Let me start 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 two Tribunals, Judges Pocar and Byron, for their detailed and informative reports, which reflect the progress made during the period under review.
The work of the Tribunals has been crucial in advancing the cause of justice in Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. Moreover, the Tribunals will leave a legacy of international jurisprudence that can guide future courts and deter the future commission of these grave crimes, as well as 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 strategies, 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 114 of the 161 indicted accused. For the first time in the Tribunal’s history, the three Trial Chambers ran eight trials simultaneously, three of which involved 18 accused persons.
To date, the Rwanda Tribunal has completed judgements at the first instance for 36 accused persons. In addition, trials involving 19 accused in six different cases are in progress. Three detainees are awaiting trial. According to the report the Tribunal’s workload is under control and moving fairly and expeditiously towards completion.
The Rwanda Tribunal report also stresses that the success of the completion strategy will continue to depend on the support and cooperation of States. We fully agree, and we appeal to all States to demonstrate their full cooperation with both Tribunals. As the work of the Tribunals is nearing completion, it is crucial that States give it their unreserved support.
We welcome the recent decisions of the Security Council to extend the terms of office of both permanent and ad litem judges, to enhance the effectiveness of trial proceedings and to contribute towards the implementation of the completion strategies.
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 Tribunals. We welcome the arrests of high-level accused during the period under review. In particular, we welcome the arrest and transfer to the ICTY of Radovan Karadzic. This is important for the victims of the crimes, and it will help to heal the wounds from the war in the Balkans. Karadzic’s arrest and transfer to the ICTY are indeed a victory for international law, an important contribution to bringing about justice, and a big step towards addressing the question of accountability for some of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since the Second World War, not least the Srebrenica massacre.
While noting these successes by both Tribunals, it is important to reiterate that the main mission of the Tribunals will not be fulfilled unless the highest ranking remaining indictees are brought to justice. It is not acceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes are evading legal proceedings. The failure to arrest remaining fugitives continues to be of concern to us.
Norway has entered into an agreement with the Yugoslavia Tribunal regarding enforcement of sentences and cooperates closely with the Rwanda Tribunal in several fields. There is an urgent need for more States to enter into agreements regarding enforcement of sentences. It is unreasonable that only few Member States should shoulder this important responsibility. We therefore commend the conclusion of new agreements by the Yugoslavia Tribunal, as mentioned in the report, and look forward to more agreements being concluded.
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, thereby ensuring the preservation of its legacy through the prosecution of war crimes cases by domestic courts.
Another important aspect we would like to highlight is the work being done through outreach activities. The report of the Rwanda Tribunal gives a detailed account of such activities, which we regard as an invaluable part of the Tribunal’s work.
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 resolute 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.