|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
24th & 25th Meetings (AM & PM)
ADDRESSING GENERAL ASSEMBLY, PRESIDENTS OF TRIBUNALS FOR RWANDA, FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
APPEAL FOR TIME TO WRAP UP PENDING CASES, COOPERATION ON OUTSTANDING FUGITIVES
Assembly also Wraps up Consideration of Second Annual
Reports of Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund
With fugitives still at large and trials pending for key officials accused of crimes in cases arising from, respectively, the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the Presidents of the United Nations courts established to address–-and redress--such matters told the General Assembly today that they needed more time to complete their proceedings.
Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Fausto Pocar, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, urged the Assembly to support efforts to apprehend the remaining fugitives, and provide the Tribunals with the resources neededed to retain staff and efficiently fulfil their Security Council-mandated completion strategies.
Mr. Byron, presenting the Rwanda Tribunal’s thirteenth annual report, said both Tribunals had been “modern pioneers” of a credible international criminal justice system, having produced a substantial body of jurisprudence, including definitions of elements of the crime of genocide. The Arusha-based Rwandan court had “established an important, judicially verified, factual record of the grave violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda in 1994”, he said. Its referral of cases to national jurisdictions had influenced Rwanda’s reform process, which resulted in the abolition of the death penalty.
For its part, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had brought charges against 161 individuals and completed proceedings against 116 of them, Mr. Pocar said, presenting the Tribunal’s fifteenth annual report. The recent arrests of Stojan Župljanin and Radovan Karadžić were “particularly important milestones”, but the Tribunal could not successfully accomplish its work if the last two remaining fugitives--Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić--were not arrested immediately. While the Tribunal, based in The Hague, would ensure that the trials of recently arrested accused would start in 2009, the arrests of the remaining fugitives would push back its target date for completion of all trials.
When delegations took the floor, the representative of Croatia agreed, and hoped to see an early beginning of the trials for Karadžić and Župljanin. Without bringing to justice those most responsible for crimes committed in the wars against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Tribunal could not complete its mandate. He could not accept that their impunity, along with that for Mladić and Goran, would outlive the Tribunal’s existence. In addition, the appeals proceedings in the case of the so-called “Vukovar three” were still ongoing, and he hoped they would bring about a just judgement. “Individual criminal responsibility is not an obstacle but a catalyst to reconciliation”, he declared.
Serbia’s representative said his country was fully committed to honouring its international obligations, and in May 2008 had adopted a framework for future cooperation with the Tribunal. In compliance with its provisions, two of the most wanted remaining fugitives, Župljanin and Karadžić, had been arrested by Serbian authorities and transferred to the detention unit of the Tribunal in June and July 2008. The basic precondition for fulfilling the completion strategy was the capacity of domestic courts to process cases they had received according to international legal standards.
Challenges remained, he said, and to overcome them, the issue of witness protection was crucial. Interference with witnesses, particularly in the form of witness intimidation, and their growing failure to appear voluntarily to testify, was a grave concern. Serbia was very concerned by the inability--even flat refusal--of some countries and organizations to provide witness protection and prevent the disappearance of potential witnesses. He called for international cooperation to redress the situation.
Rwanda’s representative said that since May, the Prosecutor had filed five requests for transfer of cases to Rwanda for trial, and those applications were pending before five different Tribunal benches. Rwanda had discharged its duty to file submissions before the referral chambers. Yet despite such efforts, he was “seriously concerned” that the case referral process could undermine the trust Rwanda had “painstakingly” built. That trust had helped certain Governments apprehend fugitives found in their respective territories.
“We must be judged on the basis of our conduct and policies, not on the basis of presumed future misconduct,” he said. It was crucial to find an amicable conclusion to the ad hoc mandate of the Tribunal, and he called for a long-term mechanism between Member States and his Government, under which key issues were addressed, including the transfer and trial of all remaining cases.
In other business today, the Assembly concluded its consideration of the second annual reports of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund.
In addition, the Assembly, acting on the recommendations of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), adopted a resolution by which it agreed that the failure of the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Tajikistan to pay the full minimum amount necessary to avoid the application of Article 19 of the Charter was due to conditions beyond their control. Those countries would be permitted to vote until the end of the Assembly’s sixty-third session. [Under Article 19, Member States lose their right to vote in the General Assembly if the amount of their arrears to the Organization equals or exceeds their dues for two full preceding years].
Also speaking on the reports of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia was the Solicitor General of Kenya.
The representatives of France (on behalf of the European Union), New Zealand, Norway, Kenya, Russian Federation and South Africa also spoke.
Speaking on the reports of the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund were the representatives of Chile, Australia, Austria, Benin, United States, Belgium, El Salvador, Uruguay, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Cameroon, and Guinea-Bissau.
A representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 15 October to consider the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the annual reports of the work of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Delegations were also expected to conclude their joint debate of the second annual reports of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. (Please see Press Release GA/10765.)
The Assembly had before it the report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/63/209-S/2008/514), which covers the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008. It states that the combined efforts of the Tribunal’s three organs –- Chambers, Prosecutor’s Office and Registry -– enabled the body to substantially comply with its Security Council-mandated completion strategy while upholding trial fairness and rights of the accused.
Drawdown had begun, and thus, the evidence phase of most trials would conclude in 2008 even if judgment writing in some cases would spill over into 2009. Further, the Karemera-related trial involving exceptional circumstances would continue and four cases were earmarked for transfer to domestic jurisdiction. In addition, the recent arrest of three high-level accused had called for an adjustment in the completion strategy. The additional workload is expected to be completed in the next year.
