– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Iceland†, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
We would also like to thank the Presidents and Prosecutors for their reports and briefings. They illustrate well the unwavering commitment and tireless efforts of both Tribunals in support of the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes.
We remain steadfast in our support for international criminal justice. Ending impunity for serious crimes is indispensable to build sustainable peace and reconciliation. Victims of mass atrocities deserve justice and rehabilitation, and those who commit the most serious crimes must know that they will be held accountable.
The achievements of ICTY and ICTR represent a landmark in this regard, in particular the development of international criminal jurisprudence. The case-law from ICTY and ICTR has contributed greatly to the development of international criminal law. Moreover, the tribunals were a catalyst for the negotiations on the Rome Statute and the establishment of the International Criminal Court. We pay tribute to the Tribunals’ achievements and contribution to the fight against impunity.
Since its establishment 20 years ago, the ICTY has made a remarkable contribution to peace and reconciliation in the Western Balkans as well as to the development of international criminal justice. It has given a voice to the victims, especially women and children.
The ICTY has also set new standards for providing assistance and support to victims as well as capacity building and outreach. These projects are important for the Tribunal’s legacy. The European Union contributes to the ICTY Outreach Programme for 2013 and 2014.
Progress has been more uneven for the transition to national war crimes prosecutions. Regrettably, some Western Balkan countries continue to face difficulties in prosecuting war crimes cases. Some also suffer from significant backlogs. The EU has repeatedly emphasised the importance of local ownership, in line with UNSCR 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004), and this remains essential. Building the necessary national capacity and increasing public awareness are important elements in this respect, and further efforts are needed.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has made an invaluable contribution to our shared goal of ending impunity for genocide crimes and has played a key role in strengthening the rule of law and promoting long-term stability and reconciliation.
The apprehension of the remaining fugitives must, however, remain a priority. We reiterate our calls for effective cooperation of all States concerned, particularly those in the Great Lakes region.
We welcome the transfer of cases to the domestic Rwandan Courts for prosecution. To be successful, this process needs continuous commitment, both from the Rwandan authorities and from the international community. Further progress is needed in reforming the genocide ideology law, while promoting a future based on genuine reconciliation. Also, the monitoring mechanism in place needs to ensure that fundamental rights and international standards of fair trial procedures will be followed.
If the Rwandan courts are seen to be conducting fair, impartial trials, this will be a significant step in the country’s transitional process, and a major lesson for other countries engaged in transitional justice reforms and peace building.
In order to preserve the important achievements and legacy of both the ICTY and the ICTR, we support the process of the establishment of the Residual Mechanism of both Tribunals pursuant to SC resolution 1966 (2010). In this regard, we welcome the commencement of the functioning of the ICTY branch of the Residual Mechanism in The Hague as of 1 July 2013. Moreover, we encourage the UNSC to look into options aimed at supporting a smooth transition process, in particular with regard to staffing requirements related to the loss of highly-experienced staff members. In parallel we encourage the Tribunals to continue effective prioritization of their resources, while ensuring that remaining trials for those accused and appeals be kept on track.
We will continue to strongly support both the principle and system of international criminal justice and its integral role in the reconciliation process, and we call on all states to do the same.
I thank you.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
† Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.