I have the honour of speaking today on behalf of Canada, Australia and my own country, New Zealand.
CANZ pays tribute to the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. They have made unprecedented contributions to international jurisprudence in the area of international criminal law and to the international community’s efforts to end impunity for the most serious international crimes. CANZ reiterates its strong support for the work of the Tribunals.
Mr President -
The Tribunals have achieved many important milestones in the past year. Of particular note are the arrests of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić and their transfer to the ICTY in The Hague. The arrest of those last remaining fugitives brings the ICTY one step closer to fulfilling its mandate. Their trials will contribute to the healing process for victims of the atrocities committed during the 1992-1995 war in the former Yugoslavia. We commend the Serbian authorities for facilitating those arrests, and the Prosecution’s commitment to move ahead expeditiously with the trials.
The Tribunals issued several important decisions in the past year, including the ICTY’s decision convicting Momčilo Perišić of crimes against humanity and war crimes, sentencing him to 27 years imprisonment; and the decision in the Uwinkindi case, which marked the first time an ICTR Chamber has agreed to transfer a case to Rwanda for trial.
We commend the work and the decisions of the Tribunals in these and other landmark cases. That work has greatly improved the international community’s understanding of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and will be instrumental in informing the work of other international criminal courts and tribunals.
In the context of transfers to national jurisdictions CANZ acknowledges the excellent outreach undertaken by the Tribunals. Making judgments accessible and understandable to victims and affected communities is a crucial part of the Tribunals’ legacy. Equally important are the training programmes and study visits conducted by the Tribunals, aimed at building the capacity of national courts to handle cases concerning the same crimes as fall under the Tribunals’ subject-matter jurisdiction. The capacity building of domestic jurisdictions is essential to ensuring that both past and future perpetrators of serious international crimes are brought to justice.
Mr President -
CANZ welcomes the December 2010 decision by the Security Council to establish the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, which will commence work in July 2012. That resolution demonstrates the international community’s determination to combat impunity for those responsible for the most serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The CANZ countries are confident that the Residual Mechanism will continue the good work of the Tribunals in contributing to international jurisprudence, and will ensure that high-level fugitives do not escape justice. We commend the joint work of the Tribunals to facilitate the commencement of the Residual Mechanism’s operations, and to complete their remaining work by December 2014. We urge States to continue to support the Tribunals to assist them meet their completion strategies and support the Residual Mechanism as it takes up its work.
The Tribunals both face challenges of staff retention and recruitment. We recognise that these problems have the potential to impact on the ability of the Tribunals to meet their completion strategy targets. We urge the United Nations Secretariat, and other relevant bodies, to continue to work with the Registrars of the Tribunals to find practical solutions to address the staffing situation.
Mr President -
The CANZ countries call on States to support the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism at this important juncture in the delivery of international criminal justice. We urge States, especially those in the Great Lakes region, to cooperate with the ICTR to ensure the arrest of the remaining nine fugitives.
For our part, at this critical time, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will continue to offer our full support to the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism.