19 November 1998


19 November 1998

Press Release


19981119 President of Yugoslav Tribunal, Noting Absences of Independent Enforcement Power, Urges International Support to Ensure Parties Compliance

A special session on the implementation of the outcome of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development would be held in Geneva from 26 to 30 June, 2000, the General Assembly decided this morning as it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on Social Summit follow-up.

By the terms of that resolution, which was introduced by the representative of Chile, it also decided that the Preparatory Committee for the special session should establish an open-ended working group to facilitate consultations during its first substantive session to be held in New York from 17 to 28 May. The objectives of the special session would be to reaffirm the Copenhagen Declaration and the Programme of Action of the Summit at the national, regional and international levels and to recommend concrete actions and initiatives to further efforts towards their effective implementation.

Also this morning, during review of the annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Tribunal President, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, told the Assembly that if the Tribunal did not succeed, it would be because the world community had failed it. Ignoring the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's non-compliance, which had escalated into blatant obstructionism, would encourage other States to do likewise.

The accomplishments already made by the Tribunal could be overshadowed if one State was permitted to ignore its internationally imposed obligations, the Tribunal President continued. The Tribunal lacked independent enforcement power to bring about compliance, and it could not help the peace process in the region without unequivocal support of the international community.

She requested the Assembly to support the Tribunal Prosecutor's bid for additional resources for 1999, as the unexpected number of successful arrests and searches had led to an underestimation of the resources required for preparation of cases and their prosecution.

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During that discussion, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said the fact that major culprits for genocide and war crimes remained free hindered peace and reconciliation in the region. He urged the international community to respond positively to the Tribunal's appeal for assistance, both in terms of resources and in executing arrest warrants. Although the international community knew who created the problems, the General Assembly, or perhaps more appropriately the Security Council and some of its most powerful members, did not have the will to carry out their responsibilities to the Tribunal, to the Assembly and to the victims and people of his region.

The representative of Croatia said that Bosnian Croats and Muslims constituted the majority of persons in the custody of the Tribunal, despite the fact that their ethnic groups were predominantly the victims. That could be attributed both to the lack of cooperation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska, and to the lack of determination of the Security Council to support the Tribunal. Until now, nobody had been indicted for committing the well-documented crimes against Bosnian Croats, and that deficiency seriously undermined the very objectives of the Tribunal.

Most speakers at today's meeting agreed the Tribunal had achieved extraordinary progress. Delegates appealed to States to take all the necessary legislative steps under domestic law to ensure effective cooperation with the Tribunal. The representative of Norway said that his Government was willing to consider applications from the Tribunal concerning the enforcement of sentences and, in conformity with its national laws, had received several convicted persons to serve their sentences in Norway.

The representatives of Austria (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Lesotho, Turkey, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Pakistan and Iran also made statements in debate concerning the Tribunal.

The Assembly also concluded its discussion of the situation in Central America this morning. The representatives of Nigeria, United States, Brazil, Japan, Uruguay, Burkina Faso (on behalf of the Organization of African Unity), Venezuela, Canada, Argentina, Spain and Colombia spoke on that issue.

When the Assembly meets again at 3 p.m. today, it will consider the question of equitable representation and increase in membership of the Security Council.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to discuss the fifth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and follow-up to the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. It would also continue consideration of the situation in Central America.

Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia

The report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, transmitted to the General Assembly by the Secretary-General's note (document A/53/219), covers the activities of the Tribunal from 1 August 1997 to 27 July 1998. The Tribunal reports that during that period it has become a fully fledged international judicial institution with the prosecutorial, judicial and administrative infrastructure required by its mandate. In the past year, the number of accused in custody more than tripled, trial activity increased dramatically, the Office of the Prosecutor initiated an investigation into events in Kosovo and continued an energetic programme in other areas of the former Yugoslavia.

The report states that 19 accused were arrested or surrendered during the reporting period. The Tribunal now has 27 indicted persons in its Detention Unit, and one had been provisionally released. The number of staff has increased to 511, with the overall number of approved posts totalling 646. The budget of the Tribunal now totals $62,331,600 net. During the period under review, two additional courtrooms have been constructed, and the Security Council has approved a request for three additional judges. Amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence have allowed the Tribunal to put in place a pre-trial judge and pre-trial conferences, and to enhance the Chambers' ability to accommodate the large number of accused on trial.

The Tribunal also reports that, at the close of the reporting period, there were 13 cases at trial, pre-trial and appeal stages, and two cases had been closed during the year. Trials in the Celebici, Blaskic, Aleksovski and Kovacevic cases are currently being heard. Argument was completed in the Dokmanovic and Furundzija cases, but the former case was terminated following the death of the accused. The trial on the latter case is to be reopened for presentation of additional evidence. In the Erdemovic case, the accused's initial plea of guilty to a crime against humanity was invalidated by the Appeals Chamber, and the case was returned to a Trial Chamber. There the accused pleaded guilty to a violation of the laws or customs of war and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. The remaining seven cases are in various stages of pre-trial preparation.

