Legacy website of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Since the ICTY’s closure on 31 December 2017, the Mechanism maintains this website as part of its mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals.

 Visit the Mechanism's website.

Address by his Excellency, Judge Claude Jorda, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to the UN Security Council.

Press Release PRESIDENT

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 27 November 2001

Address by his Excellency, Judge Claude Jorda, President of the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to the UN Security Council.

Madam President, Excellencies, Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and Members of the Security Council,

I am deeply honoured to be addressing you again as President of the International Tribunal. As you are aware, a short while ago, my colleagues once more displayed their confidence in me and I will endeavour to show myself worthy. I am also pleased to have at my side the Prosecutor, Mrs. Del Ponte, as we report to you on the situation of the International Tribunal and inform you about our concerns regarding the continuation of our activity in the years to come.

In the eighth annual report of the International Tribunal which I had the honour of presenting to the General Assembly yesterday, you will find a comprehensive statement of the activity and reforms we undertook last year.

Today, I would like to draw your attention more specifically to two questions which I believe merit in-depth reflection. My first is as follows: in the light of the upheavals recently witnessed both in the States of the Former Yugoslavia, which are now more inclined than before to try their nationals themselves, and on the international scene, where the fight against terrorism has become a new priority for the member States, must we not reflect in concert on the future directions to give to the International Tribunal? My second – which unfortunately is not a new one – may be put thus: how can the high-ranking political and military officials who, through their crimes, allegedly prejudiced peace and security in the Balkans and who remain at large, be arrested at the earliest possible opportunity?

These two questions deserve to be raised at this juncture when the judges of the Tribunal, an ad hoc institution as you know, are embarking on their third mandate after already eight years of activity and are reflecting legitimately on the continuation and accomplishment of their work.

Yet, before sharing with you these two matters of concern, allow me to give you a brief overview of the current status of the International Tribunal and the reforms undertaken in the period under consideration.

1 – The structural and operational reforms of the International Tribunal are producing their initial effects and leading to a substantial increase in its activity.

The year 2000 - 2001 will undeniably have been marked by the implementation of four major reforms of the structures and operations of the International Tribunal.

- The first reform seeks mainly to expedite the proceedings. It gives the judge a more active role both during the pre-trial phase and the trial itself. Through the use of ad litem judges, it also makes it possible to increase the International Tribunal’s trial capacity.

At this point, I would like to offer you my special thanks for having acted so rapidly in support of this reform fundamental for the future of the Tribunal and for having adopted resolution 1329 of 30 November 2000 to this end.

- The second reform, which is currently being implemented, seeks to improve the organisation and operations of the two International Tribunals’ Appeals Chambers, which will soon be faced with a significant increase in their workload as a result of the expanding activities of the Trial Chambers.

- The purpose of the third reform is to provide the International Tribunal with a genuine defence organ. Ensuring that the trials are balanced has been one of the everyday concerns of the judges since the Tribunal was established. Beyond counsel actually being in court, which is already a reality, such balance requires that there be a defence counsel organisation guaranteeing their independence and professional ethics. The bar should come into being in 2002 once the necessary consultation has been completed, in particular with defence counsel.

- The fourth reform concerns the three organs of the International Tribunal - the Chambers, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry. So that these organs co-ordinate more closely in setting the judicial priorities and so that the resources of the International Tribunal are better managed, a Co-ordination Council and a Management Committee were instituted in January 2001 and they have met several times since.

With the adoption of these reforms, the judicial activity of the International Tribunal has increased. As of September 2001, the first six ad litem judges began to serve in three new trials. Thus, for the first time in its history, the International Tribunal is hearing four trials at once. As of January 2002, three new ad litem judges will serve at the International Tribunal. Accordingly, the Trial Chambers will be holding six simultaneous trials on a daily basis, which will make it possible for the International Tribunal to double its trial capacity and, as I promised you last year, to complete first instance proceedings in 2007. This is with the proviso, of course, that the accused continue to be arrested and to surrender voluntarily at a sustained rate.

This increase in judicial activity would not have been possible had it not been for the member States’ closer co-operation with the International Tribunal and their increased participation in arresting the accused and gathering evidence. In this respect, I will underscore the change of political regime in the Republic of Croatia which resulted in enhanced co-operation with the International Tribunal. The arrest and transfer of the Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague likewise constituted a historic turning point in relations between the International Tribunal and Serbia.

It nonetheless remains that this new resolve to extend co-operation, which is still too inconsistent, must continue for all the accused. In the same vein, it must be broadened with respect to the enforcement of sentences since, under the Statute, the member States must receive the convicted persons. I will return to this in a moment.