Overall, the report states that three trial judgments concerning three accused were delivered during the period under review. Three detainees were awaiting trial. Three of the five Prosecutor’s requests for referral to Rwanda were denied and two were pending. Three judgments concerning five accused were rendered by the Appeals Chamber, bringing to 25 the total number of persons whose judgments were completed at the appellate level. The Prosecutor’s Office remains focused on securing the arrest of remaining fugitives, seeking referral of cases to Rwanda and providing assistance in Rwandan trial proceedings.
Remarkable progress in trial proceedings was made over the last 12 months, the report concludes. Two permanent judges assigned to the Trial Chambers and one ad litem judge will finish their assigned cases and resign by the end of 2008, with no replacements expected. And while the Tribunal was smoothly incorporating the additional workload caused by the three recent arrests and the revocation of transfer of a case, the unforeseen developments necessitated an adjustment of the terms of office of some judges.
The report notes that the international community must, among other things, provide the needed resources; assist in the arrest and transfer of 13 remaining fugitives and in resettling acquitted individuals and those who had served sentences; remain open to discussions concerning transfer of cases to other jurisdictions; and facilitate the travel of witnesses, particularly where witnesses did not have required travel documents.
The fourteenth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/63/210-S/2007/515), also before the Assembly, covers the period from 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008. During that time the Tribunal continued to adopt measures aimed at increasing the efficiency of trial and appeal proceedings. For the first time, eight trials were conducted simultaneously in the Tribunal’s three Trial Chambers. To date the Tribunal has concluded proceedings against 114 accused out of 161 indicted. During the reporting period, the Trial Chambers rendered 213 decisions in pre-trial matters and five judgments, among other thing. The Appeals Chamber issued 123 decisions on various issues.
The report states Serge Brammertz was appointed Prosecutor in January 2008, replacing Carla Del Ponte. He concentrated his efforts during the period on securing the arrest of the remaining fugitives. Stojan Župljanin and Radovan Karadžić were arrested and transferred to the seat of the Tribunal this past June and July, respectively. The failure to arrest the two remaining fugitives –- Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić –- “remains of grave concern to the Tribunal”.
Further, the report states that that the Tribunal demonstrated unwavering commitment to meeting the completion strategy targets without sacrificing due process. Proceedings focused on the most senior-level indictees, as low and mid-level accused have been referred to the courts of the region. The Tribunal hosted a number of working visits and training programmes for courts in the region in order to ensure the preservation of its legacy through the prosecution of war crimes by domestic courts. It also is compiling a manual of its best practices. The Registrar assisted in the identification of residual issues, including possible residual mechanisms.
Introduction of Reports
DENNIS BYRON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, presenting the Tribunal’s thirteenth annual report, said the body’s mandate had allowed it to contribute to the process of national reconciliation, and the restoration of peace in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. He found it remarkable that such a political objective could best be achieved through a judicial process. However success was measured, there could be no doubt that peace had been restored in Rwanda. The Tribunal had been a stabilizing factor that had made major and lasting contributions to the establishment of international justice and peace.
“In a nutshell, the Tribunal has established an important, judicially verified, factual record of the grave violations of international humanitarian law committed in 1994 in Rwanda”, the importance of which should not be underestimated, he said. Indeed, the Tribunal and its twin sister, the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, had been the “modern pioneers” of a credible international criminal justice system, having produced a substantial body of jurisprudence, including definitions of elements of the crime of genocide.
The Tribunal’s jurisprudence was having an impact on national compliance with international obligations in the human rights sphere, he continued, noting that proceedings related to the referral of cases to national jurisdictions had influenced the reform process in Rwanda, which had resulted in the abolition of the death penalty.
The annual report, which covered the 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 period, reflected such achievements, he said. The Trials Chambers had issued more than 400 interlocutory and pre-trial decisions, and rendered judgements involving four accused. Two of five applications for transfer to national jurisdictions had been successfully referred. There were 13 accused awaiting judgement; trials involving 15 accused were in progress. The cases of four detainees, including one case of contempt, were at the pre-trial stage. By December 2009, he said, the Trial Chambers would need to deliver judgements against 34 to 38 accused persons, should the referral of the four cases to a national jurisdiction be denied.
The Appeals Chambers had delivered more than 80 interlocutory decisions and pre-appeal orders and decisions, and judgements concerning three individuals, he said. A total of 25 persons had had their appeals completed. The Office of the Prosecutor was “at full stretch” investigating evidence in cases before the Trial Chambers. Prosecutor Hassan Jallow continued to devote special efforts to secure the arrest of the remaining fugitives; two had been arrested during the reporting period, he said.
The Registry continued its efforts to retain competent staff, he said, but more was needed to address staff retention, and the Tribunal would continue to count on the Assembly’s support for that. He noted that the Office of the Registrar had continued to deploy “vigorous” diplomatic effort in view of the relocation of acquitted persons, and had carried out a range of public relations activities.
While the Tribunal had worked “assiduously” in compliance with its Security Council-mandated completion strategy, he called on States to take more active steps in apprehending the remaining fugitives. The inevitable result of such additional undertakings would be the need for more time to complete proceedings.
As the Tribunal’s planned workload was far higher than at any other period, it would require experienced staff, he said. The most important requirement for staff retention was the predictability of employment until the completion of its work, which was within the Assembly’s power to guarantee. Application was pending for approval of a supplementary budget, and rapid adoption of that budget would provide the required predictability for staff to successfully implement the completion strategy.
In closing, he said the Tribunal was preparing for the period following completion of its current trial work, and there was an ongoing effort to explore the scope of possible residual functions that would be required. It would be crucial to preserve the Tribunal’s legacy.
FAUSTO POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, presented the fifteenth Annual Report of the Tribunal. Since 2004, the success of the Tribunal’s work had been primarily assessed within the framework of the completion strategy endorsed by Security Council resolutions 1503 and 1534. He said the main goals were to ensure the role and accomplishments of the Tribunal would continue to inspire future generations in their struggle for justice.