Regarding the activities of the Appeals Chamber, the report states that in addition to entertaining numerous applications for appeal, it heard a request from the Republic of Croatia for review of the decision of Trial Chamber II upholding the issuance of subpoena in the Blaskic case. The

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Chamber pronounced upon the power of the Tribunal to issue subpoenas and binding orders, including those to States, State officials and individuals.

The Office of the Prosecutor has continued with its dual roles of investigating violations of international humanitarian law and of prosecuting cases in court. Following the arrival of 19 new accused, however, the balance of the Prosecutor's limited human resources shifted away from investigative activities towards assisting pre-trial preparations of cases. Increased budgetary resources have since enabled the Office of the Prosecutor to resume vigorous investigative activity, which includes exhumation programmes, and has recently been extended by the Security Council to cover the conflict in Kosovo. In addition, the Office of the Prosecutor has obtained search warrants for the seizure of documentary evidence, opened a liaison office in Banja Luka, put into operation information retrieval systems, conducted workshops and contributed to the initiative to establish a permanent international criminal court.

The report further states that the Court's Registry has provided support to the expansion of the Tribunal's activities. Its Judicial Department has responded to the increased workload of the Tribunal by providing the management necessary to operate three courtrooms on a full-time basis, assigning defence counsel to indigent accused, supervising the Detention Unit and maintaining diplomatic relations with States. The Administrative Department of the Registry has overseen the growth of the infrastructure of the Tribunal.

The Tribunal notes increasing cooperation and compliance from States and international and multinational bodies. A number of States have begun to provide increased logistical and financial assistance to the Tribunal and to implement the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Surrenders of indicted individuals from the Republic of Croatia and the Republika Srpska testify to that. Of particular note is the change in attitude of the Republika Srpska, which is beginning to demonstrate willingness to work with the Tribunal. The relationship with the Office of the High Representative and the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) have proven productive in ensuring cooperation and execution of orders and arrest warrants issued by the Tribunal.

However, much still remains to be done by the States and entities of the former Yugoslavia. Thirty-one indictees remain at liberty, most of whom are believed to be on the territory of the Republika Srpska or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In addition to its refusal to cooperate in the arrest and surrender of indictees, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continues to cite national legislation as a bar to the transfer of indicted persons to the custody of the Tribunal and fails to provide access to evidence under its control. Other States also continue to ignore their legal responsibility to bring their domestic laws into conformity with their obligations towards the Tribunal, as required by Security Council resolution 827 (1993).

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Situation in Central America

The Assembly will also continue its consideration of the reports of the Secretary-General on the situation in Central America (document A/53/315), the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) (documents A/53/288 and A/53/421 and Corr.1). Also before the Assembly are draft resolutions on the situation in Central America (documents A/53/L.20 and A/53/L.22/Rev.2) which it is expected to take action on. (For background information on this issue, see Press Release GA/9506, issued on 18 November.)

By the terms of the draft (document A/53/L.20) the Assembly would underscore the importance of further complying with the commitments set out in the peace agreements, particularly issues identified as priorities, namely, the need to increase fiscal resources for the consolidation of the peace process, and to address the areas of land and justice. It would call upon the parties to implement the commitments they entered into in the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and those in the other peace agreements, in particular those contained in the Third Phase of the implementation Compliance and Verification Timetable for the Peace Agreement (1998-2000).

The Assembly would urge the parties and all sectors of Guatemalan society to remain committed to the goals of the peace agreements, and to strengthen further efforts towards consensus-building, reconciliation and development, with particular attention to the most vulnerable sectors of society. The Assembly would also invite the international community to continue its support for peace-related activities in Guatemala through voluntary contributions to the trust fund for the Guatemala peace process established by the Secretary-General. It would also decide to authorize the renewal of the mandate of the Mission from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 1999.

The draft is co-sponsored by Colombia, Mexico, Norway, Spain, United States, Venezuela, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Russian Federation, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

By the terms of the draft (document A/53/L.22/Rev.2) the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, the United Nations system and the international community to continue to support and verify the implementation of all peace agreements signed under the Organization's auspices in Guatemala. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to continue to support the initiatives and activities of Central American governments, particularly efforts to consolidate peace and democracy through the implementation of a new, comprehensive sustainable development programme and the initiative to establish the Central American Union.

The Assembly would emphasize the importance of the global frame of reference and the establishment of national and regional development priorities as a basis for promoting the effective, consistent and sustainable

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progress of the Central American peoples, and for providing international cooperation in accordance with the new circumstances in and outside the region.

The Assembly would also encourage Central American governments to continue to carry out their responsibilities by fully implementing the commitments assumed under national, regional or international agreements. It would also appeal to all Member States, the United Nations system, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and other major actors in international civil society, to provide cooperation, assistance and emergency aid in the rehabilitation and construction of the countries affected by the hurricane.

