UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: PLENARY MEETING ON THE INTERNATIONAL RESIDUAL MECHANISM FOR CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS
19 October 2022
Statement on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand
Thank you Mr President,
It is my honour to speak today on behalf of Canada, New Zealand, and my own country, Australia.
CANZ reaffirms our strong support for the essential role of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in carrying forward the unprecedented legacy of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
As we tragically continue to see the horror of atrocity crimes around the world, the Mechanism and its predecessor tribunals are a concrete example of how the international community can realise accountability for serious international crimes committed in complex conflict situations.
CANZ takes this opportunity to recognise the dedication and leadership of former President Carmel Agius of Malta, whose tenure as President expired in June this year after serving as a Judge of the Mechanism since it commenced operations in 2012. We are grateful he will continue contributing to the work of the Mechanism in his role as Judge.
We also congratulate Judge Graciela Gatti Santana of Uruguay on her appointment as President.
We are especially pleased to see Judge Santana appointed as the first woman President of the Mechanism. The authority of the Mechanism and the quality of its judgments are enriched by the diversity of those that serve on and lead its bench.
We thank President Santana for her briefing on the Mechanism’s ongoing work to bring perpetrators to justice for atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
We look forward to supporting you as the Mechanism enters an important phase in concluding its work and cementing its legacy.
CANZ recognises the progress made by the Mechanism over the last year in finalising its core judicial work.
We look forward to the conclusion of the appeal in the case against Stanišić and Simatović.
We are particularly pleased to see that the trial of Félicien Kabuga commenced last month, the last core case to be heard by the Mechanism.
Almost three decades on from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the commencement of this trial is a reminder that the international community can and must remain steadfast to its commitment to international justice and accountability, however long it takes.
We also pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the Mechanism’s staff in successfully tracking the remaining fugitives of the ICTR, particularly considering the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CANZ remains committed to supporting the Mechanism in its enduring efforts to track the remaining four fugitives indicted by the ICTR.
CANZ continues to urge all States, especially States where fugitives are suspected of being at large, to strengthen their cooperation with and provide all necessary assistance to the Mechanism. We must all continue to work in ensuring that justice can prevail for victims.
CANZ recognizes the efforts of the Mechanism in finding a durable solution for eight acquitted or released persons now in Niger.
CANZ also welcomes the Prosecutor’s ongoing discussions with the Serbian authorities, including again this month, to improve cooperation with the Mechanism, an obligation imposed upon all States.
In July this year, the Mechanism marked an important milestone – the tenth anniversary of its commencement of operations.
The Security Council’s recent fourth review of the Mechanism’s work, culminating in Resolution 2637 (2022), showed significant progress. This demonstrates that no matter the years, impunity will not prevail.
But we must also remain committed to supporting the Mechanism’s orderly transition in line with its completion strategies.
CANZ fully supports the expeditious completion of all proceedings and the Office of the Prosecutor’s ongoing assistance to national jurisdictions prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
In delivering justice through international or regional avenues, we must keep in focus that it is the primary responsibility of States to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes of international concern.
As with the ICTR and ICTY, the Mechanism’s ultimate legacy for international criminal justice is dependent, in large part, on the individual and collective efforts of Member States.
For our part, Australia, Canada and New Zealand will continue to offer our full cooperation and support to the Mechanism, to give practical effect to our steadfast commitment to international criminal justice.