He said the Tribunal had been a “resounding success” in many respects and had brought charges against 161 individuals and completed proceedings against 116 of them, issuing more than two-thirds of the entire body of international case law dealing with violations of international humanitarian law. In order to fulfil its mission and ensure that its achievements were not undermined, the Tribunal still needed the international community’s crucial support on several fronts: the means to complete its proceedings fairly and quickly; help in arresting the remaining fugitives; and additional assistance provided to domestic partners in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
He said the Tribunal had maintained and even improved its efficiency over the past year, and proceedings had been started for all of the 44 remaining individuals indicted by the Office of the Prosecutor, except for the two remaining fugitives. Twenty-two individual were currently on trial, six were currently awaiting the delivery of their trail judgement, 11 were on appeal and five were expecting the imminent start of their trials, including four who were arrested in recent months.
During the reporting period, the Trial Chambers issued 213 decisions on pre-trial matters in eight cases, heard five contempt cases and delivered five trial judgments. Since last October, the Appeals Chamber issued 169 decisions comprising 10 appeals from judgements, 43 interlocutory appeals, 90 pre-appeal decisions and 26 review, reconsideration or other decisions, he added.
Turning to the arrest of the remaining fugitives, he said the arrest of Stojan Župljanin and Radovan Karadžić were particularly important milestones, and he commended the Government of Serbia for its critical cooperation. But the Tribunal could not successfully accomplish its work if the last two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, were not arrested immediately. The late arrests of fugitives, for which the international community needed to take responsibility, would inevitably lead to delays in the timetable for completion. While the Tribunal would ensure that the trials of the four recently arrested accused would start in 2009, the arrests of the remaining fugitives would push back its target date for completion of all trials.
He then referred to the legacy that the Tribunal would leave for international and domestic courts in the conduct of complex criminal cases dealing with serious violations of international humanitarian law and the continuation of its missions by judicial institutions in the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal was never intended to indefinitely serve as a substitute for national courts, particularly in the region of the former Yugoslavia. The strategy for the future must not only include the completion of cases on the docket, but secure local actors’ continuation of its mission to fight impunity.
The international community’s continued support of domestic institutions remained essential to guaranteeing the lasting establishment of the rule of law. He said cooperation between States in the region in the investigation and prosecution of alleged war criminals remained problematic. There were dire needs regarding the security of detention facilities, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as spotlighted by the escape from prison of Radovan Stanković.
Continuing, he said that the fact that a year and a half later that escapee had not yet been apprehend was regrettable. It was essential that the international community press the governments and local authorities to address that failure. He urged the international community to support an extension of the mandates of the international members of the State Court and Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He said the creation of the Tribunal in 1993 had heralded a new era in international judicial affairs and had led to the creation of many other international criminal justice institutions, which fought impunity and brought justice to victims of gross violations of international law. But the Tribunal’s work had had a deep impact on domestic judiciaries, particularly in the former Yugoslavia. He called on all Member States to assist the Tribunal in its commitment to seeing its work successfully through to the end, and to provide support to the judicial institutions in the former Yugoslavia.
Statements on International Crime Tribunals
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted the strides made by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, specifically with the arrests of Stojan Župljanin and Radovan Karadžić and the impending arrests of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. This work could not have been so successful without the dedication of all Tribunal staff, especially judges, prosecutors and registrars.
To ensure that justice continued to be served, he called for all States to improve their cooperation with the Rwanda Tribunal so that successful arrests of other fugitives, including Félicien Kabuga, could be made. Strengthening the Rwandan legal system and improving its ability to judge transferred cases from the Tribunal, goals that were essential to the completion of the Tribunals’ work, were also points of focus, and he stated the European Union’s full support to that end.
Observing that the Tribunals were never meant to be permanent, he reminded delegates that appropriate resources needed to be available to the bodies in order to fulfil their mandates in bringing high-level fugitives to an international court, as well as reach their completion strategies time limits set by the Security Council. Yet, he also stated that those time limits needed to be revised so that the trials of high-level fugitives, and the delicate work of deciding which cases to transfer to national courts, was not rushed.
The goal of dismantling the Tribunals would mark the accomplishment of those Courts and the success of international cooperation and collaboration to hold criminals responsible to their deeds and actions. Yet, in his conclusion he called for a preservation of the Tribunals system, maintained under United Nations’ jurisdiction, that could be resurrected when, in the future, fugitives who had successfully eluded the law thus far might be brought before an international court of law and tried accordingly. That would, he stated, not allow such fugitives to “count on impunity and on being forgotten”.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia (CANZ), said that both the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda had made -- and continued to make -- significant contributions towards fulfilling the international community’s shared goal of ending impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Reaffirming the three countries’ support for the two Tribunals, she pointed out that the jurisprudence of both bodies formed part of their legacy, and one which other international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, as well as national courts, would continue to draw on for years to come. By bringing to justice the perpetrators of those shocking crimes, the Tribunals had helped to strengthen the rule of law and promoted long-term stability and reconciliation in the Balkans and in Rwanda, thereby proving peace and justice could go hand in hand.
She said a key focus for both Tribunals now was the implementation of their completion strategies, with the arrest of the indictees who were still at large remaining crucial to that end. Further, CANZ was encouraged by the commitment of the Tribunals to implementation of their completion strategies, and welcomed the ongoing work on residual issues being done by both courts themselves and the Security Council Informal Working Group.