Co-sponsoring the draft are: Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

World Summit for Social Development

By the terms of the draft (document A/53/L.34) on implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, the Assembly would reaffirm the commitments adopted by heads of State and government at the Social Summit convened in Copenhagen in 1995, contained in the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action, and their pledge to give the highest priority to national, regional and international policies and actions for the promotion of social progress, social justice, the betterment of the human condition and social integration. It would emphasize the urgency of placing the goals of social development as contained in the Declaration and Programme of Action at the centre of economic policy.

Recalling the Assembly decision to hold a special session in 2000 for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the Summit and to consider further action and initiatives, the Assembly would decide to hold the special session from 26 to 30 June in Geneva. Noting the Preparatory Committee's decision to hold its first substantive session in New York from 17 to 28 May 1999 and its second in New York from 3 to 14 April 2000, the Assembly would decide that the Preparatory Committee for the special session should establish an in-session open-ended working group during the second week of its first substantive session to facilitate consultations on organizational matters related to the special session.

The Assembly would urge the continued involvement and support by the regional commissions in the promotion of the implementation of the Summit's objectives at the regional and subregional levels. It would reiterate its invitation to the commissions, in accordance with their mandates and in

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cooperation with the regional intergovernmental organizations and banks, to continue to convene on a biennial basis meetings at a high political level to review the progress made towards implementing the Summit's outcome, to exchange views, to identify and share best practices and lessons learned and to identify additional initiatives to strengthen implementation.

Further, the Assembly would call on all governments and the United Nations system to promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective and to use gender analysis as a tool for the integration of a gender dimension into the planning and implementation of policies, strategies and programmes on social development. It would also call on all countries to develop economic policies that promote and mobilize domestic savings and attract external resources for productive investment and to seek innovative sources of funding, both public and private, for social programmes, while ensuring their effective utilization, and in the budgetary process, to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of public resources and to give priority to providing and improving basic social services.

Also, the Assembly would call on the international community, including international financial institutions, to implement fully and effectively all initiatives that will contribute to a durable solution to the debt problems of developing countries, in particular African countries and the least developed countries, and thus to support their efforts to achieve social development and, in this context, reaffirms the need to make further progress towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Summit by the Bretton Woods institutions, including the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative.

The draft is sponsored by: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

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Statements on Yugoslav Tribunal

GABRIELLE KIRK McDONALD, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, introducing its annual report, said since its establishment in 1993 it had achieved extraordinary progress. More than 600 people were employed by the Tribunal, and its budget for 1998 totalled over $62 million. The past year marked the end of the "building-era" of the Tribunal. The first four years had been primarily devoted to the development of the infrastructure of the court. With the arrest or surrender of 19 people in the past year, the number of detainees of the Tribunal had tripled.

Concomitant with the growth of the Tribunal was the need for increased financial support, she said. To expedite judicial proceedings, two new courtrooms had been constructed and three new judges had been inaugurated for the new third trial chamber. The Tribunal was now engaged in an extraordinary amount of litigation activity.

The success of a number of actions by the Prosecutor's Office resulted in the seizure of a large volume of documentation, she continued. Considerable resources were needed to index, analyse and extract relevant evidence for investigations and prosecutions. Unexpected successes in both arrests and searches had led to an underestimation of the resources required to prepare the cases for trial and their prosecution. Due to the shortage of funds, the Prosecutor had been unable to expeditiously and efficiently fulfil her dual obligations under the Statute of the Tribunal. The President of the Tribunal requested the General Assembly to support the Prosecutor's bid for additional resources for 1999.

Because of the developing nature of international humanitarian law, its application required an extensive review of existing international and national law, she said. Legal support was needed for the third trial chamber just established by the Council and for the Tribunal as a whole. For that reason, she also asked for support for the Chambers' request for additional resources.

During the past year, some countries and entities had started to cooperate with the Tribunal, she said. The change of attitude of Republica Srpska was especially noticeable. In that new atmosphere of increased cooperation, the non-compliance of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was significant. It was disregarding, with impunity, its international obligations.

In March 1998, the Security Council had urged the Prosecutor of the Tribunal to start gathering information regarding Kosovo, she continued. In September, it had found that events in Kosovo constituted a threat to peace and security in the region. In October, the Council adopted resolution 1203, which called for prompt and complete investigation of all atrocities committed in Kosovo. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was directly challenging the

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authority of the Security Council, and she called upon that body to state unequivocally that such action would not be countenanced, for it threatened to undermine everything that the United Nations stood for. It was necessary to ensure that no State would be permitted to violate its obligations under international law.

The Tribunal was also a recognized and integral part of the peace process in the former Yugoslavia, she said. In an effort to bring a greater understanding of the Tribunal to the people of the area, last month it invited judges, lawyers, prosecutors and professors from the States and entities of the former Yugoslavia to The Hague. The Tribunal intended to build upon that effort and establish continuous dialogue regarding the important role of the Tribunal.

