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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.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Iceland and Turkey, the County of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

At the outset we would like to thank the Presidents of both Tribunals, Judge Robinson and Judge Byron, and the Prosecutors, Mr Brammertz and Mr Jallow, for their briefings on the implementation of the completion strategies of the Tribunals.

To preserve the legacy and integrity of the Tribunals is of the utmost importance for the European Union. The Tribunals have had a pioneering role in the fight against impunity and made outstanding contributions to international criminal law and international humanitarian law.

It is a fact that the Tribunals will not be able to complete their work within the envisaged dates in resolutions 1503 and 1534. A number of challenges face both Tribunals in their work towards completing their mandates.

The EU regrets that despite continuing appeals of the international community thirteen accused remain at large. The arrest of the remaining fugitives is integral for the completion of the Tribunals’ work. Among those still at large are key indictees allegedly responsible for the most serious atrocities, such as Ratko Mladic, Goran Hadzic and Félicien Kabuga. There have been many commendable instances of cooperation. However, the European Union continues to urge all States to cooperate immediately and unconditionally with both Tribunals, in full compliance with their obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

As outlined in the current completion strategy reports, retaining qualified staff and judges remains a difficult task. We acknowledge the importance to enable the Tribunals to complete the proceedings as soon as possible without compromising due process. However, we also re-iterate the need for the Tribunals to ensure that they continue to seek efficiencies wherever possible, and that they move to down-size as soon as possible, in line with the level of trial and other remaining activities.

We note with appreciation the high output in judgements and newly commenced trials in 2009 for the ICTR. The European takes note of the continuing commitment to the completion of the mandates of the Tribunals. The EU urges the Tribunals to continue to identify further measures to complete their work in an efficient and expedient manner.

Mr President,

I will now turn to the work of the ICTY more specifically. The EU would like to recall that full cooperation with the ICTY is an essential element of the enlargement strategy of the EU. This includes assisting in strengthening national jurisdictions through capacity building as called for in resolutions 1503 and 1534. Our commitment to strengthened cooperation and capacity-building is demonstrated by the number of EU members that have concluded agreements with the Tribunal on relocation of witnesses, enforcement of sentences, secondment of prison-staff as well as the financial and institutional support of the EU to the Tribunal’s capacity-building and outreach activities.

Mr President,

We note with appreciation the efforts made by Rwanda to meet the demands regarding the right to a fair trial. The ongoing strengthening of the Rwandan legal system and its ability to adjudicate cases from the ICTR will hopefully permit the ICTR to transfer such defendants to the Rwandan courts. These efforts have been fully supported by the European Union as an important step in the fulfilment of the Tribunal’s completion strategy.

The primary responsibility for prevention, investigation and prosecution of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity lies with States. Thus, the EU continues to support capacity building activities of both Tribunals which also contribute to the enhancement of the rule of law and regional stability.

Mr President,

The EU welcomes the work on “residual issues” of the Informal Working Group of the Security Council on International Tribunals, including identifying functions that need to continue after the two Tribunals have completed their work. We value the open and transparent discussions under Austrian chairmanship including by convening an Arria-formula meeting open to all UN Members States in October.

The European Union stands ready to continue to work with the Council on finding the most appropriate solutions to the residual and legacy issues. This includes addressing questions of a practical nature as well as finding solutions to ensure adequate access of the archives. The archives should foster reconciliation and memory, contribute to the preservation of the profound achievements of both Tribunals to secure their long-term legacy.

It is also important to build on existing capabilities and create synergies between tribunals as part of an overall strengthening of international criminal justice.

I thank you, Mr President.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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