At the same time, her delegation also acknowledged the difficulty faced by both Tribunals in order to wind down their operations while still retaining sufficient staff capacity to deal with the remaining cases in a way that was consistent with due process. She also noted the additional workload on both Tribunals as a result of the recent arrests, and urged both to continue to identify further reforms that would enable them to complete their work as efficiently and as promptly as possible. She said that as the Tribunals approached the end of their mandates, the international community needed to reflect on how to address the issue of the prosecution of those subject to outstanding arrest warrants, adding that the main options included the referral and transfer to national jurisdictions, as well as the extension of the Tribunals’ mandates.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said the Tribunals had shown that international criminal justice was inseparable from United Nations values, and their jurisprudence had created an historical record. “Individual criminal responsibility is not an obstacle but a catalyst to reconciliation”, he said. Their mandates were drawing to an end, and it was important not to lose sight of the purpose for which they were established: to close the impunity gap.
On the work of the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia, he hoped to see an early beginning of the trials for Radovan Karadžić and Stojan Župljanin. Without bringing to justice those most responsible for crimes committed in the wars against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Tribunal could not complete its mandate. He could not accept that their impunity, along with that for Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, would outlive the Tribunal’s existence.
The appeals proceedings in the judgment rendered a year ago in the case of the so-called “Vukovar three” were still ongoing, and he hoped that they would bring about a just judgement. Just punishment must be a measure of respect for victims. By the same token, credible justice must not leave impunity gaps, and it was crucial that the Tribunal not close its doors before trying remaining fugitives.
Croatia’s judiciary had clearly shown its ability to conduct trials of even the most sensitive cases, including the case transferred to it by the Tribunal, he said. Croatia’s judiciary had developed an excellent working relationship with the Tribunal’s organs, and that relationship was of “vital importance”. Croatia was dedicated to assisting the Tribunal in completing its mandate at an early date, and over the years, had processed 804 requests for assistance from the Office of the Prosecutor.
The Government’s commitment to cooperate fully with the Tribunal remained strong, and he clarified, with respect to paragraph 79 of the Tribunal’s annual reports (A/63/210), that Croatian authorities continued to work on the pending issue, and expected to present results shortly. He found it difficult to justify the discrepancy existing between the practices of the Tribunals. While the former had concluded an agreement on the serving of sentences in Rwanda this year, the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia still did not allow for the possibility that sentences could be served in the country where the crime was committed.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) commended both Tribunals for their tremendous efforts to meet their completion strategies, amongst them, the work of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, which had successfully concluded, out of 161 indicted accused, 114 proceedings, and the Rwanda Tribunal, which had completed judgements for 36 accused and has six different cases in progress. The revision and extension of the terms of office for both permanent and ad litem judges would ensure this ongoing success. Moreover, financial commitments and assessed contributions from all States were essential to that end, and she called for those commitments to be honoured.
Echoing the findings in the Rwanda Tribunal report, she called for all States to fully support, without reservation, the work of the Tribunals. One such support effort would be fulfilling the obligation to arrest and transfer fugitives to the Tribunals in a timely manner. She heralded the arrest of Radovan Karadžić as an important step towards holding war criminals accountable and engendering the healing of wounds from “some of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since the Second World War, not least the Srebrenica massacre”. Yet, until the highest ranking indictees were brought to justice, the mission of the Tribunals would not be fulfilled, she stated, and noted her concern over the failure to arrest remaining fugitives.
In its commitment to the Tribunals’ work, Norway had entered into an agreement with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal regarding the enforcement of sentences, she said, urging more States to enter similar agreements. Norway had also continued strengthening and expanding its cooperative relationship to the Rwanda Tribunals as well.
The expansion of the Tribunals’ relationships and work with local judiciaries would also ensure the continuation of the Courts’ work and legacy of prosecuting war crimes and bringing to justice those responsible. Yet, in her conclusion, she reiterated that the support from all States to both Tribunals, in financial, materials, and practical assistances as well as ensuring witnesses to trial, was the vital component to its continued and critical mission.
PAVLE JEVREMOVIĆ ( Serbia) said his country was fully committed to honouring its international obligations, and in May 2008 had adopted a framework for future cooperation with the Tribunal. In compliance with its provisions, two of the most wanted remaining fugitives, Stojan Župljanin and Radovan Karadžić, had been arrested by Serbian authorities and transferred to the detention unit of the Tribunal in June and July 2008. In the reporting period, Serbia had also demonstrated its capacity to act during critical moments, such as by granting waivers to all persons requested by the Tribunal and providing thousands of documents, including classified ones, from the Archives that were related to the ongoing cases.
The new Serbian Government was fully determined to uphold its commitment to bring to justice all indicted individuals by transferring them to the Tribunal and by trying them in domestic courts. Serbia also recognized the efforts of the new Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, appointed in January 2008, to secure the arrests of the remaining fugitives in close cooperation with Serbian authorities. That gave Serbia every reason to believe that Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, two remaining indictees, would soon be apprehended and transferred to the Tribunal. Successful cooperation with the Tribunal was one of the most important objectives of the new Serbian Government, he added.
Serbia supported the Tribunal’s completion strategy, defined in Security Council resolutions 1503 and 1534. He said the basic precondition for the strategy’s success was the capacity of the domestic courts to process the cases they had received from the Tribunal according to international legal standards. It was only through cooperation that the completion strategy could be carried out by 2010.
But challenges remained, and to overcome them and uphold the rule of law, the issue of witness protection was crucial, he said. Serbia had done its best to protect witnesses and acted on each request of the Office of the Tribunal Prosecutor. The Report concluded that interference with witnesses, particularly in the form of witness intimidation, and their growing failure to appear voluntarily to testify, was a grave concern. Serbia was very concerned by the inability, and even flat refusal, of some countries and organizations to provide witness protection and prevent the disappearance of potential witnesses. He called for international cooperation to redress the situation, even at this late stage.