Without independent enforcement power to bring about compliance, the Tribunal could not accomplish its mission to help establish and maintain international peace and security in the region without unequivocal support of the international community, she said. Its accomplishments to date could be overshadowed by the precedent that would be set if one State was permitted to ignore its internationally imposed obligations. Ignoring the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's non-compliance, which had escalated into blatant obstructionism, encouraged other States to do likewise, inflicting a devastating blow to international law. If the Tribunal did not succeed, it would be because the world community had failed the Tribunal.

ERNST SUCHARIPA (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that at the end of its fifth year the proper functioning of the Tribunal was crucial for the full implementation of the peace accords in the former Yugoslavia. The unprecedented growth of the Tribunal over the past year had demonstrated that international criminal justice was an achievable goal. It would provide, along with its sister institution in Rwanda, a valuable source for the establishment of procedures making the international prosecution and punishment of violators of humanitarian law possible. He underlined the importance of appropriate access of victims to the Tribunal and of their protection.

Lack of cooperation by authorities in issuing arrest warrants requested by the Tribunal was clearly a violation of their mandatory obligations under international law and must not be tolerated, he continued. To do its job impartially, the Tribunal must be totally independent of any political authority. He stressed the need for unstinting cooperation by all States and all parties with the Tribunal to enable it to function satisfactorily. That cooperation extended not only to executing the Tribunal's arrest warrants, but also facilitating its investigative activity. The European Union was deeply concerned about the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Government's decision not to allow investigations in Kosovo, which had been communicated to its authorities. He called on the Belgrade authorities to enable the Tribunal to carry out its mandate.

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OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said his country endorsed a role for the Tribunal in investigating and prosecuting international crimes perpetrated in connection with the tragic situation in Kosovo. In that connection, Norway was deeply disturbed by the near-total non-compliance by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with regard to the Tribunal and welcomed the fact that the Security Council had addressed the matter in its resolution 1207 (1998). While acknowledging the achievements of the Tribunal, it was a fact that the main perpetrators of atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia still enjoyed their freedom. The international community must not waver in its long-term commitment to the fulfilment of the Tribunal's mandate.

Norway remained a strong supporter of the Tribunal, and joined those that had appealed to States to take all the necessary legislative steps under domestic law to ensure effective State cooperation with the Tribunal, he said. In addition to implementing legislation and ensuring compliance with the Tribunal's requests for assistance, States must secure proper financial and material support. His Government had declared its willingness to consider applications from the Tribunal concerning the enforcement of sentences and, in conformity with its national laws, received a limited number of convicted persons to serve their sentence in Norway. He encouraged more States to prove their continued commitment to the Tribunal's work through concrete action.

IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said his country attached particular importance to the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal had a special part to play in achieving justice for the victims and lasting peace and stability in the region. The Tribunal would continue to have the support of his country, which considered the prosecution of war crimes to be a legal, political and moral duty. Indeed, it was his country that had sought the establishment of the Tribunal in 1991.

He welcomed the fact that the number of indicted persons in the custody of the Tribunal had increased threefold as significant and welcome progress. Nonetheless, there was less ground for optimism when one looked more closely at those in custody. Crimes had been committed by individuals and not by an ethnic group or a nation and every crime, no matter the perpetrator, must be examined individually.

Due to the magnitude of the crimes committed, time constraints and the scarcity of resources, he said the Tribunal could not prosecute all the perpetrators of war crimes. It had to adopt a selective approach for doing its work. In that situation, the cases brought before the Tribunal "must at least be representative", and reflect the level of involvement of the various sides to the war crimes committed. It could not be overlooked that, until now, nobody had been indicted for committing the well-documented crimes targeted specifically against Bosnian Croats. That deficiency seriously undermined the very objectives of the Tribunal: justice; a truthful account of what took place during the conflict; and ultimately, healing and reconciliation.

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He said Bosnian Croats and Muslims constituted the majority of the persons in the custody of the Tribunal, despite the fact that they belonged to ethnic groups that were predominantly the victims. That could be primarily attributed to the lack of cooperation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska authorities, and to the lack of determination of the Security Council to support the Tribunal it had created by means of enforcement measures. Croatia could not accept the fact that those indicted for the crimes committed in the eastern city of Vukovar seven years ago remained beyond the reach of the Tribunal. The process of reconciliation in that area hinged upon bringing them to justice. The same could be said in respect of Milan Martic, who had styled himself as leader of Croatian Serbs; Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb leader; and Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb military commander; among others.

He said the responsibility for the failure to accurately reflect the picture of war crimes was not that of the Tribunal alone. It also rested with the Security Council. In that respect, the Council's adoption on 17 November of resolution 1207 (1998), by which it, acting under chapter VII, condemned the failure of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to execute arrest warrants issued by the Tribunal was encouraging. He hoped that reflected the new commitment of the Council to protect the authority and credibility of the Tribunal, and of the Council itself.

