United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres left New York on Wednesday, 20 December 2017, to attend the closing ceremony of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands.
After his arrival on Thursday, the Secretary-General, alongside King Willem-Alexander, attended the closing ceremony. The Secretary-General described the Tribunal’s creation in 1993 as a ground-breaking moment, and he saluted the courage of all those who came to the Tribunal to guarantee that justice could be served.
The Tribunal, the Secretary-General said, had pushed international expectations of accountability beyond what was anticipated in 1993, transforming how we speak about and address situations in which serious international crimes are committed. He added that just as the whole international community, including the United Nations, had to acknowledge their share of responsibility for the massacre, so must the various communities of the former Yugoslavia build on the legacy of the Tribunal and deepen their efforts towards trust and full reconciliation. Accepting the undeniable truth and facts of past tragedies is crucial for building a better and common future, the Secretary‑General said. (See Press Release SG/SM/18834.)
Following a tête-à-tête with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Minister for Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra and other senior Government officials, and a lunch meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General had a meeting with the President of the International Criminal Court, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi. Mr. Guterres and Mr. Rutte also had a press conference on 21 December 2017.
That evening, the Secretary-General attended a dinner hosted by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Máxima.
On Friday, the Secretary-General officially opened the Humanitarian Data Centre, which was established and managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is supported by the Government of the Netherlands and is part of The Hague Humanity Hub. The Centre aims to significantly increase the use and impact of data in humanitarian crises. In his remarks, the Secretary‑General said that the challenge is to connect innovation and harness it to help millions of vulnerable people. This Centre, he said, will help get people the support they need more quickly and efficiently by harnessing the power of data. (See Press Release SG/SM/18835.)
While in The Hague, the Secretary-General also met with the President of the International Court of Justice, Ronny Abraham, and members of the Court, at the Peace Palace. The Secretary-General gave a keynote speech at an event on “The UN and Current Threats to International Peace and Security.” (See Press Release SG/SM/18836.) He also held a press encounter.
Next, the Secretary-General was the guest of honour in the Dutch TV programme called College Tour, which was filmed at the Peace Palace. The programme was broadcast on Dutch public television on 14 January 2018.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the Community Center Samsom, a centre that is engaged in innovative community-based approaches to prevent violent extremism.
The Secretary-General left the Netherlands on Friday night, 22 December 2017, for Lisbon, Portugal.