WANJUKI MUCHEMI, Solicitor General of Kenya, highlighted his delegation’s continued commitment to the “high ideals of international criminal justice and eradication of impunity”, and expressed optimism for a successful conclusion of pending cases before the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the Former Yugoslavia. He also noted the one-year extension of the Tribunals mandates for the completion of case work, along with progress made in the handling of existing cases. Recognized also was the Tribunals’ need to provide and protect the administration of justice by prosecuting those promoting impunity.
The cooperation of Member States was critical, he said, in the success of courts to restore justice, secure peace and prevent future mass atrocities. Challenges yet to be resolved were the establishment of a sustainable and long-term mechanism to address, among other things, transfer and trial of remaining Tribunal cases, pursuit of fugitives, sentence monitoring and archival management.
Calling attention to the case of Félicien Kabuga, a Rwanda Tribunal indictee who remained a fugitive despite several reported sightings in Kenya, he said that the Kenyan Government had fully cooperated with the Tribunal in attempts to locate that fugitive, largely through the Joint Kenya-International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Task Force. In a further demonstration of commitment to the cause, an order was obtained from the High Court of Kenya to freeze the fugitive’s estate property holdings. That issue was currently before Kenyan Courts.
JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) said his country had continued to improve institutional mechanisms for cooperation with the Rwanda Criminal Tribunal and had handled all requests made by the body. Security Council resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1504 (2004) required both Tribunals to end their activities within specified deadlines, and further stated that middle- and low-ranking cases be transferred to national jurisdictions, he added.
Describing national efforts, he said a comprehensive piece of legislation had been passed in March 2006 to govern the transfer of cases from the Tribunal and any other State to Rwanda, which provided sufficient guarantees for fair trial. Modern courtrooms had been prepared, and for the past two years, a joint programme had been run, under which Rwanda conducted familiarization visits with the Tribunal and organized workshops for judges. An agreement for transferring Tribunal convicts to Rwanda had been signed on 4 March, based on the requirement to have sentences served in Rwanda.
Fugitives still at large were not limited to the thirteen on the Tribunal’s list, he said, stressing that Rwanda had appealed to the Security Council to see that the conclusion of the Tribunal’s mandate not become an amnesty for those not on its list. He appreciated efforts of Governments that had apprehended some fugitives, and proceedings for their extradition to Rwanda were under
way. Rwanda’s commitment to comply with international standards of fair trial was unquestionable, he added.
Since May, the Prosecutor had filed five requests for transfer of cases to Rwanda for trial, and those applications were pending before five different Tribunal benches, he said. Rwanda had discharged its duty to file submissions before the referral chambers. Despite such efforts, he was “seriously concerned” that the case referral process could undermine the trust his country had “painstakingly” built. That trust had helped certain Governments apprehend fugitives found in their respective territories. “We must be judged on the basis of our conduct and policies, not on the basis of presumed future misconduct”, he said.
On the Barayagwiza case, he said the Tribunal had convicted that indictee through to the appellate level, and had since handed down five acquittals. That had not raised any protest from his country. Yet, Rwanda had been portrayed as a country that opposed acquittals, which was a serious misinterpretation. He denounced the message in the ruling which portrayed the Rwandan system as one that could not be trusted because the ultimate beneficiaries were fugitives still at large.
It was crucial to find an amicable conclusion to the ad hoc mandate of the Tribunal, he said, calling for a long-term mechanism between Member States and his Government under which key issues were addressed, including the transfer and trial of all remaining cases, particularly since all arrangements for having convicts sent to Rwanda had been completed. Consultations were ongoing with the team making recommendations on the transfer of archives to Rwanda.
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russia Federation) said the main goal of the Tribunals was the timely completion of the pending cases “of the most senior leaders suspected of being most responsible for crimes” within their jurisdiction. Other cases needed to be referred to national jurisdictions in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1503 and 1534 (2004). He considered the Tribunal’s measures regarding referrals of several cases to national jurisdictions of the utmost importance, and welcomed the Prosecutor’s active steps in that regard.
Russia believed the leadership of the Yugoslav Tribunal had lost sight of the prescribed parameters of its work. There was no section titled “Completion Strategy” in the whole Report, and progress on pending cases had to be deduced from the comparison of several reports. Instead, there was an extensive section on the “semi-diplomatic” activities of the Tribunal, going beyond its mandate, and complaints of non-cooperation of States. He noted that the recent arrests of indictees Župljanin and Karadžić showed the high level of cooperation with the Court.
He went on to point out that there were no measures on closing the Tribunal in the report, and said all Tribunal indictees should be tried by that organ and not referred to national jurisdictions. That policy was a demonstration of the mistrust of the judicial system of the Balkan States and contradicted Council resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004). Only a few Tribunal indictees could be named “the most senior leaders suspected of being most responsible for crimes”, and more often, the people in question were middle- and low-ranking military commanders.
He also emphasized the Russian Federation’s position of principle that the rule concerning the main responsibility of States for bringing perpetrators of war crimes and other serious international crimes to justice remained unchanged. International criminal courts had only a complementary role, since they were not capable of replacing national judicial systems. He also said the report did not reflect the omission of the Court in protecting witnesses.
He said the General Assembly’s decision to extend the mandates of the Tribunal judges until the end of 2009 had been an exceptional measure. He proceeded from the understanding that in the near future, the Security Council would manage to create a mechanism for the implementation of residual functions of the Tribunal after their closure.
SABELO SIVUYILE MAQUNGO (South Africa) commended both the Tribunals for their work towards achieving their completion strategy, holding a high number of trials simultaneously and making ultimate use of ad litem judges. The completion strategy was time bound, and there were cases, due to the passage of time, that needed to be referred to national jurisdictions. That was central to wrapping up the work of the Tribunals successfully. To that end, he commended countries that had accepted cases from the Tribunals, and hoped to see others accept them.