Concluding, he said he wished to clarify an issue raised in paragraphs 128 and 129 of the Tribunal's report. His Government wished to reiterate that the so-called "rules of the road" referred to in those paragraphs applied exclusively to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a matter for a sovereign State to accept or not the screening of cases by an international authority as a prerequisite for conducting prosecutions in its own national courts. Although his country respected the decision of Bosnia and Herzegovina to allow such a screening process, it would not itself accept that arrangement.

MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said he was grateful to the Tribunal's judges for their efforts carried out under such difficult circumstances. The Assembly had to address the problems of logistical and financial support for the Tribunal, and questions about the link between the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals. Resources for the Tribunal had to be increased, especially since the third trial chamber had been added. Member States needed to support the Tribunal's budget and thereby strengthen its work. Egypt appealed to all Member States to make voluntary contributions, and promised it would provide the necessary support to ensure the Tribunal's success. His county regretted that some of the entities of the former Yugoslavia were not cooperating with the Tribunal. By not arresting the accused, those entities had obstructed the Tribunal's work.

Further, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had not taken the necessary steps in their domestic legislation required for cooperation with the

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Tribunal, he said. That constituted defiance and could also threaten international peace and security, which might require the intervention of the Security Council. The Council might need to exert pressure on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to get them to arrest the criminals. Cooperation with the Tribunal was integral to peace in the Balkans.

PHAKISO MOCHOCHOKO (Lesotho) said, upon consideration of the report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, significant progress had been made despite the fact that sceptics, five years ago, had declared that the Tribunal would never "see the light of day". Indeed, the pioneering Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda had demonstrated that the international community's resolve to build worthy institutions to dispense international criminal justice remained unshaken.

He said that among the notable successes highlighted by the report were the increase in the Tribunal's trial and pre-trial activities; the increased and improved investigation and prosecution procedures; and the construction of two additional courtrooms. The state of the Tribunal could now dispel concerns that international criminal justice would never be achieved. An issue of critical importance to its permanence, however, depended on the cooperation of States. The cooperation of the States of the former Yugoslavia was particularly crucial.

Unfortunately, he said that some of the most important architects of the mass killings of innocent civilians, although indicted by the Tribunal, still controlled regional political and military forces. Particularly reprehensible was the failure of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to transfer three well-known indictees to the Tribunal. The time had come for the international community, through the Security Council, to force compliance and to arrest all remaining indictees. In addition to the Security Council resolution 1082 (1998) of 17 November, condemning those failures and reiterating its call for that Government's full cooperation, the Council should ensure that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could not continue to shelter fugitives. In addition, States must treat seriously the repeated call for them to bring their domestic legislation in line with their Tribunal obligations.

YESIM BAYKAL (Turkey) said, although the Dayton peace agreement had brought peace and ended human suffering in the former Yugoslavia, justice still had not prevailed fully. The successful functioning of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was imperative for the establishment of lasting peace.

The Tribunal had made a significant progress in fulfilling its mandate, she said. Continued progress depended on the cooperation of States and entities that were within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. The workload of the Tribunal had increased dramatically this year. The Security Council, by its resolution 1160 (1998) of 31 March, had requested the Prosecutor to begin gathering information regarding the violence in Kosovo that might fall under

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the Tribunal's jurisdiction. Her Government hoped that the perpetrators of those violent acts would be brought to justice speedily.

Against that background, her country supported the main thrust of the recently adopted Security Council resolution 1207 (1998), which deplored the continued failure of cooperation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Her Government would have preferred a more strongly worded resolution demanding the compliance of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in accordance with the terms of the Dayton peace agreement. Those military and political leaders who had been indicted and yet remained at large must be apprehended, she continued. In that light, the Tribunal, despite its numerous accomplishments, remained a partial failure. It was most disappointing that the military and political leaders responsible for the grave violations of humanitarian law and the acts of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina remained free.

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said the Tribunal had developed into a driving force for the development of international humanitarian law and law in the field of human rights. The existence of the Tribunal had given a boost to the negotiations leading to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. His country wanted to reaffirm its view that the special tribunals established by the Security Council should not be limited to the emergency situations. The truth should be brought to light and offenders should be punished, for impunity undermined the process of peace-building.

Lack of cooperation on the part of some governments and entities should be absolutely rejected by the international community, he continued. It was vital that the authorities of the Republica Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia perform their international obligations and extradite, without excuses, the accused from their territory. There was also a vital need for those authorities to cooperate with gathering of information necessary. The existence of The Hague Tribunal did not exempt local authorities from prosecuting the guilty.

The administrative and financial situation of the Tribunal demanded more resources and more staff, he said. Greater effort should be made to provide sufficient resources to guarantee prompt justice. He also reaffirmed his country's support for the Tribunal, whose work was an example of great dedication to the cause of peace and combating impunity.

RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said that the Tribunal's work would contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia. The persistent and continuing rejection of Tribunal orders by certain parties, principally the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to arrest indicted war criminals residing in its territory should not be tolerated any further. Such a blatant attitude of non-compliance and obstruction on the part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia clearly undermined international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions. Malaysia was also concerned over the fact that two major indictees, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic had remained

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at large, despite having been indicted twice and served with international arrest warrants. Malaysia called on those concerned to exert every effort to ensure that they were brought to justice.

