Let me begin by extending our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Presidents of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, Judges Khan and Robinson. Their extensive briefings today, together with the annual reports before us, reflect the tireless efforts of the two tribunals to contribute to our overall goal of fighting impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to us all.
Norway has always been a staunch supporter of the two ad hoc UN international criminal tribunals, as well as of the permanent International Criminal Court. We strongly believe that justice is a prerequisite for national reconciliation and lasting peace.
18 years after the creation of the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – the first international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg and Tokyo, and the first to be established by the UN – we are very pleased that there are now no indicted persons who have succeeded in evading the ICTY’s judicial process. We would like to echo the words of the Prosecutor of the Tribunal, Serge Brammertz, on the arrest of the Tribunal’s last remaining fugitive in July this year: “This is a precedent of enduring significance, not only for this particular tribunal, but also for international criminal justice more generally”. The ICTY has demonstrated that international criminal justice can, indeed, be delivered.
This year’s arrest and transfer to the ICTY of the two remaining fugitives would not have been possible without the commitment of the Serbian authorities to effectively cooperate with the Court. Norway appreciates the efforts made by Serbia in this regard and trusts that the Serbian authorities will continue to assist the Court during the ongoing trials.
With regard to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, it is also positive that the number of remaining fugitives has decreased during the reporting period (by one). However, it is far from satisfactory that as many as nine accused still remain at large. As is the case for the ICTY, the Tribunal for Rwanda can only successfully complete its work if it receives effective assistance from states. We urge all states, especially the states of the Great Lakes region, to intensify their cooperation with the ICTR and give it all necessary assistance. We urge, in particular, states to contribute to the arrest and transfer to the Tribunal of the remaining fugitives.
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. We are concerned about reports from both tribunals that continuing loss of highly experienced and essential staff could undermine their ability to meet their completion strategy targets. There may be a need for further measures to assist the Tribunals in reversing this negative trend, so that they can fulfil their mandates in due time.
Norway welcomes UN Security Council resolution 1966 (2010) on the establishment of the International Residual Mechanism for International Tribunals. We are pleased to note that the two tribunals are working closely together to ensure a smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism. As the two ad hoc tribunals’ mandates draw to a close, the Residual Mechanism will have an important role to play in ensuring the long-term legacy of the tribunals. We are confident that their work will lead the way in the continued fight against impunity.