Norway is a staunch supporter ofthe International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunals' high standards and achievements are reflected in the Tribunals' well-reasoned judgments and the annual reports before us.
I would like to thank the Presidents of the Tribunals, Judges Byron and Robinson, for their informative reports. They give a detailed account of the progress made during the last year.
The Tribunals have made important contributions to international criminal law. They have developed a jurisprudence that has set standards for national tribunals, as well as for other international tribunals.
By effectively prosecuting the perpetrators of the most serious international crimes, the Tribunals have not only helped to bring justice to victims in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. They have also made significant achievements in the fight against impunity for mass atrocities in general.
I would like to focus on three specific issues that are essential for the success of the Tribunals' work. These are;
- the Tribunals' continued efforts to implement their completion strategies,
- the cooperation of Member States, and
- the work on residual issues.
Both Tribunals are working hard to fulfil their mandates. We commend them for their commitment to implementing their completion strategies, while ensuring that standards of due process and fundamental legal principles are fully respected.
The Tribunals must continue to carry out their work expeditiously, but this endeavour is not without obstacles. In the reporting period, the Tribunals have faced difficulties in meeting the objectives set out in their completion strategies due to the disquieting impact of staff attrition.
In this regard, we welcome Security Council resolutions 1931 and 1932, which extended the terms of 39 judges in total. Furthermore, the resolutions called on relevant United Nations bodies to explore ways to address this issue as the Tribunals approach the completion of their work.
The Tribunals cannot successfully fulfil their mandates without the full cooperation of States. It is crucial that States give both Tribunals their unreserved support.
All States must honour their obligations to provide full and effective assistance to the Tribunals. We would here like to highlight two challenges; namely enforcement of sentences and remaining fugitives.
The responsibility to enforce sentences must be shared by more States. We encourage States to enter into agreements on the enforcement of sentences, and we look forward to more such agreements being concluded.
The failure to arrest remaining fugitives continues to be of grave concern to us. It is not acceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes are evading legal proceedings. Member States must fulfil their obligation to arrest them and transfer them to the Tribunals without delay.
We are pleased to note that three fugitives have been arrested since the last report. However 12 fugitives are still at large. We shall not rest before the remaining fugitives are apprehended and brought before a court. Impunity is not an option.
How the residual issues of the two Tribunals should be dealt with, is a pending issue for the Security Council. While we commend the Tribunals for their efforts we would also urge them to ensure that as much as possible of the work regarding residual issues is carried out before the completion dates.
We welcome the ongoing work in the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, and the support provided by the Secretariat. With regard to location of the residual mechanisms, Norway supports an approach that also fully incorporates the needs of other United Nations assisted courts. Full advantage should be taken of possible synergies.
The continuation of the residual activities of the Tribunals is an important part of their long-term legacy and is important for their legitimacy in the international criminal law in general. Norway is a strong supporter of the rule of law and criminal justice, and will continue to work actively to assist the Tribunals in achieving their completion dates.