Malaysia hoped that SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina would continue to play its crucial role in assisting the Tribunal to carry out its mandate, he said. The SFOR, the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) and the Tribunal should cooperate in achieving their common objective of restoring peace and security, and serving the cause of justice in the region. The Tribunal should also be in a position to investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo. Therefore, Malaysia welcomed the Council's decision to authorize the Tribunal to carry out such investigations on cases that fell under its jurisdiction.

SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) noted the progress of the Tribunal and commended the President and the staff of the Tribunal for their efforts. The prospect for enabling the Prosecutor to return to the past level of investigative activities recently scaled down due to redeployment of staff from investigation to trial preparation was welcomed. The Prosecutor's decision to investigate violence in Kosovo was momentous. The Tribunal was vested with the territorial and temporal jurisdiction over such crimes committed in Kosovo. His country was convinced that active investigations by the Tribunal would contribute to preventing further aggravation of violent incidents in Kosovo.

MUHAMMAD NAJM AKBAR (Pakistan) said, in a continuing challenge to the conscience of mankind, 31 accused still remained at large, including the horrendous perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had refused to arrest and transfer to the Tribunal's custody three persons indicted for the murder of 160 unarmed men, following the fall of Vukovar in November 1991. It was the only signatory to the Dayton agreements that had neither adopted legislation to facilitate cooperation nor taken steps to transfer indictees. The announcement by its President that it had become a haven for fugitives from international law was a further affront to the international community. In that connection, Pakistan looked forward to the early implementation of yesterday's Security Council resolution.

He noted that the Tribunal had also persistently affirmed its territorial and temporal jurisdiction over serious violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo, and the Council had reinforced the Tribunal's role in that regard. He fully shared the Tribunal's disappointment at the hurdles in implementing the Council's mandate regarding Kosovo. Indeed, the systematic genocide of the ethnic Albanians by Serb occupation forces in Kosovo was a flagrant violation of human rights and Security Council resolutions. The brutal suppression of the civilian population by the Serb forces also posed a serious threat to regional peace and security. Effective steps were needed to end the repressive measures against ethnic Albanians.

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Under Chapter VII, the Council had reiterated its call upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate fully with the prosecutor in the investigation of all possible violations within the Tribunal's jurisdiction, he said. The Tribunal's earlier letters to the Council, however, indicated that such a step might not be enough. It remained to be seen whether Security Council resolution 1207 (1998) alone would be able to modify that Government's behaviour with regard to the Tribunal. The Council was therefore urged to ensure full compliance of its resolution in order to enable the Tribunal to undertake investigation in the area of Kosovo.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said although the Tribunal had flourished, it still faced certain problems: 31 indictees had not yet been arrested, due to non-compliance on the part of certain States and entities. For the same reasons, the Tribunal was not in a position to gather and examine the evidence vital for its proceedings.

Continuing, he welcomed the adoption of the Security Council resolution 1207 (1998) demanding immediate and unconditional arrest and transfer by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of the three indictees to the custody of the Tribunal. His Government continued to support the work of the Tribunal and was prepared to fully cooperate with it. All nations must adopt measures to enable the Tribunal to fulfil its mission. It was also essential that the United Nations continued to support the Tribunal politically, financially and logistically. It must also ensure that demand for international justice prevailed over the interests of a few States.

MUHAMED SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that unfortunately the failures to comply with the Tribunal's orders sounded all too familiar and came from the same sources. The bottom line was that the major culprits for genocide and war crimes remained free; a fact which continued to impede the work of peace and reconciliation.

The States and parties in the region, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina, sincerely believed that the success of peace depended on themselves, he said. Nonetheless, how could such lectures be understood when no distinction was made between those in the region committed to peace, versus those States and parties that undermined the efforts? How were the opponents of peace to understand when those who failed to comply with the Tribunal were appeased rather than sanctioned? he asked.

No significant price had been paid for recalcitrant behaviour by rogue States and entities, he said. Clearly, something was not right. The Tribunal, or perhaps more appropriately the Security Council and some of its most powerful members, had not demonstrated the will to carry out their responsibilities to the Tribunal, to the Assembly and to the victims and people of Bosnia and the region.

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The international community knew who had created the problems, he said. It had also witnessed the failure to comply in Kosovo. His delegation requested only that the international community respond positively to Judge McDonald and the Tribunal's appeals for assistance in terms of resources and in executing arrest warrants, particularly on the part of the Security Council and the forces on the ground mandated to carry out such steps.

Social Development Summit

JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) introduced the draft on the implementation of the outcome of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. Australia, Bahamas, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Malta, Micronesia, Niger and Tunisia had joined as co-sponsors. He reaffirmed Chile's commitment to the implementation of the outcome of the Summit and hoped that the Assembly, as in previous years, would adopt the draft by consensus.