He was disappointed that the Rwanda Tribunal Chamber had declined requests by the Prosecutor for three cases to date, and hoped there would be a careful study of the Tribunal’s judgements to enable future referrals to take place. In addition, he welcomed offers for technical assistance to Rwanda.
Continuing, he said justice sector reform was a critical element of post-conflict reconstruction. For both Tribunals, accused high-level officials remained at large, and he urged that Ratko Mladić, among others, be brought to justice. Completing the Tribunals’ work required sufficient resources, and the Assembly must ensure they had the staff to wrap up operations on time. He urged States to continue to extend cooperation regarding the travel of witnesses.
The issue of legacy also must be addressed, and the Tribunals must be measured by the extent to which they contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security. The passage of time must not result in the impunity of any fugitives, he explained, stressing it was important that the Tribunals’ archives be stored in locations where fugitives did not have access to them.
Statements on Peacebuilding Commission
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) noted the Peacebuilding Fund’s achievement of its original goal of $250 million, along with the Commission’s important role in the reconstruction of countries affected by conflict. But he stressed that more coordination was needed between the Fund and the Secretariat, and that objective criteria for the selection of countries to be assisted by the Fund needed to be established. The Fund should not be viewed as another development agency since its aim was to help identify national priorities and then advise and mobilize economic, financial and political forces in favour of integral reconstruction of countries emerging from crisis.
In order for the important work of the Peacebuilding Commission to reach the population, he noted that education, support of small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as the strengthening of governmental institutions were fundamental for lasting peace. On the development of the Commission itself, as a new, still-evolving organ, he urged better coordination with the Peacebuilding Support Office, Organizational Committee and country-specific configurations, and further joint efforts with regional organizations.
He went on to comment on new linkages with the Peacebuilding Commmission, such as the establishment of different configurations established in the private sector to assist in peacebuilding processes in job creation and demobilization of former soldiers, especially younger persons, as well as an intensification in relationships with international economic-financial institutions, like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. However, he was greatly concerned by the underrepresentation of Latin American and Caribbean countries in the Peacebuilding Commission since its inception, and called for that issue to be addressed by the end of the year.
JOANNA GASH (Australia) said the Commission’s success would depend “in no small part” on the active engagement of its Chairperson and the Chairs of the country-specific configurations. In the last year, the Commission had moved beyond its initial procedural difficulties to develop more effective working methods, and the agenda had expanded to include Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. It had tackled important substantive issues, including the role of the private sector.
Through the Peacebuilding Fund, $86 million had been allocated to projects in countries on the agenda, and Australia supported use of the Fund as a catalytic tool to ensure the immediate release of resources. She was equally encouraged that bilateral and multilateral donors had supplemented those efforts with targeted assistance, and that the Commission continued to work in a flexible manner.
At the same time, the challenges ahead were significant and the Commission must continue to refine its approach, she said. The country specific configurations, in particular, must improve their tools, while the monitoring mechanisms must be refined to include specific indicators and benchmarks, and strategic frameworks should continue to adapt to local conditions. Further, the Commission must ensure that concrete experience with such issues as elections and land reform translated into a wider body of knowledge that informed future efforts. In closing, she noted that more than half of States emerging from conflict relapsed within 10 years. While it was too early to judge the Commission, there was reason for optimism with its progress to date.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said that while it may be too early to make a final assessment only two years after the Commission became operational, the Commission had definitely made important contributions to post-conflict peacebuilding in the countries on its agenda. The discussions also had contributed to the development of new partnerships and a whole new methodology. The experience from the first two years suggested that, in its next session, the Commission would have to focus on ways to make its own work more efficient and effective. If not, the inclusion of new countries might lead to paralysis.
Austria attached special importance to the systematic integration of a gender perspective into all aspects of the Commission’s work. It also appreciated the role of the Peacebuildling Support Office, which had helped steer the Commission through it first two years. The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Jane Holl Lute, would need to work to strengthen its ability to deliver substantial and systematic support for the work of the Commission, both in preparing for and servicing the work of the Commission in New York, as well as supporting the implementation of the peacebuilding strategies in each country.
He called for adequate staffing of the Office’s staff and he said Austria would fund the position of a Junior Professional Officer for the next two years. Austria also viewed the Peacebuilding Fund as an important building block in the Organization’s peacebuilding architecture. It had the potential to act in new and innovative ways where other funding mechanisms were mot available. For this reason it had contributed $2.1 million to the fund.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU (Benin) said the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund were justifying the reasons for their creation. The Commission had developed a vast range of activities to promote national priorities and, following its work with Burundi and Sierra Leone, had begun a strategic cooperation framework for Guinea Bissau, which would help that country hold free and transparent elections. Such measures must contribute to helping the State create conditions conducive for lasting peace. He underlined the importance of mobilizing resources to help rebuild pivotal infrastructure, and also explained the need to strengthen the Commissions’ ability to promote synergy.
The role of the Peacebuilding Fund was essential, he continued, noting disbursements were not always linked to actions decided upon within the strategic cooperation frameworks. As such, closer cooperation was needed. Donor countries made it possible to put the Fund into practice, and there was reason to strengthen its capacity to make funds more quickly available for emergency assistance, particularly emergencies caused by economic difficulties. Emphasizing the important role of the Working Group on Lessons Learned, he said that panel’s recommendations must be integrated into the work of United Nations agencies.
The Commission’s Organizational Committee must strengthen its role, which was devoted to follow-up of the implementation of strategic frameworks, he said. Benin had made a considerable contribution to the Commission, and would play a more active role by making available its national experience in peacebuilding and in the establishment of institutions that promoted democracy.
JOSEPH MELROSE (United States) said that in its second year, the Peacebuilding Commission was “beginning to find its place within the United Nations” as it contributed and participated in the international community’s response to post-conflict challenges.
