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President Pocar’s Address Before the Security Council

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

The Hague, 4 June 2008

President Pocar’s Address Before the Security Council

In his address today to the UN Security Council, the Tribunal’s President, Judge Fausto Pocar, highlighted the organisation’s successes and key challenges ahead as part of his report on the status of the Tribunal’s completion strategy.

President Pocar emphasised the groundbreaking contribution of the Tribunal’s jurisprudence to the development of international criminal law, noting that it is used not only by other international criminal jurisdictions but also by mixed and domestic criminal courts. The President further highlighted the invaluable contribution made by the Tribunal in training an entire generation of legal professionals in the management of international criminal jurisdictions and complex war crimes cases.

President Pocar extolled the steps taken to streamline procedures to ensure both the timely completion of the Tribunal’s mandate and to uphold the core right of the accused to a fair and expeditious trial. As a result, the Tribunal is now simultaneously conducting eight trials involving 28 accused, the highest number since its inception. The President added that all but two trials will have commenced by the year’s end and all but three will be completed by the end of 2009. He further explained that two of the outstanding cases are necessary only because of the late arrests of the accused.

Alongside such successes, however, the President highlighted several key challenges facing the Tribunal and the international community as a whole.

First, the President underscored the importance of retaining the Tribunal’s best staff until its work has been completed. To this end, the President asked the Security Council and Member States to assist in providing and developing a system of benefits and other incentives adequate to keep hold of key staff members. The President also placed particular emphasis on the need to resolve the legal entitlement of the Tribunal’s Judges to receive pensions in full parity with the Judges of the International Court of Justice.

Second, the President noted the progress in the development of judicial institutions in the former Yugoslavia and their enhanced collaboration with the Tribunal. The President stressed, however, that this progress remained fragile and that it would be a serious miscalculation on the part of the international community to neglect domestic justice institutions in the region. The President emphasized that with thousands of war crimes cases pending before the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina alone, the Tribunal’s Completion Strategy should in fact be understood as a strategy for the continuation by domestic actors of those activities that were initiated by the ICTY, as mandated by the Security Council.

As part of this broader concern about domestic justice in the former Yugoslavia, the President drew attention to existing needs with respect to detention facilities and the training of prison and police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The extent of these needs was sadly demonstrated by the escape of Radovan Stanković from the Foča prison less than two months after his conviction for systematic rape, torture, and the enslavement of women. The President lamented the Republika Srpska’s continued failure to apprehend Stanković more than a year after his escape.

The third challenge highlighted by the President concerns the continued fugitive status of Karadzić, Mladić, Župljanin, and Hadžić. The President asserted that the Tribunal shall not close its doors before all four fugitives are tried and urged the Security Council to make clear that the trial of these accused by the international community does not hinge upon the Tribunal’s proposed Completion Strategy dates.

The President also stressed that the duty of the international community to cooperate with the Tribunal goes well beyond the arrest of the remaining fugitives, and expressed his disappointment at the failure of Serbia to provide adequate and diligent assistance in serving a summons for a key witness in one of the Tribunal’s ongoing trials.

Finally, the President addressed the issue of the Tribunal’s legacy. Apart from the ongoing discussions with members of the Security Council Working Group, the President emphasized two key projects initiated with outside institutions: The first with the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) to produce a compilation of the Tribunal’s best practices, and the second with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to assess the impact of Tribunal outreach activities and training programs with a view to identifying best practices and what remains to be achieved to guarantee lasting impact.

The President thanked the Security Council for its backing and urged the Council to continue supporting not just the Tribunal, but also the domestic judiciaries that are critical to ensuring that the rule of law is embedded in the societies of the former Yugoslavia.

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The full text of the President's speech can be found on the Tribunal’s website at:

    In English: http://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/2008/pr1258e-annex.htm

    In French: http://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/2008/pr1258f-annex.htm

The full report of the Completion Strategy Assessment can be found on the Tribunal’s website at:
    In English: http://www.un.org/icty/publications-e/assessments/documents/2008-    326eng.pdf

    In French: http://www.un.org/icty/publications-f/assessments/documents/2008-    326fre.pdf

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