The Assembly adopted the resolution, without a vote.

Central America

A.A. ANOPUECHI (Nigeria) said his country had taken measures to achieve reconciliation and understanding within its borders, and to support peace, reconciliation and stabilization in certain areas of West Africa. Therefore, Nigeria appreciated the noble motives that had inspired today's agenda item.

The national and regional agreements in Central America would not be worth the paper on which they were written without the requisite resolve of affected nations and peoples to carry out their commitments. The peoples of El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua needed to demonstrate the will to embark on the way of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. It was his country's ardent wish to see the region move away from conflict and wars, towards a time of well-being when its peoples would benefit from science, technology, education, advances in health care and democratic norms. His delegation wanted to be associated with the draft resolution on the situation in Central America and urged the Assembly to adopt it without a vote.

EILEEN HEAPHY (United States) said the United States would provide approximately $250 million of emergency relief goods and services to disaster recovery efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Mitch. The First Lady of the United States who was currently in the region had announced a significant increase in food aid, $17 million in grants and loans to put micro- entrepreneurs back on their feet; and debt relief of up to $50 million for Nicaragua and Honduras through the year 2000.

Beyond official aid, she said, private United States citizens had also reached out to their stricken neighbours. Over $5 million of relief supplies had been donated and a number of former Peace Corps volunteers had offered to return to Central America to contribute critical skills to the rebuilding

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effort. Despite the terrible destruction caused by the hurricane, the United States was confident that the nations of Central America would remain firmly on the path of peace, freedom, democracy and development.

JOSE EDUARDO FELICIO (Brazil) said Brazil supported the draft extending the United Nations Mission in Guatemala and suggested that it be prolonged until the year 2000, at the request of the parties, to correspond with that of the implementation, compliance and verification timetable. The most recent report of MINUGUA said that progress had been made in Guatemala towards pluralism, noting an increase in the participation of indigenous people and the most vulnerable groups in society. That made MINUGUA an exemplary model for peace and protection against impunity and back-sliding rights. It was clear that the Assembly was capable of performing and supervising such an operation. He called for support of the draft, noting the importance his Government placed on the peace process and the Presidential elections in Guatemala, to be held in November of 1999.

Brazil also called on the international community to provide emergency assistance and reconstruction aid to rebuild the countries affected by the hurricane, he said. His country was trying to convert its assistance into tangible help, such as relieving some of the debt burden of Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Brazilian Parliament would also consider cancelling the debt burden of those two countries. It was equally preparing a reconnaissance mission of engineers and medicines to the devastated areas.

YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) said his country was actively participating in international relief assistance efforts in Central America and had already extended immediate emergency relief assistance. Japan has also dispatched disaster relief teams numbering 200 to Honduras and 16 to Nicaragua. As one of the top donors to the region, Japan would continue to play an active role in implementing measures to support reconstruction and recovery efforts in Central America.

Addressing the situation in Guatemala, he said further improvements must be made in the areas of human rights, public security and juridical practices. There were also reasons to be concerned regarding El Salvador, he said, citing the delay in the implementation of the human settlement programme for ex-combatants due to difficulties in the processing of land purchases and registrations. Japan believed that mutual cooperation among the countries of the Central American region greatly facilitated their respective efforts to promote sustainable development. In the belief that international cooperation was also necessary, Japan continued to support the efforts of those countries to pursue that development in peace and freedom.

JORGE PEREZ OTERMIN (Uruguay) said that 15 years had passed since the Assembly first took up this item. Since then, real changes in the region had been witnessed. A dynamic and positive transformation in Latin America had resulted in a region free from armed conflict. He was pleased with the level

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of cooperation and integration shown by his Central American brothers, reflected in the 1997 Nicaragua Declaration. The positive and dynamic changes were the result of the efforts of the people and governments of that region.

He appreciated the role played by peacekeeping troops, monitors and observers in the region, he said. Uruguay was active in peacekeeping operations and supported the activities of MINUGUA, whose main role was implementing the peace agreements during a four-year period expiring in the year 2000. Its presence in Guatemala was a great example of what the United Nations could be today. At last, peace and stability could prevail in all of Latin America. The international community had to continue its support to ensure the consolidation of peace.

Hurricane Mitch made that support even more vital, he said. Since there could be no peace without development, cooperation under the present circumstances was even more necessary. Uruguay, for its part, had extended assistance, demonstrating its solidarity to help its Central American brothers face their challenges.

MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso), speaking on behalf of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said that the examination of the Central American agenda was very timely, in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. In light of the Secretary- General's exhaustive report, he reiterated Africa's closeness to those affected countries and sympathized with the suffering of their people. As a land prone to natural disasters, Africa could well understand the terrible drama and distress experienced by Central Americans. It was the duty of the international community to support those countries.

