The United States continues to be deeply concerned about reports of ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence in western Burma’s Rakhine State and urges all parties to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks. The Burmese Government has announced a State of Emergency and curfews in Rakhine State, but reports of violence continue.
We join others in the international community and call on authorities to work with local leaders—together with Muslim, Buddhist, and ethnic representatives, including Rohingya—to halt the on-going violence, begin a dialogue toward a peaceful resolution, and ensure an expeditious and transparent investigation into these incidents that respects due process and the rule of law.
The United States has welcomed Burma’s recent reform efforts and the important steps President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other leaders inside and outside of government have taken. The situation in Rakhine State underscores the critical need for mutual respect among all ethnic and religious groups and for serious efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Burma. We urge the people of Burma to work together toward a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic country that respects the rights of all its diverse peoples.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the Philippines as you celebrate the 114th anniversary of your declaration of independence this June 12th.
The United States values the Philippines as a long-standing and trusted ally. President Obama and I were delighted to host President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Del Rosario last week to reaffirm this partnership. Our nations are joined together not only by our common struggle during World War II and through our Mutual Defense Treaty, but also by a deep and multifaceted partnership including robust trade, people-to-people relations, and a mutual commitment to good governance and respect for human rights. Our militaries stand shoulder-to-shoulder to ensure global peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, respond to natural disasters, fight transnational crime, and curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Through our Partnership for Growth, we are working together to catalyze broad and inclusive economic growth in the Philippines.
Ambassador DeLaurentis on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Thank you, Mr. President. Tribunal Presidents Meron and Joensen, Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow, thank you very much for your briefings today and your continued service. Congratulations, President Joensen, on your recent election as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. We wish you success in your new role.
The United States commends the tribunal Presidents, Prosecutors and Registrars for their dedication and extensive preparation in setting up the Residual Mechanism (RM). We welcome the overall downsizing by both the ICTR and ICTY as trials end and remaining functions are gradually transferred to the Residual Mechanism.
We also appreciate efforts by the ICTY, ICTR and RM to share resources and enact cost-saving managerial and administrative measures. These include double-hatting staff members, sharing common administrative support services, embedding translators into legal support teams, and using video-teleconference technology. We are aware of the challenges posed by high staff attrition, and are grateful to the judges and staff members who are performing multiple functions across multiple trials.
This Council must be flexible to ensure that both tribunals are able to administer justice expeditiously yet fairly. When the Council adopted Resolution1966 in 2010 and set December 31, 2014 as the requested date for completion of all remaining work by the tribunals, we did not have the benefit of knowing when indicted individuals would be arrested. Today, we are pleased that all ICTY fugitives have been apprehended, including the re-apprehension in January 2012 of convicted war criminal Radovan Stankovic. We recognize, however, that trial and appeal schedules will be difficult to accurately predict, and that flexibility in assigning cases is important in this regard.
Turning to the ICTY, we welcome the reported cooperation of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in providing access to documents, archives and witnesses in response to requests for assistance from the Office of the Prosecutor. We look forward to Serbia concluding and acting upon investigations into who was involved in and responsible for sheltering Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, and other notorious ICTY fugitives in Serbia over the course of so many years. Such cooperation is essential to completing ongoing trials and appeals. As the nations of the Balkans make further progress towards EU accession and Euro-Atlantic integration, their record of cooperation with the ICTY and each other, as well as their progress on domestic justice and accountability initiatives, will be critical.
At the same time, the United States deplores the statement made this week denying genocide in Srebrenica. Genocide in Srebrenica is not a subjective determination – it is a defined criminal act which the ICTY has confirmed in final and binding verdicts in multiple cases. It cannot be denied.
Turning to the ICTR, there are, unfortunately, still nine ICTR fugitives at large. We call on all UN member states, particularly those in the Great Lakes region, to help apprehend them. The apprehension of the remaining ICTY fugitives demonstrates the international community’s commitment to ending impunity for those who commit mass atrocities. Those who harbor fugitives obstruct the administration of justice, put themselves in danger, and only delay the inevitable.
We take note of the recent transfers of cases from the ICTR to Rwanda, and welcome Rwanda’s willingness to fairly adjudicate transferred cases. This is a positive development, as international tribunals such as the ICTR cannot last forever, and strengthening national legal and justice sectors will help promote long-term rule of law and stability in the region. We applaud the ICTR’s efforts to create a robust monitoring mechanism in cooperation with regional organizations to ensure the fairness of trials at the national level. Case transfers to competent national jurisdictions will help fulfill the ICTR’s completion strategy. We welcome the news that the ICTR is close to completing all trial work as projected in the November 2011 completion strategy. Indeed, the ICTR’s vastly reduced judicial workload reflects the court’s strong leadership and the dedication of its staff.
