Budget Committee Takes Up Proposed 2010-2011 Financing for International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia

10 December 2009

Budget Committee Takes Up Proposed 2010-2011 Financing for International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia

10 December 2009
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

19th Meeting (AM)

Budget Committee Takes Up Proposed 2010-2011 Financing for International

Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the $244.09 million budget of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the $301.89 million budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, being told that their work was expected to grow in complexity in 2010-2011, before they could wind down to a close.

Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the financing of the two Tribunals, beginning with the Rwanda Tribunal, which was committed to completing the bulk of its trial work by the end of 2010.  Judgment drafting in the ongoing trials of 25 accused persons, and in 6 other trials still to begin, could expect to be “substantially concluded” by the end of 2010.  About five cases were projected to spill over into 2011 for judgment writing.

At the moment, the tracking team from the Prosecutor’s Office was intensifying efforts to locate 11 remaining fugitives still at large, he said.  Of those, the Prosecutor intended to transfer eight fugitives to national jurisdictions for trial, with the remaining three high-level fugitives earmarked for trial at the Tribunal because of their leadership roles during the 1994 genocide.  The Security Council had itself stressed the importance of their arrest and trial.

A key pillar of the completion strategy was the referral of cases from Rwanda Tribunal to national jurisdictions, he said.  In that respect, the Office of the Prosecutor was considering measures to ensure timely completion and to reduce possibilities for an “impunity gap”.

However, he said the trial schedule and related budget proposal had not accounted for the resource requirements related to the trials of the three prioritized fugitives, as well as the trial of a fourth prioritized fugitive recently arrested.  Estimates with respect of those fugitives would be addressed “as and when necessary”.

He added that in addition to the trials, the work of the Office of the Prosecutor would focus on the increasing workload of its Appeals and Legal Advisory Division, who were due to take up the application and appeals from the judgments expected in 2009 and 2010.  The Tribunal faced a variety of challenges that affected the duration of trials and judgment drafting, linked mainly to fair trial concerns, staff constraints and parallel assignments of judges to several of the numerous ongoing trials. 

He said the overall requirements for 2010-2011 amounted to $244.09 million before recosting, reflecting a 20 per cent decrease from the revised appropriations of 2008-2009.  The Tribunal was proposing that 9 per cent of posts be eliminated and that 628 posts be retained -- less than the current authorized staffing level of 693.  Jobs to be eliminated included 22 professional posts and 43 general service posts.

He said about $6.63 million was being proposed to create an archive, and $18.42 million was proposed for the accrued liabilities related to pensions of retired judges.

With regard to resources appropriated under the 2008-2009 budget, he said the Secretary-General had proposed a final sum of $304.54 million, which was less than the revised appropriation of $305.38 million approved by the General Assembly.  The reduction stemmed largely from reduced requirements under post incumbency and other changes.

The second body under consideration, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, was due to complete seven first-instance trials during the biennium 2010-2011, he said, and would continue undertaking its seventh trial during the first three quarters of 2010.  The high complexity of the trials and appeals resulting from cases with multiple accused persons, coupled with an increase in the number and complexity of appeals, would add to the Tribunal’s workload.  There would soon be a reduction in first-instance trial activity beginning in the third quarter of 2010, following the completion of trials.

He said that, out of eight cases scheduled for 2010-2011, involving fifteen accused, the Tribunal anticipated the completion of five trials in 2010 and two in 2011.  One trial was expected to extend to February 2012.  The budget for 2010-2011 was drawn up based on a trial schedule reflecting those timelines.

In some cases, if it were not for the late arrest of fugitives, their trial could have been joined with those of others with the same crime base, thus saving time, he explained.  The timeliness of appellate activity was also affected by the postponement of certain trials, with appeals now expected to be complete no earlier than 2013. 

When factors beyond the Tribunal’s control had an impact on the anticipated completion of trials, he said additional requirements arising from them would be addressed in the context of the 2010-2011 performance report.  He noted that the budget proposal did not account for requirements related to the trials of the two fugitives who still remained at large.

In 2010-2011, the former Yugoslavia Tribunal would require about $301.89 million before recosting, he said, down by almost 20 per cent from what was appropriated for it in 2008-2009.  The Tribunal was also proposing that 25 per cent of the posts be eliminated, meaning 546 posts would be retained out of the 732 staff positions authorized by the Assembly.  Of the posts being eliminated, 86 were professional staff and 100 were general service.  The reduction of posts would allow the Tribunal to close one of its three buildings in The Hague.  To give the Tribunal added flexibility ‑‑ in view of the different dates at which critical functions were expected to be held and completed throughout the biennium ‑‑ the job cuts would be phased, and that funding for posts slated for elimination be provided through general temporary assistance. 