He noted that in the coming year the Commission would need to develop strategies and mechanisms to sustain its accomplishments, as well as expand its work to other countries. This would entail increasing additional international resources for all its configurations, reaching out to peacebuilding expertise beyond the United Nations’ system, strengthening stronger and more integrated coordination between missions, agencies and programs, and developing identifying methods of monitoring, prioritizing and conducting analysis to address gaps in fulfilling its mandate. The Commission, in this pivotal third year, would now need to justify its place in the United Nations’ system by achieving its own agenda goals. He concluded by thanking the chairs of the Commission’s country-specific configurations and welcoming Jane Holl Lute, the new Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.
JAN GRAULS (Belgium) recalled the European Union’s earlier recommendation that the Peacebuilding Support Office improve the Commission’s methods, among other suggestions. Such recommendations overlapped with those put forward last week by the Commission’s Chairman.
Today’s meeting marked the second year of the Commission’s existence, he said, and there was a need for it to balance its primary objectives. The dual mission of the Commission was to bring together primary actors, and to closely follow developments in the country involved. It was important to find a proper balance between each of those aspects. Further, in the country-specific configurations, dialogue must be conducted in a manner that respected the principle of mutual commitment. Open dialogue among partners for peace was of pivotal importance.
Continuing, he underscored the need for a framework based on concrete priorities that reflected realities in the field. Belgium had the particular responsibility to accompany the Central African Republic on its path to stabilization, and his Government had been receptive to various observations in that regard. Turning to the Fund’s report, he said Belgium had been the twelfth contributor to the Fund. While the difference between the Commission and the Fund was understood in New York, it was not always understood among the countries that might actually receive assistance. The greater the scope, the more it would be possible to make it an essential tool. It also would be useful to bring to conclusion the lessons learned.
CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ (El Salvador) said that her country provided information on various peacebuilding stages in specific matters such as demobilization and reintegration of armed forces, in particular for Guinea-Bissau’s benefit. That sharing of experiences was meant to prevent a resurgence of violence on the ground.
She urged the Commission to strengthen its work in the future, bearing in mind the need for more dialogue in order to consider various factors for post-conflict countries, and to deepen its relationship with the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). A stronger relationship between the Fund and countries was also necessary, she said, noting that the Fund’s pledges had now surpassed $250 million. Urging better transparency and accountability, she expressed hope for the Fund to also benefit national and regional projects aimed at expanding peacebuilding efforts and changing the reality on the ground.
Because conflicts are not the “exclusive preserve” of any specific society, but rather the outcome of many factors -- internal and international -- she urged a combined response to unfulfilled demands of various groups, and more equitable participation in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. She also called for more exchanges of information and political dialogue in post-conflict countries, in the hope of coming to a new national understanding. Participation from regional groups was also encouraged.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), stressing the importance of the reports submitted on the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Commission, noted in the two years since those two new bodies had been established, the strong, competent and flexible modality in which they had responded to challenges as they expanded their scope. Indeed, expansion into the Central African Republic indicated a broad trust in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.
However, he noted two trends: the first being a large number of countries emerging from conflict with no institutional structure remaining and great humanitarian assistance needed; and the second being a large number of countries emerging from conflict and quickly falling back into the same situation, resulting in economic, social and civil chaos as well as a surge of violence and a destruction of the State. Although peacekeeping was necessary, it could only bear fruit with cooperation to build a civil society that would then be able to be fully integrated into an international community of nations.
The Commission represented the best answer to respond to countries emerging from conflict, and Uruguay’s commitment to that body’s work remained steadfast. He reminded the Assembly that Uruguay’s contribution of troops was the largest per capita in the world, and that teams from Uruguay provided electoral support and protection to the citizens during political transition worldwide. Yet with such valuable experience, Uruguay was not serving on the Commission itself. The lack of proper representation in the Commission of Latin American and Caribbean countries, with their unique experience emerging from conflict and re-establishing peace and long-term stability, revealed a lack of equitable geographical representation and respect for viewpoints that would be beneficial to countries in the aftermath of conflict. He concluded by noting that Uruguay was the first country in the Latin American Group to be a candidate in the election for the Commission, and he stated Uruguay’s wish to be an active participant in the Commission’s work.
FRANK MAJOOR (Netherlands) acknowledged the progress made by the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund in the two years of their existence. Reiterating a point made many times, he said that the most effective way to prevent a relapse into conflict was with the strengthening of a country’s stability and democracy. In reviewing the work of the last two years, he stated, “we are not there yet.”
He called for concrete support from existing and new donors to address the gaps in the peacebuilding process for the three countries engaged in the Commission and Fund’s work. In partnerships to that end, the reviewing of the Commission’s work and a continual streamlining and improvement of operations were also crucial to both the Fund and the Commission. Noting the great support from the General Assembly for the Commission’s work, he pointed out that the success was not determined from vocal support of delegates, but, in fact, from Member States’ willingness to actively and whole-heartedly contribute to the countries involved.
BONG-HYUN KIM (Republic of Korea) touched on several issues that would impact the ongoing work of both the Peacebuilding Commission and Fund.
First, national ownership of recipient countries needed to be strengthened for long-term sustainable development. Second, he highlighted the “3 Qs: quick response; quick relief; and quick impact”, as a way of showing concrete results to the citizens. When applied to health programs, the work of the Commission was very apparent and helped challenge relapse into conflict.
Third, he said that continued improvement in the working methods of the Commission would guarantee its efficiency and response time. Further, with the PBC at the centre, the partnership of all stakeholders would become stronger, both within and without the United Nations system. Establishing a stable and predictable Fund was his fifth point. He observed that although the Fund had exceeded its original target, 80 per cent of the deposited funds had come from 8 donors. A broader and more diverse funding base was necessary.