As the ICTY and ICTR draw to an end and prepare to transition remaining functions to the Residual Mechanism, they represent a strong legacy in the international fight against impunity for those who commit atrocities. The defendants convicted in tribunal proceedings to date have been tried and found guilty of some the most heinous crimes known to mankind, including genocide, murder, and rape as crimes against humanity. Thanks to the hard work of the tribunals, the world knows about these crimes, and perpetrators are being held accountable for their actions. In addition, there are now archives and public records which will be accessible to generations to come, bringing to light stories that would otherwise be lost or hidden in the shadows. This information is critical to combating the concerted efforts of those who seek to promote an alternative historical narrative at variance with judicially established fact. In addition to combating impunity, the tribunals’ contributions in the areas of local capacity-building and education will help foster long-term peace and reconciliation.
Mr. President, as President Obama has said, “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America,” and we are committed to working with the international community to do so. We can and we must improve our individual and collective efforts to protect populations from atrocities, including with measures to enhance early-warning, prevention, response and accountability. We will continue to focus on concrete outcomes to make a difference on the ground and to help UN actors use planning and diplomacy to prevent atrocities, not just to respond to them.
Thank you, Mr. President
Mr. President, the United States is horrified by the Assad regime’s persistence in its bloody campaign against the Syrian people. As if these acts themselves were not reprehensible enough, the regime continues to defend its actions through ridiculous conspiracy theories and outright lies to its citizens while its regular and irregular forces commit gross human rights violations.
The May 25 massacre in Houla was an unambiguous demonstration of the Syrian government’s flagrant violations of its commitments as set forth in Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043 and its obligations under applicable international law. Artillery and tank fire on residential areas are not nuanced. The cold-blooded murder of more than 100 people, including at least 49 children under the age of 10, cannot be seen as part of a gray area. We put responsibility for this massacre firmly at the feet of the Assad regime. In this regard, the United States welcomes the Human Rights Council’s June 1st special session and its request for the Commission of Inquiry to conduct an investigation into the massacre. Those responsible for perpetrating such crimes must be held accountable.
We are appalled by the latest reports of regime-sponsored violence in Hama. UN observers must be given immediate, full, and secure access to confirm the facts on the ground.
Let us be plain. To date, the Assad regime has made no serious efforts to comply with its commitments to any of the six points of the Annan plan. The regime continues to use its heavy weapons against civilians. Tanks and troops remain deployed in urban areas. Political prisoners have been set free only in very small numbers, and fundamental freedoms remain greatly restricted.
Mr. President, the onus remains unmistakably on the Syrian government to end its brutal war against the Syrian people and take immediate steps toward a cessation of violence. If it does not do so, the international community must take further steps to increase pressure. In this vein, we welcome the June 2 decision of the League of Arab States.
The United States remains fully committed to supporting Joint Special Envoy Annan, and we will continue to engage with all parties concerned to push for the implementation of his six point plan. We seek a unified international community that will assist a political transition that meets the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people. But, we are sober to the fact that there is no possibility of moving forward with a dialogue that achieves this goal until the Syrian regime demonstrates meaningful and substantial progress towards its obligations and commitments.
Finally, Mr. President, please allow me to thank the Joint Special Envoy for his tireless efforts and the Secretary General for his leadership. I would also like to express the appreciation of my government for the brave men and women who are serving in the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria. Thank you.
The United States congratulates Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas Thabane on his inauguration. We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and all members of parliament to continue strengthening our longstanding partnership. These successful elections demonstrate a commitment to multiparty democracy and represent a historic moment for the people of Lesotho as the country forms its first coalition government.
I also want to thank Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili for his contributions to Lesotho’s democratic development and for his acceptance of the will of the Basotho people. Today is a proud moment for the Kingdom of Lesotho.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Portugal as you celebrate your National Day this June 10th.
Portugal and the United States share a history of friendship and trust based on our mutual commitment to promoting democracy, prosperity, and security for people around the world. These values have united our countries and strengthened our common approach to global challenges, and they will continue to guide our alliance into the future. The United States is proud to call Portugal a partner in Europe and on countless issues around the world.
I am delighted to wish the Portuguese people a wonderful celebration on your National Day.
We are deeply concerned by reports of ongoing violence in Burma’s Rakhine State. We are monitoring the situation and urge an immediate halt to violent attacks. We also encourage the government to pursue an investigation in an expeditious and transparent manner that respects due process and the rule of law.