The Tribunal was proposing some organizational changes, he said.  It was suggested that the post of Chef de Cabinet of the President of the Tribunal be re-classified as a D-1, and that the P-5 post made available from that re-classification would be redeployed to the Immediate Office of the Registrar.  One post each at the P-4 and P-3 levels would be redeployed from the Office of the Prosecutor to the Registry to support the preparatory legal work associated with the Tribunal’s transition to residual functions.  In view of the diminishing workload, it was also proposed that the Chief of the General Services Section be reduced downward from the P-5 to P-4 level.

He said overall requirements for the biennium also included provisions of $3.79 million relating to redaction and digitization of audio-visual materials, including archiving of records of the Office of the Prosecutor and administrative records.  Another $20.17 million would go towards accrued liabilities for payment of pensions to judges and surviving spouses.  The suggested final appropriations under the 2008-2009 budget, however, would be more than that approved by the Assembly ‑‑ about $388.89 million, a $12.66 million increase ‑‑ due to exchange rate fluctuations and an increase in post incumbency and other changes.

Collen Kelapile, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), delivered the ACABQ’s comments on those proposals, noting that they included a one-time provision to finance liabilities for the future payment of pensions to judges and surviving spouses.  The value of accrued pension liability of future benefits, in present value terms, would amount to $18.4 million by 31 December 2011 for the Rwanda Tribunal, and $20.1 million for the former Yugoslavia Tribunal.  The ACABQ had recommended that the funding of liabilities for future payments be addressed in final budget submissions and performance reports, similar to the approach recommended for the funding of after-service health insurance liabilities.

He said the ACABQ recommended approval of the budget proposals for 2010-2011, and that it had noted that work on legacy issues and the proposed residual mechanism had been initiated in consultation with the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and the informal working group on Tribunals of the Security Council.

Several speakers took the floor urging both Tribunals to complete their work promptly and efficiently.  Among them were the representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, and the representative of Canada, speaking also on behalf of New Zealand and Australia.  Sweden’s representative recalled, as well, an earlier statement the group had made regarding the United Nations financial situation, and stressed the need for mandatory contributions to be paid fully, on time and without conditions.

While also stressing the importance of meeting time-frames, the representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted the challenge in doing so.  The Rwanda Tribunal, for example, suffered consistently from high vacancy rates, which was of concern.  It faced difficulty in retaining competent, knowledgeable and experienced staff to complete trials on time and in creating a smooth transition to the future residual mechanism.  She supported the ACABQ’s recommendation to step up efforts to improve the vacancy situation and encouraged the Secretary-General to continue exploring ways to retain staff.

She added that the transfer of trials from the Rwanda Tribunal to national jurisdictions was a key part of the completion strategy and that the issue of the remaining fugitives was a core part of its mandate.  In that context, she lauded the Rwandan Government’s initiative to amend its laws to remove legal hurdles to transferring cases to Rwandan courts.  She also noted the many benefits of having court archives, including to facilitate ongoing and future prosecutions and to serve as a historic record.  She said she supported steps to retain the Rwanda Tribunal archives in Africa.

The United States delegate, whose country had been a leading financial and political supporter of the Tribunals, touched on the issue of after-service health insurance and of pension liabilities for permanent judges, saying he supported the approach of including in the 2010-2011 budget only those resources required to cover current costs.  Among other things, he also lauded the Tribunals’ continued coordination to develop a project plan to transfer activities to the proposed residual mechanism, and supported further action to ensure the transition was effectively implemented.

The representative of South Africa, aligning himself with the statement by Angola, pointed out that two fugitives were arrested after the budget had been presented.  Knowing that the completion strategy had set certain targets to down-size the Tribunals, he asked whether plans were in place to ensure enough capacity to deal with the new arrestees. 

Mr. Yamazaki said information would be provided during the Committee’s informal discussions, in the presence of officials from the courts.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that, just as with other subdivisions of the Secretariat, the Tribunals must try for reasonable savings when setting out to preserve their archives, or when transitioning into residual mechanisms, particularly against the background of the global economic crisis.

He said one way for speeding up trial activity was to streamline chamber work, or to consider certain cases in parallel.  However, in order to take decisive action on the budgets of the two Tribunals, the Fifth Committee must first consider the new parameters to be outlined in a Security Council decision, yet to be taken on 16 December.

The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.