He said that while the Secretary-General's report was very encouraging and showed convincing results, the situation was still frail. More than in the past, those countries needed peace and national mobilization in order to reconstruct. The United Nations had greatly assisted those countries through peacekeeping, verification and observer missions. Democratic culture was taking stronger root through the enhancement of human rights and the emergence of political pluralism. Economically, the United Nations had stepped up its assistance to Central America, primarily through the European Union, Bretton Woods institutions and others. The Central American countries, themselves, were rationalizing their economies. The free-trade agreement concluded in Mexico was one example.

Africa believed, however, that true salvation could come only from the Central American countries themselves, since external aid was only a temporary expedient, he said. They must have their own development strategy, which took into account the singularity and complexity of their problems. Moreover, deep political reforms and national reconciliation were also crucial elements towards evolving development. Africa, for its part, was ready to help Latin and Central America. Even in the case of certain fledgling economies, the African nations shared their development ideals, as well as their faith in the

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future. It wished to reinforce its solidarity and South-South cooperation, an asset which could be strengthened through greater concerted action between the Organization of American States and the OAU.

OSCAR R. DE ROJAS (Venezuela) said that while his Central American brothers were grieving over Hurricane Mitch, his country expressed its solidarity and support with those countries so that they could continue along the road of peace, democracy and development. For the first time in decades, not one of the countries in the region was plagued by internal conflict. Nevertheless, his delegation reiterated the importance of consolidating the efforts made towards peace, democracy and development in the region.

Welcoming increased regional cooperation in Central America, he noted the conference in July in El Salvador whereby the countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama, agreed to act as partners in trade, services and development. He also welcomed the dialogue between the regional governments and the European Union.

His country had followed closely the process of peace-building in Guatemala, he added. Although there was still some room for progress, he thought that the political will existed to further advance those goals. He said that MINUGUA was one point of departure for reconciliation and reconstruction in that country.

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said that the past year had seen progress in the process of consolidating peace, freedom, democracy and development in the Central American region. His country welcomed this progress and, in particular, achievements made in implementing the Guatemala Peace Agreements, signed under United Nations auspices.

He said that his country realized that money could not compensate for the tragedy of lost lives and shattered communities, but debt relief was an important step towards addressing the needs of those affected by the disaster. Canada had suspended repayment schedules for principal and interest of over $29.5 million (Canadian dollars) in official debt owed by Honduras. The Government of Canada would also work with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Paris Club of official creditors to assess what further debt-relief measures might be needed for hurricane-affected countries. He said he would also be consulting with the "Group of Seven" industrialized countries and other partners on a regular basis to review the situation.

Canada joined in appealing to all Member States, the United Nations system, other international institutions and major actors in international civil society to provide generously the assistance urgently needed by the countries affected by the hurricane. A strong response to this appeal would help to ensure that the gains made in the establishment of peace, freedom, democracy and development in Central America were maintained.

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RICARDO LUIS BOCALANDRO (Argentina) said that, because of the fallout from the cold war, Central America had been engulfed by conflicts and violence, leading to economic instability. The end of the cold war had opened the door to democracy. The signing of the Esquipulas II Agreement in 1987 started that trend. Further consolidation of peace would require the will of the people and governments of the region, and the support of the international community. Unfortunately, the world had witnessed the tragic circumstances of Central America due to the recent natural disaster. The situation in the region was critical. The destruction was such that it would take a long time to get back to the situation preceding the hurricane. It was urgent that all donor countries redouble efforts to help the region. The international community must help the affected societies because the real danger was that the progress made would simply come to an end.

Argentina, for its part, had contributed a number of "White Helmets" volunteers and health supplies, he said. It would do everything it could to help the region recover. Central America had always been an area of interest in Argentina's foreign policy and it had always supported Central American initiatives. The Secretary-General's report said that Central America would become a model of peace and Argentina would join those countries in the spirit of fraternal solidarity.

FRANCISCO J. RABENA (Spain) said he welcomed the Secretary-General's report and the recent agreements on constitutional reforms in Guatemala. Spain had every confidence that the parties would maintain this commitments to implementing the peace agreement. In that context, MINUGUA's work was effective and necessary. He trusted that there would be an unanimous adoption of draft resolution, which provided for an extension of MINUGUA's mandate till 31 December 1999. In regard to the human tragedy which took place due to Hurricane Mitch, he extended Spain's solidarity to the affected people. Spain was firmly committed to reconstruction efforts. The devastation caused would have long-term political and economic effects.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that the hurricane's devastating effects required a major effort to rebuild the area.

The peace process in Guatemala was moving along towards a lasting peace, as some obstacles had been overcome, he said. Colombia was a part of the group of friends that supported that process. Implementation of the peace agreements included difficult reforms which were being carried out. The upcoming referendum would further the peace process. The MINUGUA's presence and participation had made a major contribution. As the peace process was entering its third phase, the international community must continue supporting it. Colombia co-sponsored the draft extending the Guatemalan mission to 31 December 1999.

Before adjourning the meeting, the Acting President of the Assembly, IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal), informed Members that action on two draft resolutions on Central America would be taken at a later date.

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For information media. Not an official record.