Sixth, he said the Commission and Fund needed to be more prepared to mitigate and minimize the multiple crises facing the world, amongst them food and energy shortages, financial collapse, and climate change so that the accomplishments of the Commission not be negated. His last point was a call for a seamless process from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. That would require carefully designed strategies and close cooperation from all parties.
He concluded by reminding the Assembly that just 50 years ago, the Republic of Korea was emerging from conflict. Because of the assistance from the international community and the United Nations it had established peace and long-term development. It was with this understanding of the vital component of such support that Korea reaffirmed its financial and strategic support for the Commission and the Fund.
MARTIN PALOUŠ (Czech Republic), aligning himself with the statement made last week on behalf of the European Union, recalled several achievements during the reporting period: Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic had been placed on the Peacebuilding Commission’s agenda, and the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework for Sierra Leone and the monitoring and tracking mechanism for Burundi had been adopted. The Commission also improved its role in marshalling resources, and he appreciated efforts by the Chairman and the Chairs of the country-specific configurations to develop contacts with the World Bank, among other banking institutions.
An important Commission role was to provide advice to the Assembly and the Security Council, he said, and briefings by the Chairman and the country configuration Chairs had become a useful practice. The Commission’s role of mobilizing the United Nations system for peacebuilding efforts was among the most important. Indeed, peacebuilding was based on social, economic and political development, interlinked by tasks from security sector reform to promotion of human rights, and countries on the agenda served as an example of how to realize the “delivering as one” goal.
As a Peacebuilding Fund donor country, the Czech Republic was pleased that the Fund had exceeded its initial pledge target, and he hoped it would “act as a catalyst” to attract other donors. Finally, he stressed his country’s honour in being a Commission member, and reiterated his firm support for its activities.
TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) described the main objective of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund as the prescription of “useful therapy” in order to rapidly heal the “traumatic wounds of emerging countries”. He stressed that “outstanding progress” had been made by the Commission and by stakeholders on implementation of peacebuilding frameworks, as well as on financing on various levels and successful training institutions. Though the two-year old Commission was still determining priorities, he commended its important role in the rehabilitation of post-conflict countries, ensuring that they did not plunge back into conflict.
To that end, Cameroon supported an integrated strategy for peacebuilding, among other things, and effectiveness of listing all peacebuilding activities and ways to achieve them. He also encouraged further collaboration between the Peacebuilding Commission and United Nations bodies such as the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, since their expertise ensured concrete results would be obtained on the PBC agenda. In addition, he urged more direction in the Commission’s work to improve efficiency and to avoid obstacles such as those faced in Sierra Leone and Burundi.
Calling the Fund a “unique strategic instrument” that could become a catalyst in peacebuilding for countries emerging from conflict, he supported “this farsighted vision” but expressed concern with the multitude of players working in cooperation with various partners. He stressed that the concept of peacebuilding was not well understood by all stakeholders. The creation of a mandate outlining the scope of initial peacebuilding activities was necessary to increase awareness, along with strategic value-added results. In that context, he called for more transparency in allocations of the Fund, on the principle of ongoing assessment of criteria and the balance of field experience and projects.
Calling the Peacebuilding Commission an “extraordinary tool” at the disposal of people in need so that the international community can build peace and create sustainable development, ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL of Guinea-Bissau expressed full appreciation on behalf of the neediest countries, including his own.
The innovative character of the Commission was highlighted in the report, he said, along with the innovation seen in all of its contributing partners, among them civil society, development partners and the Bretton Woods Institutions, as not only important partners but truly committed ones. Some criticisms of the United Nations system had been raised about a lack of follow up actions, but he pointed out that the Commission was fundamentally different in that the combined knowledge, efforts and support from countries capable of offering it could truly assist the needy. Such assistance was not just in financial terms, but could also encourage democratization, the promotion of the rule of law and the involvement of wide segments of society, such as women, youth and political parties. By doing so, he said the outcome would be “irrefutable and tangible”.
He went on to express appreciation to the Commission for its work to link different groups in Guinea-Bissau’s society to ensure an inclusive foundation for democracy and to establish a strategic framework. He expressed gratitude to all members of the Commission, its special training team which went to Guinea-Bissau, and to development partners. He also encouraged Member States to continue contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund, saying that doing so would be a “real investment” and very profitable, for the future of international peace.
ALESSANDRO MOTTER, Liaison Officer, Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), spoke of the close cooperation between his organization and the Peacebuilding Commission in the strengthening of parliaments’ capacity and role in the peace processes. He noted that the participants in parliaments in post-conflict countries were often the very same participants in the conflict itself. That delicate circumstance required the full support and efforts of the international community to “promote dialogue and a culture of tolerance”.
The IPU had recently launched a project aimed at English-speaking African parliaments to promote inclusive political processes, institutional reform and reconciliation. Members of parliaments from Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, among others, had convened in Sierra Leone for a regional seminar to discuss issues essential to the peacebuilding and parliamentary process. The IPU had also collaborated with the Peacebuilding Commission on the New York panel, “Parliaments, Peacebuilding and Reconciliation”, which included experiences from Burundi, Central America and South America.
In addition, at the Commission’s request, the IPU, in cooperation with the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone and the United Nations Development Programme, undertook a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the Sierra Leone parliament, and observed that the challenges facing that country were those of a post-conflict environment. National reconciliation and transitional justice therefore needed to be some of the priorities necessary to continue its progress. Understanding the complex role of a parliament has been a challenge for the international community. Stakeholders must therefore recognize what parliaments could do and put their diverse capabilities to use. He thanked the Commission for placing “high on its agenda the needs of democratically elected parliaments” as an essential component to peacebuilding.
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