United Nations Security Council debate: The work of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia and the Mechanism

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations.

I too thank the Presidents and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (the Mechanism) for their briefings and reiterate New Zealand’s strong support for your work.

As noted by Council colleagues this morning already, the past few months have seen several important developments regarding the completion of the work of the Tribunals. These include the conviction and sentencing of Radovan Karadžić; as well as the arrest of ICTR fugitive Ladislas Ntaganzwa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and his imminent transfer to Rwanda for trial. We hope further progress can be made in apprehending those ICTR fugitives who remain at large, and encourage states to continue their cooperation with the Mechanism in this regard.  

The ICTY will only be able to achieve its completion strategy if all relevant States comply with their obligations under this Council’s Resolution 827. We are aware that Serbia faces some challenges and we encourage the Government to maintain its positive record of cooperation with the Tribunal.  

The Office of Internal Oversight Services report evaluating the implementation of the ICTY’s completion strategy between 2010 and 2015 paints a mixed picture of the Tribunal’s performance. In response, the ICTY questioned the application of a results-based management approach to judicial institutions and the impact it could have on judicial independence and the right to a fair trial.  

New Zealand has some sympathy with the ICTY’s concerns. We accept that the Tribunal has room for improvement in some aspects, and that some administrative and other problems could have been avoided. However, we believe the ICTY’s central priority should remain the completion of its work by the end of 2017.  

At this late stage in the Tribunal’s life cycle, a pragmatic approach to addressing the deficiencies identified by the Office is required.  It is more important that lessons learned from this report are captured and feed into the work of the Mechanism and future tribunals.   

We hear the Tribunal’s call for future reviews to be given sufficient time and to have a stronger focus on substantive issues. We also note its view on the need to take into account the unique nature of the institution, its judicial mandate, and factors outside its control. 

The Tribunal’s suggestion that a more productive approach would be to develop benchmarks for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of international judicial institutions is worthy of consideration. Also worthy of consideration is its suggestion to undertake a serious analysis of the factors affecting judicial efficiency. Agreement on the best approach will be needed prior to the evaluation of the Mechanism in two years’ time.

The Mechanism’s first review has been completed. Overall, we believe it should be commended for its work to date. It is clearly mindful of this Council’s vision for it as a small, temporary and efficient structure, whose functions and size will diminish over time.

We are pleased at the Mechanism’s efforts to maximise its effectiveness and efficiency by drawing on best practices and lessons learned from the ICTR, ICTY, and other tribunals. Its efforts to pursue new processes and working methods, and maintain flexibility in staff assignments, including through the effective use of remote working practices, deserves acknowledgement.   

There are, however, ongoing challenges. This Council’s resolution in December encouraged the Mechanism and the Government of Rwanda to collaborate on matters related to the legacy of the ICTR, including in respect of access to archives. We hope there will be further progress on resolving the archives issue. 

We also note the ongoing question of how and where the 14 Rwandans in the safe house in Arusha should be relocated. We would encourage the Mechanism to develop a process for risk based assessments in this regard. Such a process could be used for other situations, including in relation to those finishing their sentences outside of Rwanda.  

It is important that this Council maintains its support for the ICTY through to the end of its mandate, and gives support to the Mechanism. Issues such as the need for an incentives structure must be addressed to avoid delays due to staff attrition later on.  

But, more broadly, there is a need to have a serious conversation about how to practically, sustainably and cost efficiently ensure accountability for serious international crimes. Part of this conversation should be about how this Council can do better in ensuring practical support to the machinery for international justice and thus assist in expediting this work.  

In these conversations we need to face up to the reality that real justice has real costs. It always has.  

Thank you.


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