Statement by Ms. Katja Pehrman, First Secretary,Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union, UN Fifth Committee; Agenda Items 129 and 130: Financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; New York
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
First of all, let me extend my thanks on behalf of the EU to Ms Sharon van Buerle for introducing this item today, and to the Chairman of the ACABQ Mr Rajat Saha for the very helpful report of the ACABQ.
The European Union reaffirms its strong support for the international criminal tribunals. They play a vital part in ensuring that those who are guilty of the most serious violations of international humanitarian law are brought to justice. They have an important role too in post-conflict reconciliation, sustainable peace building and, more widely, in further entrenching the Rule of Law. Underpinning them are important principles: that justice should be applied fairly and impartially in the trials of all those accused.
However, those principles cannot be separated from the need for efficient and effective management. And while we welcome the undoubted progress in this area, it goes without saying that the Tribunals need to continue to maximise their efforts to rationalise and increase efficiency, and to keep to the timetables set out in the Completion Strategies. We will be seeking updates in informal consultations on the efforts of the Tribunals to address some of the issues highlighted by the General Assembly last year in our consideration of their budgets for the biennium. We would have preferred, however, to see these updates included in the Performance Reports.
We will also be seeking updates in informal consultations on the status of implementation of the relevant recommendations of the Board of Auditors. We note from the report from the ACABQ that progress in implementation of the Board’s recommendations is ongoing. The EU attaches great importance to the timely implementation of the recommendations of the oversight bodies, and therefore we encourage the Tribunals to implement the Board’s recommendations in a timely fashion. We are looking forward to receiving an update in this regard in the context of the next budget submission for the tribunals.
In addition to the First Performance Reports, we also have before us a proposal for a staff retention bonus at the Tribunals. Let me say at the outset that the European is clear about the importance of addressing this issue; high staff turnover rates and departures of key personnel impact directly on the Tribunals’ ability to carry out their mandates effectively. We commend, therefore, the continued and considerable efforts of both Tribunals in this regard, and welcome the significant improvement in turnover rates that has already been achieved as a result of these efforts. We also recognise that there is more to be done, and, to that end, we note the Secretary-General’s renewed proposal for a staff retention bonus. However, we share the concerns raised by the Advisory Committee that the proposal, firstly, is based on very broad financial assumptions and, secondly, risks creating the precedent of a new entitlement. We see little alternative, therefore, to asking the Secretary-General to present a revised proposal.
We recognise, however, that this matter remains urgent. It would have been the European Union’s strong preference to explore alternatives or amendments to the current proposals in informal consultations, with a view to agreeing a way forward before Christmas. However, with the very short time remaining in this session, we do not believe that is possible. We will therefore be urging the Secretary General to present revised proposals to us as early as possible in the New Year, to enable our full consideration of this important issue.
I should like to conclude by recalling the statement made several weeks ago to this Committee by the Controller of the United Nations, Mr Warren Sach, on the financial situation of the organisation. He alerted this Committee to the $55 million still owed by Member States to the budgets of Tribunals. In our opinion, it is unacceptable for Member States to neglect their obligations in this way and we echo the Controller’s call for all members to pay their contributions in full and on time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.