New York, 18 June 2010
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ivan Barbalić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations
at the UN Security Council Debate
on International Tribunal--Rwanda & Former Yugoslavia
I would like to welcome today the Presidents and Prosecutors of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and to thank them for their detailed reports and extensive briefings. We note once again their hard work and dedication to the cause of justice and combating impunity. Since their establishment, the Tribunals have represented a significant element and one of the foundation stones on which the international criminal justice system as we know it today is built. It is of ever-increasing importance for us to preserve their legacy, extend the necessary support and encourage the efficient completion of their work as well as the timely transition to an adequate and credible residual mechanism.
Allow me thus to reiterate the support of my country for the work of the Tribunals and to confirm the steadfast dedication of Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthening the international criminal justice system.
We strongly believe that prosecuting those who committed horrendous crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia not only will lead our countries to reconciliation and a better future, but, more important, will bring justice, consolation and dignity to the victims and their families.
We would also like to extend our appreciation to Ambassador Mayr-Harting for Austria’s firm leadership in chairing the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals. Building on the foundation set forth in the report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/258), the Group is working intensively and has achieved significant progress in its deliberations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina attaches great importance to the Group’s work and further commends the efforts of the Austrian delegation, with the valuable assistance of the Office of Legal Affairs, in steering the its deliberations towards the establishment of a residual mechanism that will reflect the Tribunals’ legacy in the most effective and appropriate manner.
As we consider the details of the reports regarding the delays in implementing the completion strategy, it is necessary to recognize that some factors beyond the Tribunals’ control have, to a certain extent, contributed to these delays. We should also take into account the heavy schedules described in the reports and the difficulties that the judges face in dealing with the number of cases running simultaneously, which suggests that we need to have a more realistic approach. Even though we regret the delays, guaranteeing a fair trial in each individual case should undoubtedly remain our priority. While we encourage the Tribunals to make every effort to complete their work, the Council remains under an obligation to provide its further support for their undisturbed work.
Extension of the judges’ mandates is certainly one of the issues the Council needs to address.
It is also regrettable that the number of those accused by the ICTY and the ICTR who are still at large remains unchanged. The arrest and prosecution of those individuals, either by the Tribunals or the residual mechanism, should remain our priority. We can consider their mandates fully completed only once this is accomplished. The reality of the present moment is that much work still remains to be done in the name of justice.
Bearing this in mind, we once again stress our concern that, for the ICTY, no progress has been made in locating and arresting the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. In underlining the strong commitment of Bosnia and Herzegovina to its obligations and firm respect and support for international criminal justice, I urge that these fugitives finally be made to answer for the crimes they have committed. In this regard, the cooperation of the countries in the region is crucial, but the further support and involvement of the international community are also necessary.
We also note with appreciation the details of the report of the ICTY Prosecutor, which further reflects the record of continued and positive cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Tribunal.
Cooperation has been particularly constructive in regard to the rule 11 bis cases transferred by the Office of the Prosecutor to the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina have responded effectively to all requests of the Prosecutor’s Office, providing documents and enabling unobstructed access to Government archives.
In addition, further steps have been taken to enhance cooperation between the countries in the region. With the prospect of national prosecutions of war crimes cases in the future and as indicated in the report of Prosecutor Brammertz, Bosnia and Herzegovina has entered into several agreements with neighbouring countries aimed at improving cooperation in judicial matters. We must agree with the Prosecutor’s assessment that these agreements serve as a good foundation and will eventually have a positive impact on investigations, clear communication and the exchange of information.
As Bosnia and Herzegovina has stressed numerous times, the work of the Tribunals has a great impact and most direct relevance for the countries under the Tribunals’ jurisdiction. As one of those countries, we cannot overemphasize the importance of justice and accountability. The horrific crimes that were committed need to be punished, individuals responsible should be named and justice finally served.
No matter how painful the process is, it will finally provide some comfort and dignity for victims and their families and eventually lead to reconciliation.