Let me begin by expressing Norway’s continuing support and full recognition of the achievements and the high standards of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, as reflected in the Tribunals’ well reasoned judgements and the annual reports before us. We would like to thank the Presidents of the Tribunals for their detailed and informative reports, which reflect the progress made during the period under review.
As we have consistently held, the work of the Tribunals contributes to bringing justice to victims of the massive crimes that were committed. It will leave a legacy of international jurisprudence that can guide future courts and deter the future commission of these grave crimes, and prevent impunity for potential perpetrators. As such they are contributing to the development of international criminal justice and the fight against impunity for mass atrocities in general.
We commend both Tribunals for their commitment to meeting the completion strategy, while ensuring that due process standards and fundamental legal principles are fully respected.
According to the report of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the Tribunal has concluded proceedings against 106 of the 161 who have been charged to date. For the first time in the Tribunal’s history, the three Trial Chambers operated at full capacity and ran seven trials simultaneously, three of which involved 18 accused persons. In addition, the Appeals Chamber issued a record number of decisions, including 11 judgements in the past year, seven of which were in the past six months.
To date, the Rwanda Tribunal has concluded proceedings against 33 accused persons. In addition, trials involving 22 accused in different cases are in progress. Eight detainees are awaiting trial. The Appeals Chamber has issued a large number of decisions, including four appeal judgements in respect of six persons.
The Rwanda Tribunal report stresses that the success of the completion strategy will continue to depend on the assistance and cooperation of States. We fully agree. We appeal to all States to demonstrate – not just in words, but also in practice – their full cooperation with the tribunals. As the work of the Tribunal is nearing completion, it is crucial that States give it their unreserved support.
It is of the utmost importance that all States honour their financial commitments and pay their assessed contributions on time.
Furthermore, Member States must fulfil their obligation to arrest and transfer fugitives to the Tribunals without delay. We compliment the prosecutors on their efforts to secure the arrest of remaining fugitives, and we urge the involved States to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.
It is not acceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes are evading legal proceedings. The main mission of the Tribunals will not be fulfilled unless the highest ranking indictees are brought to justice.
Norway has an agreement with the Yugoslavia Tribunal regarding enforcement of sentences and cooperates closely with the Rwanda Tribunal in several fields. There is a pressing need for more States to enter into agreements regarding enforcement of judgements. It is unreasonable that only few Member States should shoulder this important responsibility.
We strongly support the Tribunals’ external activities and their involvement and cooperation with local judiciaries. As stated in the ICTY report, an active engagement with local judiciaries will help to ensure that local courts have the capacity to continue the Tribunal’s work in the future.
All States must honour their international obligation to cooperate with regard to requests for full and effective assistance to the Tribunals. This applies with regard to witnesses, financial and material support and practical assistance in the enforcement of sentences. All States should demonstrate their commitment to the Tribunals by means of active and concrete actions.
Norway will stand by our long-term commitment to the successful completion of the mandates assigned to the two Tribunals by the Security Council.
Thank you, Mr President.