It is against this international backdrop, now more propitious for the Tribunal, that the number of people who have been arrested or who have voluntarily surrendered has multiplied in the last few months, thereby bringing the number of accused detained in The Hague to fifty. The activity of the Trial Chambers has as a result greatly increased: in one year, six judgements affecting seventeen accused were pronounced and several hundred decisions were issued during proceedings. The Appeals Chamber meanwhile issued some thirty interlocutory decisions and three judgements on the merits for seven of the accused, thereby consolidating its case law on some of the fundamental points of humanitarian law and international criminal procedure.

2 – The Tribunal is faced with a new reality. Must not its priorities be rethought?

The political upheavals recently witnessed in the Balkans have gradually changed the perception of the International Tribunal held by the States from the region. However, must these upheavals not also lead us to change our own view as to the ability of these States to try some of the war criminals in their territory? From this perspective, must we not, for example, further promote the new national reconciliation processes the Balkan States are setting up, such as the truth and reconciliation commissions?

On the international scene where other priorities are gradually taking front stage for the member States, in particular the fight against world terrorism, the International Tribunal must more than ever accomplish its mission in an expeditious and exemplary fashion. This is especially so given that voices challenging the legitimacy and credibility of the International Tribunal called to try crimes, some dating back over 10 years, are now beginning to make themselves heard amongst public opinion.

Admittedly, as I indicated yesterday to the General Assembly, we can still introduce other internal reforms in order to expedite the proceedings further and I will actively devote myself to so doing. Yet, it must be acknowledged that the proceedings have already been substantially transformed by the four major reforms I have just mentioned and can no longer be appreciably amended without interfering with the fundamental features of the international criminal trial as you defined them in the Statute.

For this reason, we should think in concert about what new directions to assign to the International Tribunal for the years ahead. Allow me to try and outline them.

The judges of the two International Tribunals met last September in Dublin in the presence of Mr. Hans Correll, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, and undertook to reflect on the priorities to assign to the International Tribunal for the years to come. In examining the results and prospects of their mission after eight years’ activity, they first discussed whether, as resolution 1329 (30 November 2000) so invites, the International Tribunal should not focus more on prosecuting those crimes constituting the most serious breaches of international public law and order, that is mostly, the crimes committed by the high-ranking military and political officials. After all, it is those crimes which principally jeopardise international peace and security. Mrs. Del Ponte - whose responsibility it is to bring prosecutions and to whom I would like to pay tribute at this point – shares many of our concerns on this issue.

The cases of lesser importance for the Tribunal could, under certain conditions, be "relocated", that is, tried by the courts of the States created out of the former Yugoslavia. This solution would have the merit of considerably lightening the International Tribunal’s workload, thereby allowing it to complete its mission at an even earlier juncture. Moreover, it would make the trial of the cases referred before the national courts more transparent to the local population and so make a more effective contribution to reconciling the peoples of the Balkans.

Yet, so that the International Tribunal may further focus its activity on prosecuting and trying the major military leaders and high-ranking officials, the States must still participate more actively in arresting and transferring them to The Hague. As you are aware, some of them still reside with total impunity in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, while others have taken refuge in the territory of Republika Srpska.

Furthermore, for it to be possible to "relocate" the cases of lesser importance for the Tribunal, the judicial systems of the States of the former Yugoslavia must be reconstructed on democratic foundations. The national courts must be in a position to accomplish their work with total independence and impartiality and with due regard for the principles governing international humanitarian law and the protection of human rights. This would suppose among other things that, under the aegis of the representatives of the international community in the Balkans, judges or international observers were sent to participate in or be present at the trials of war criminals and that the training programs for the local judges already set up were expanded.

I am aware that the process of judicial reconstruction is making good progress and I wish to underscore that the International Tribunal is prepared to make its contribution. I would also like to state that we are willing to reflect on what amendments to the rules of procedure and evidence would be implied by a redefinition of the relationship between the International Tribunal and national courts, or indeed the other processes of national reconciliation.

I will conclude this presentation by underscoring the fact that we have implemented almost all the reforms we considered vital and that they are beginning to produce the desired results. It nonetheless remains that to complete the work of the International Tribunal within a timeframe compatible with the mission you conferred on it, fresh reflection must be undertaken, in particular on the basis of the various observations I have just set out.

I would like to add that, within the strict limits of my authority, I remain at your disposal to collaborate in this exercise of reflection and, indeed, in any ensuing action.

I believe that, after eight years of intense activity, this process of reflection is both appropriate and crucial. Upon it hangs the ultimate success of an unprecedented undertaking which you instigated and whose role as a forerunner will undeniably be decisive for the International Criminal Court whose opening is now more imminent than ever.

I thank you for your attention.



International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
For more information, please contact our Media Office in The Hague
Tel.: +31-70-512-8752; 512-5343; 512-5356 - Email:
press [at] icty.org ()
Follow ICTY on Facebook,
Twitter and Youtube