazil (Group of Latin American and Caribbean States); and NneNne Iwuji‑Eme of the United Kingdom and Gonke Roscher of Germany (Group of Western European and other States).


As for the four vacancies that would emerge on the Investments Committee on 31 December 2011, the Assembly decided to appoint Masakazu Arikawa of Japan; Madhav Dhar of India; Nemir Kirdar of Iraq; and Dominique Senequier of France.  The three‑year terms to this nine‑member body would begin on 1 January 2012.  It decided to reappoint Hilda Ochoa‑Brillembourg of Venezuela and Ivan Pictet of Switzerland as ad hoc members for a one‑year term that also would begin the first of January.


The Assembly also decided to appoint the Controller and Auditor‑General of the United Republic of Tanzania to the six‑year slot on the Board of Auditors that would become vacant on 30 June 2012.


Turning to the two vacancies on the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, the Assembly decided to appoint John F.S. Muwanaga of Uganda and J. Christopher Mihm of the United States, whose three‑year slots would begin on 1 January 2012.


The Assembly then turned to the vacant slot left last month with the resignation of Andrei Vitalievitch Kovalenko of the Russian Federation from the United Nations Staff Pension Committee.  It decided to appoint Dmitry S. Chumakov to fill the remaining time of Mr. Kovalenko’s term, which expires 31 December 2012.


It also took note of a report of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) (document A/66/525), by which the Committee recommended the adoption of a draft resolution on Programme Planning.


Introduction and Action on Draft


As the Assembly next turned to matters regarding strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER  MAZA MARTELLI (El Salvador) presented a draft resolution entitled Emergency humanitarian assistance for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama (document A/66/L.7).


After making several oral amendments to that text, he said that tropical Depression 12‑E, which had affected Central America from 10‑19 October 2011, had been one of the most devastating natural phenomena to hit the region in the last decade, having caused more than 100 deaths and thousands of injuries.  It had also left miles‑long swaths of devastation and, among other things, flooding and material damage to infrastructure that had harmed agriculture and food security, and economic and commercial activity.


Due to its geographic characteristics, Central America was particularly vulnerable to weather conditions caused by climate change, which had created new risks for the most vulnerable segments of the population and sabotaged efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  “Climate change is no longer a threat to countries in the region, it is a reality, which unfortunately, we have to grapple with”, he said.  It would be even more difficult to do so without international assistance.  He expressed gratitude to those countries who had provided support and to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Only through the participation, integration and coordination of economic, social and political sectors regionally, and the cooperation of the wider international community would rehabilitation and reconstruction be possible, as well as risk management efforts and the establishment of a model for sustainable development.  He requested the Assembly to adopt the resolution by consensus as a gesture of friendship and solidarity with the region.


Speaking in explanation of position before action on the text, the representative of Italy emphasized the solidarity of the Italian people with those affected by tropical depression E‑12.  The nations of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama had suffered great losses as a result of the storm, he said, and it was critical that, as in the past, the international response — and particularly United Nations humanitarian relief — be swift and effective.  He went on to describe Italy’s contribution of hundreds of thousands of euros to relief and recovery efforts in those nations, and said that Italy would join in the consensus on the resolution before the Assembly.


Taking the floor next, the representative of Japan also conveyed solidarity with the people affected by the storm and subsequent landslides and floods.  Japan would join consensus on the resolution before the Assembly, he said.  However, Japan made a note that it did not agree with certain language contained in the draft resolution.


The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/66/L.7, as orally revised, by consensus.


The representative of Canada, speaking in explanation of position following action, recalled that his country had provided $2 million to those most severely affected by tropical depression E‑12 in the countries listed by the resolution text.  However, he stressed that the process of drafting that text had not allowed for any meaningful discussion, which did not reflect the spirit of consensus.


The representative of the United States said that his country also stood in solidarity with the victims of the tropical depression and empathized with the situation of those most affected.  More than 600,000 people had lost their homes and businesses, he recalled, and more than 100 had been killed.  Those people were individuals, he said, and the international community must continue to remember them.  The United Nations was the best venue to do so.


Through its Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States had pre‑positioned emergency supplies in Miami, near the Latin American and Caribbean region.  Other government institutions also had expert consultants placed throughout the affected region.  The United States distributed supplies and assisted fuel purchases for emergency air deliveries.  It had contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the recovery effort and encouraged others.  It had made voluntary contributions to UNDP, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies, and supported the work of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  He also called on the international community to contribute to strengthening disaster risk reduction strategies.


All over the world, he said, people faced real challenges posed by the effects of climate change.  The United States would work to reduce vulnerability to those hazards and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  However, his delegation did not agree with the resolution’s assertion that a “direct causal link” existed between the impacts of climate change and the achievement of those goals; there was no scientific evidence to back such a link.  The United States also shared the procedural concerns raised by the delegate from Canada.


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For information media • not an official record