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Completion Strategy Report: President Meron addresses the UN Security Council

Press Release
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document.)
The Hague, 5 December 2013

Completion Strategy Report: President Meron addresses the UN Security Council

The Tribunal’s President, Judge Theodor Meron, today updated the United Nations Security Council on the progress being made by the ICTY towards the completion of its mandate.

“The Tribunal has continued to make progress in completing the last cases before it. Since my last completion strategy report, the Tribunal has rendered five judgements,” the President told the Council. With regard to the remaining ongoing proceedings, the President told the Council that “almost all ICTY cases will have been completed by 31 December 2014.”

Forecast judgement delivery dates were unchanged in seven of the Tribunal’s eleven remaining cases, the President said. “The delays in three of the remaining four cases are of a very limited nature”. He explained that the judgement in the Karadžić case was expected to be issued in October 2015 instead of July 2015, while both the Šainović et al. and Đorđević appeal judgements would be rendered in January 2014, one month later than previous forecasts.

The final case, of Vojislav Šešelj, has experienced more severe delays, resulting from the disqualification of one of the judges in the trial. Another judge was subsequently appointed to the trial bench, and is now familiarising himself with the trial record and reviewing related documents. The President indicated that he would provide more information about this case in his next report to the Council.

President Meron noted that several of the delays that he reported and the inability to complete all ICTY judicial work by the end of 2014 were “directly attributable to factors outside the case management process, and reflect the inherent uncertainty in predicting the time needed to complete judgements in highly complex cases”. In addition, the President stressed the impact of the unique circumstances of the Tribunal, “which is located thousands of kilometres from the scene of alleged crimes, required to translate a myriad of documents into multiple languages, and called to handle volumes of evidence that are almost unheard of in domestic criminal prosecutions.” He added that, despite these and other challenges, the Tribunal is making every effort to ensure that forecast completion dates for cases remain on schedule.

Noting that the terms of office of all of the ICTY Judges expire at the end of this month, the President referred to his recent requests to the Council for extensions of the Judges’ terms of office through the period in which their last trial or appeal is expected. He underscored that in making such requests he was “guided by consideration of efficiency and maximum transparency. And indeed extensions that correspond to the lengths of the judicial proceedings on which the Judges are engaged will bolster the Tribunal and also reduce demands on the Security Council’s valuable time.”

The President also shared with the Council certain reflections based on his recent visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Conversations during my visit … underscored for me that the Tribunal’s work, important though it is, cannot address all the needs of the region. Instead, the international community needs to support additional, complementary initiatives which provide for reconciliation through dialogue and restitution,” President Meron said. In particular, the President urged Member States to back efforts to provide reparations and support to victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

The President concluded his address by telling the Council that he hoped his “frank discussion of delays, challenges, and potential future risks does not give an unnecessarily negative impression of the Tribunal.” President Meron assured the Council that the staff and judges of the Tribunal “remain fiercely committed to completing trials and appeals efficiently and in accordance with the highest standards of procedural fairness.”