11 July 2005 Commemorating the sombre 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica – Europe's worst massacre since World War II – senior United Nations officials today vowed to “continue the fight…to secure a full and proper reckoning” for the families of some 8,000 Muslims killed by the Bosnian Serb forces who overran the town designated by the Security Council as a "safe area."
“We share in the grief of those whose loss can never be repaired. And we pay homage to those who died. May their souls rest in peace. May we all learn, and act on, the lessons of Srebrenica,” said Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a message to a ceremony in Potocari-Srebrenica, delivered by his Chief of Staff Mark Malloch Brown.
“Our first duty is to uncover, and confront, the full truth about what happened…[and] for us who serve the United Nations, that truth is a hard one to face,” Mr Annan said, adding: “We can say – and it is true – that great nations failed to respond adequately.”
He said that it was also true that there should have been stronger military forces in place, and a stronger will to use them and that it was undeniable that blame lies first and foremost with those who planned and carried out the massacre, or who assisted them, or who harboured and are harbouring them still. “But we cannot evade our own share of responsibility,” he said.
Recalling his 1999 report on the massacre, Mr. Annan said that “serious errors of judgment” had been made, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality and non-violence which, however admirable, was unsuited to the conflict in Bosnia.
“Our…duty is to help rebuild trust among the peoples of this region. That can only be done by persisting in the struggle for justice,” he said stressing that the UN International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) has worked hard, and some important culprits had been found guilty. But those charged with being the main architects of this massacre – Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic – were still at large. “Until they are made to answer the charges against them, we cannot say we have defeated impunity,” he said.
The sentiment was echoed by Judge Theodore Meron, President of the ICTY, who said that it was fitting on this occasion to call once again for the arrest and transfer of Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic to the Hague-based Tribunal. “Those who continue to shelter these fugitives only further the cause of impunity and show contempt for the memory of the victims we honour today,” he said.
“In delivering up Karadzic and Mladic to the Tribunal, the Serbian authorities would not only be responding to international legal obligations, but they would also be serving their people's best interests. The fugitives' time in hiding must end, not next month, but this month; not tomorrow, but today. The victims of Srebrenica deserve it; justice requires it,” he said.
“The meaning of what transpired is written in the lives that were lost, the prayers that still go out, the hearts that continue to weep. In solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, we at the Tribunal will persist in our efforts to render justice and uphold basic principles of human rights,” he said.