It is my honour to speak on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm our strong support for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
We believe the Tribunals and the international community can be proud of the Tribunals’ many achievements to date. The Tribunals have made an unprecedented contribution to the international community’s goal of ending impunity for serious international crimes. Their jurisprudence has enriched our understanding of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the practice and procedures of international criminal law. By fostering the development of national courts, the Tribunals have strengthened the rule of law. Through their outreach and coordination activities the Tribunals have fostered reconciliation and have demonstrated that peace and justice can be pursued in tandem. We welcome the efforts being made to utilise the legal and institutional legacies of the Tribunals to inform the work of other international criminal tribunals, and to promote the advancement of international criminal justice.
CANZ appreciates the efforts being made by both the ICTY and the ICTR to achieve the goals set out in their respective Completion Strategies. We particularly welcome the ICTY’s implementation of the recommendations of its Working Group on Speeding Up Trials and the ICTR’s issuing of practice directions aimed at improving the management of trials.
CANZ recognises that in moving into the completion phase of their work both Tribunals are facing some significant challenges. It is evident from the reports of the Tribunals that a key issue of concern is the fugitive status of 12 indictees. It is imperative that all remaining indictees be surrendered, and that States make special efforts to ensure that high-level indictees Ratko Mladic, Goran Hadzic, Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana face trial. As noted by the Tribunals themselves, decisive and intensified action by the relevant authorities is critical in this regard.
It is equally important that the international community respond to the calls of the Tribunals for assistance in developing creative approaches to assist with the retention of essential staff. We accept that the Tribunals are being asked to undertake an ever more onerous workload at a time when they are losing experienced personnel at an alarming rate, as staff seek out positions with greater job security. We hope that the United Nations Secretariat and other relevant bodies will continue to work with the Registrars of the Tribunals to find practicable solutions to this very pressing problem.
CANZ recognises that the completion of the Tribunals’ mandates will not mean an end to all of the Tribunals’ functions. It has long been understood that there will be certain activities, such as the trial of subsequently captured fugitives, the enforcement of sentences, the protection of witnesses, the provision of assistance to national authorities and the management of archives, which must be continued. We welcome the efforts being made by the Tribunals in this regard, as well as the efforts being undertaken by the Government of Rwanda to address the impediments to the referral of cases to Rwanda by the ICTR. We also note the reports and recommendations made by the Security Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals in relation to the establishment of a mechanism to carry out the residual functions of the ICTY and ICTR. We encourage the ongoing discussion of these issues. While the situation faced by every criminal tribunal is unique, these discussions and their eventual outcomes will no doubt be of great assistance to future planning undertaken in relation to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The successful completion of the ICTY and ICTR’s work will require the cooperation and support of all States. We call upon States to give practical effect to their commitment to an effective system of international criminal justice. For our part, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will continue to offer the Tribunals our full support and cooperation in this vital and challenging stage of their existence.