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 judgments and the annual reports before us. We would like to thank the Presidents of the two Tribunals, Judges Byron and Robinson, for their detailed and informative reports, which describe the progress made during the last year.
The Tribunals’ work has been crucial in advancing justice and the rule of law in Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. The Tribunals will leave a legacy of international jurisprudence that can guide courts and deter the future commission of grave crimes, as well as prevent impunity.
As the completion date for these tribunals draws nearer, I would like to focus on three specific issues that are all significant for the successful completion of the Tribunals’ work. They are the continued efforts by the Tribunals to implement their completion strategies, the cooperation of the Member States, and the agreement in the Security Council concerning residual issues.
Both Tribunals are continuing the hard work to complete their mandates. The Yugoslavia Tribunal has concluded proceedings against 120 of the 161 indicted persons. The Rwanda Tribunal has delivered judgments at the first instance for 45 of the accused, and for 27 of the accused at the appellate level. 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. We urge the Tribunals to continue their efforts in this regard.
The Tribunals cannot successfully complete their mandates without the full cooperation of States. It is crucial at this point that States give both Tribunals their unreserved support. All States must honour their obligations 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. Moreover, the important responsibility for enforcing sentences must be shared by more States. We welcome the conclusion of new agreements by the Yugoslavia Tribunal, and we look forward to additional agreements being concluded.
The failure to arrest remaining fugitives continues to be of concern to us. It is not acceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes are evading legal proceedings. We therefore welcome the arrest this week of Idelphonse Nizeyimana, one of the remaining accused by the Rwanda Tribunal, and his prompt transfer to Arusha from Uganda. This is an important step forward. We urge the continued cooperation and support from all Member States in order to fulfil their obligation to arrest and transfer fugitives to the Tribunals without delay.
Lastly I would like to draw the Assembly’s attention to the issue pending in the Security Council, namely how the residual issues should be dealt with after completion of the Tribunals. We have read with interest the Report of the Secretary-General dated 21 May 2009. While we are fully aware of the ongoing deliberations in the Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, we urge the Council to conclude its work on these important issues as soon as possible. This will help to ensure a proper transition from two Tribunals to one or possibly two mechanisms that can perform the necessary tasks after the closure of the Tribunals.
One of the key outstanding issues concerns the location of such a mechanism or mechanisms. Norway would support an approach which also fully incorporates the needs of other United Nations-assisted courts.
One should also take full advantage of possible synergies. As we all know, the International Criminal Court is expected to move to its permanent premises in 2014. According to the report of the Secretary-General, the current relocation plans for the ICC could still be adapted to accommodate the needs of a residual mechanism. Without prejudice to the outcome of the discussions in the Security Council, this is one of many issues that indicates the need for expeditious action by the Council.
Thank you, Mr President.