(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The President of The International Tribunal addresses The United Nations' General Assembly
Addressing earlier today the United Nations’ General Assembly, Judge Antonio Cassese, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), assured the representatives of the Member States that "over the next four years, the Hague Tribunal will continue to strive, with unshakeable resolve, to render justice"; urged them to lend to it "all the support it is entitled to receive"; and begged them "to continue to heed the cries of the victims of barbarity and allow this pioneering dispensation of international justice to become the hallmark of the new international community".
The ICTY is an "extraordinary institution" and a "stupendous enterprise", said President Cassese who is in New York on the occasion of the presentation of the Fourth Annual Report of the Tribunal. This report covers the period August 1996-July 1997 but Judge Cassese took the opportunity of the end of the first four-year mandate of the Judges (1993-1997) and of his second and last term as President "to offer an insider’s appraisal of [the] successes and shortcomings since [the] establishment [of the Tribunal] in 1993".
"A mixed balance-sheet"
President Cassese stated that "the balance-sheet of the Hague Tribunal is a mixed one, with significant success tempered by some failings and much frustration, with elements of impressive progress counter-balanced and, indeed, hampered by unexpected difficulties".
Outlining the achievements of the Tribunal, its President said that "beginning from nothing, hundreds of dedicated individuals have worked to create a fully functioning international criminal tribunal" which "had to overcome a series of hurdles (financial, logistical, legal and practical)" but which today is "a vibrant judicial body".
However, President Cassese went on to say that the Tribunal "faces the same problems today that [it has] struggled with over the last four years", and summed them up: "our most crucial and urgent problem is the need for more arrests of military and political leaders (....). The Office of the Prosecutor should be strengthened (...). We need three or four courtrooms....and we will need more Judges".
"An extraordinary exercise in international morality"
In concluding, President Cassese turned to the future and launched the following appeal to the United Nations’ Member States:
"Over the next four years, the Hague Tribunal will continue to strive, with unshakeable resolve, to render justice in spite of the numerous problems which hamper our effectiveness. In view of these obstacles, which I have touched upon in the course of this speech, I would like to urge all Member States to lend to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague all the support the Tribunal is entitled to receive. You have launched a stupendous enterprise, the importance of which probably will only be fully understood and appreciated in the next millennium. You have put an end to the culture of impunity, to the possibility of historical "amnesia" and have ruled out the immoral practice of passing laws granting amnesty to all culprits. You have determined that victims have a basic right to see their persecutors brought to justice. This is an enterprise to tame the savage heart of man and to make more gentle life on this planet - an enterprise worthy of a renewed United Nations and worthy of bearing fruit. I ask you to ensure that this extraordinary exercise in international morality and law be fully supported and yield lasting results. I beg you to continue to heed the cries of the victims of barbarity and allow this pioneering dispensation of international justice to become the hallmark of the new international community."
The full text of President Cassese’s address is available upon request at the Press and Information Office. It has also been released on the ICTY Internet Homepage:
Address of Antonio Cassese, 4 November 1997
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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