Presidents Robinson and Byron, Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow, thank you very much for your briefings today. Judge Khan, congratulations on your appointment. And Judge Byron, thank you for your valuable service.
Mr. President, we open this debate on a day when Ratko Mladic is in The Hague. His capture, arrest, and transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is a milestone on the path to justice and reconciliation. We commend the Government of Serbia for apprehending Mladic, and we welcome President Tadic’s statement about his country’s commitment to apprehending the final ICTY fugitive, Goran Hadzic. Mladic’s capture means that he will now have to answer to victims for his alleged crimes, including the genocide at Srebenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995. It puts perpetrators of mass atrocities on notice: they will be held accountable for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. We expect all UN member states to take the steps necessary to bring to justice those indicted by the Tribunals.
Mr. President, we welcome the steady progress the Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have made to increase their efficiency. We urge both Tribunals to strive to complete their work at the earliest possible date. We are mindful of the importance of doing so without sacrificing the high standards of a fair trial. We urge the Presidents and the judges who act as managers of the courtrooms to take every measure to ensure that trials and appeals are both expeditious and fair.
These Tribunals and their predecessors have had genuine historical impact. The establishment last December of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals demonstrated that war-crimes fugitives cannot escape justice. The Residual Mechanism will allow for the completion of those functions that will necessarily outlast the Tribunals themselves. Transfers of cases to national jurisdiction have been made possible because States have further developed their judicial and investigative capacities. Programs such as the Joint European and ICTY Training Project for National Prosecutors and Young Professionals are welcome efforts to help build such long-term capacity.
Again, we applaud the Tribunals’ work thus far, and we urge them to make the most efficient use of available resources. We also encourage the Tribunals to continue to work with the UN Secretariat and other relevant UN bodies to develop practical and effective methods, including retention measures, to address the staffing shortages and the problems of attrition highlighted in the Prosecutors’ reports.
Mr. President, the United States calls on states in the former Yugoslavia to cooperate fully with the ICTY, which is both a legal obligation and a key to Euro-Atlantic integration. We welcome the Government of Croatia’s continued strong record of cooperation with the ICTY and its commitment to continue to search for any additional information the Prosecutor requested. Croatia provided crucial witnesses and documents in the important case against Ante Gotovina and others, which proved critical to the Tribunal’s deliberations.
We appreciate Croatia’s reaffirmation of its commitment to support the ICTY through the conclusion of its processes.
Let me turn now to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The United States welcomes the May 2011 judgment in the case of former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, the former head of the military police, and the two former commanders of the reconnaissance battalion. This case was the second one concluded by the ICTR that involved the responsibility of former senior military officers. It represents an important step for the Rwandan people toward justice and accountability.
The United States also welcomes the recent apprehension of the fugitive Bernard Munyagishari in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We urge all states to cooperate fully with the ICTR in their efforts to locate and apprehend fugitives. We commend those countries that are cooperating with the ICTR to bring the remaining nine fugitives to justice. We encourage continued progress so that these fugitives can be swiftly arrested.
On behalf of the United States, let me thank the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs for its dedication and service to the Tribunals. Let me also again thank the Presidents, Prosecutors, Registrars, and their staffs for all that they do to promote justice under international law for the victims of war crimes and mass atrocities.
Mr. President, we will never be able to bring back those who were murdered in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia. But Ratko Mladic will now have to answer to his victims—and the world—in a court of law.
From Nuremberg until today, my government has long viewed justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as both a moral imperative and an essential element of stability and peace. We reaffirm those convictions again today.
Thank you, Mr. President.