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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Country the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

Mr. President,

The European Union is strongly supportive of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The Tribunals are making an invaluable contribution towards our shared goal of an end to impunity for those who perpetrate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They have played a key role in the development of international criminal law by building up an extensive jurisprudence, not least in relation to the crime of genocide. On such important contribution from the case law of the ICTR is the finding that acts of rape and sexual violence committed with intent to destroy a protected group as such can constitute genocide. And by bringing to justice the perpetrators of these most shocking crimes, the Tribunals have helped to strengthen the rule of law and promote long-term stability and reconciliation in the Balkans and Rwanda.

Mr. President,

The European Union welcomes the ongoing efforts by ICTY and ICTR to fulfil their completion strategies and continues to urge both Tribunals to build on the progress already made. At the same time, the EU urges States to fulfil their obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1503 and 1534 in order to enable the speedy completion of the Tribunals’ work. In particular, the EU calls on all those involved to redouble their efforts to expedite the arrest and surrender of the remaining fugitive indictees. In the context of ICTY, the EU remains absolutely committed to seeing Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic face international justice.

The European Union has adopted two Common Positions in order to support the effective implementation of the mandate of the ICTY by imposing an assets freeze on indicted fugitives1 and a travel ban on persons assisting ICTY indictees to evade justice2.

Cooperation with the Tribunal is also addressed in the context of the Stabilisation and Association process (SAP). Full co-operation with the ICTY is a condition the SAP countries (Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania) for moving forward in the process. Since 2003, the SAP countries are asked to align themselves with the Common Positions. When the Tribunal ends its mandate, they will have the main responsibility for bringing justice to the victims of the conflicts. It is therefore important that the judiciary and the police of the countries of the region cooperate with a view to dismantling the support network of possible fugitives. Governments should not intervene in the work of domestic prosecution.

The European Union welcomes Serbia’s recent efforts to improve co-operation with ICTY. Nonetheless, the EU continues to believe that full co-operation between Serbia and the Tribunal is a fundamental requirement for conclusion of the SAP.

Mr. President, let me also briefly address some issues related to the ICTR:

The European Union welcomes the achievements of the ICTR since we last time discussed this issue a year ago. In his address to the Security Council on 18 June 2007, Judge Dennis Byron, President of the ICTR, recalled that the total number of cases completed in first instance is now 27, involving 33 accused. The major challenge in terms of ongoing trials remains four multi-accused cases, involving 17 accused.

Concerning convicted persons, six of them are currently incarcerated in Mali, while the other convicted persons remain at the facility in Arusha. In addition, the Tribunal has concluded enforcement of sentence agreements with the Benin, Swaziland, France, Italy, and Sweden. The EU strongly encourages States to conclude agreements on the relocation of witnesses and the enforcement of sentences with both the Tribunals.

The strengthening of the Rwandan judicial system and the improvement of its capacity to prosecute cases transferred from the Tribunal is also a goal that the EU fully supports – this is fully in line with Security Council Resolution 1503. The Tribunal provides support to the local judiciary and prosecutors in the region, as further described in the completion strategy.

The EU also welcome the outreach programme of the Tribunal and its work through various initiatives, namely the ICTR Outreach Programme, programmes on awareness-raising within Rwanda, strengthening relations with academic institutions in Rwanda, developing media, and the continuation of active cooperation and assistance to Rwandan civil society organizations.

ICTR faces two particular challenges – fugitive indictees and the proposed transfer of cases to Rwanda. There are currently seventeen fugitive indictees, including Felicien Kabuga. The EU urges all States to fulfil their obligations in respect of the arrest and surrender of outstanding indictees. On the transfer of cases, the EU welcomes the efforts of Rwanda to strengthen its judicial system and build capacity to prosecute cases transferred by ICTR. The final decision on transfer is, of course, a question for the ICTR Judges.

Mr. President, let me conclude:

The Tribunals cannot succeed without firm commitment of States to co-operate in accordance with their legal obligations. It is vital that this commitment strengthens and continues, as the Tribunals are approaching final stages of their work. Their work will not be finished before Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Felicien Kabuga are brought before the ICTY and ICTR respectively.

The EU therefore reiterates its strong call upon all Member States to live up to their international obligations by arresting and transferring the accused at large to The Hague and Arusha without delay. Continuing delays in transfer also put in jeopardy the timely implementation of the Completion Strategies.

The international community must not send the message that perpetrators of most serious international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity can go unpunished. Impunity is simply not an option.

Thank you Mr. President.

* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

1 Common Position 2004/694/CFSP in OJ L 315, p. 52, 14.10.2004.

2 Common Position 2003/280/CFSP in OJ L 101, p. 22, 23.4.2003, renewed and extended by Common Position 2004/293, OJ L 94, p.65, 31.3.2004

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