BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
H .E. Ms. Mirsada Čolaković
The Security Council Meeting
June 12th, 2013
At the outset, allow me to welcome the Presidents and Prosecutors of both Tribunals, and express gratitude in regards to the submitted reports and respective briefings today. I would like to underline great contribution of all the staff of the Tribunals and commend the effort they make for successful completion of Tribunals' mandates.
Significance of the 20 years of operation of the ICTY and the ICTR, anniversary we have commemorated just this past month, cannot be seen as merely a date important only in terms of these two ad hoc tribunals; in reality, it stands as a testimony and living embodiment of the spirit and promise carried from the Nuremberg and into the 21" century. Triumph of justice over vengeance was the legacy of this post-World War II tribunal. It complemented Hague and Geneva laws through the established principles and precedents, eventually serving as an inspiration and a foundation for both the Tribunals and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the establishment of the ad hoc international Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as a legal framework to ensure accountability and end of a tragic period for all the peoples living in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tribunal has been accepted as a determined message that crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia will be punished consistently and without exception. Same can be said about the ICTR and contributions it had made towards reconciliation and sustainable peace in the respective region.
In accordance with above said, Mr. President, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been consistently and constructively cooperating with the Hague Prosecution and the Court, since the end of the war, which was positively assessed in the relevant periodic reports, and noted in this last report of the Prosecutor. We do note, however, all other assessments and concerns the Prosecutor has raised and are fully aware that still a lot remains to be done. I wish to remind that Bosnia and Herzegovina does carry the greatest burden of prosecutions for war crimes. Still, since 2005, when the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina became fully operational, measurable progress has been made in processing war crimes, and over 200 cases have been successfully concluded. However, according to the relevant statistics of the domestic and international actors, there are a large number of war crimes to be prosecuted in the domestic courts.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the National Strategy for War Crimes arguably asks for improved approach in its implementation and in fulfillment of deadlines set in it. The capacity of the BiH system to process war crimes cases with fairness and in line with international and national standards is not in question. However, stronger efforts need to be made to effectively increase the pace of the overall case processing on both state and entity level. As Tribunals are steadily heading towards their closure, duty in continuing fight against impunity and enhancing the reach of justice remains with the credible national prosecutions. To that end, Mr. President, let me assure you that our common goal remains insistence for all committed crimes to be investigated, prosecuted and the perpetrators appropriately punished. Having in mind unfortunate first-hand experience, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains resolute to those principles.
As regional cooperation plays an additional, imp01tant role in that respect, we are ce1tain that the Protocol on the exchange of evidence and information on war crimes, recently signed between the prosecutor's offices of Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbia and Croatia, will serve as an impetus in strengthening communication and further enhancing coordination. My country remains dedicated to further promotion and intensification of the regional cooperation, seeing that it is the joint interest of the countries in the region as well.
Moving to the issue of the completion of the work of both Tribunals, we note the exceptional efforts Tribunals continue to make in order to successfully complete their work and make full transition to the Residual Mechanism, always mindful of the highest standards of due process. It is our hope that further delays will be averted by progressively fulfilling the remaining judicial functions. Victims and their families waited long enough, and some are still waiting, on the opportunity for redress and closure. Further delays only undermine a solemn promise that justice will unconditionally be served.
Finally, Mr. President,
It is our hope that some lesson have been learned and in that regard I wish to remind this esteemed Council of the words of Robert H. Jackson at the Nuremberg trials, warning that "Wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish [are] so calculated, so malign, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated." It is a message we need to can-y with us in these turbulent times. As for Tribunals, one of their ultimate contributions at the end will be to demonstrate that administering justice can contribute to reconciliation, in the Balkans, and elsewhere. We can only hope that the pioneering role of these two Tribunals is to be confirmed and globally expanded by the ICC.
I thank you.