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President Pocar’s Address before the United Nations General Assembly

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

The Hague, 13 October 2008

Addressing the UN General Assembly at the occasion of the presentation of the Tribunal’s fifteenth annual report, the President of the Tribunal, Judge Fausto Pocar emphasized the extensive successes of the ICTY, and the importance of Member States’ continued support in ensuring the full completion of the Tribunal’s mission.

The President highlighted that while the Tribunal’s success had been primarily assessed within the framework of the completion strategy endorsed by Security Council Resolutions 1503 and 1534, the completion of the cases on its docket was only part of the Tribunal’s mission. He emphasized that the Tribunal’s ultimate goal was to ensure that the fight against impunity would continue to remain a priority for the international community and that domestic partners, in particular in the former Yugoslavia, would continue to be assisted in bringing those responsible for serious international crimes to justice.

The President recalled the unparalleled accomplishments of the Tribunal, particularly, its record productivity; its unequalled role in the consolidation and development of international criminal law; and its contribution to peace and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. He stated, however, that in order to fulfill its mission and ensure that its achievements are not undermined, the Tribunal still needed the essential support of Member States on three fronts: the completion of the cases on its docket, the arrest of fugitives and support to domestic institutions in the former Yugoslavia.

The President reported that at this time, 116 of the 161 individuals indicted by the Office of the Prosecutor had had their cases completed and that proceedings had started for all of the 43 remaining indictees, except for the two remaining fugitives. Figures show that 22 individuals are currently on trial, six are awaiting the delivery of their trial judgement, 10 are on appeal, and five are expecting the imminent start of their trial, including four who were only arrested in recent months. While, as detailed in the report, continuing efforts were made to expedite proceedings in full compliance with the rights of the accused to a fair trial, the President raised two issues which were likely to impact the expeditious completion of proceedings. One was the continued discrimination suffered by Judges of the Tribunal in the calculation of their pension entitlements, which, if not resolved favourably, would have a detrimental impact on the expeditious completion of cases. The President thus called on the General Assembly to put an end to the existing disparity in the pension entitlements of the permanent Judges by endorsing the recommendations made in the consulting firm’s study commissioned by the Secretariat. The President also urged the General Assembly to support measures for the retention of the Tribunal’s staff, without whom the work of the Tribunal cannot proceed, and to provide training and career counseling so as to enhance staff career prospects as the Tribunal’s work progressively winds down.

Turning to the second issue, the duty of states to cooperate with the Tribunal, the President commended the Government of Serbia for its vital cooperation in the arrests of both Stojan Župljanin and Radovan Karadžić earlier this year, noting that this was a crucial step towards the completion of the Tribunal’s cases. The President emphasized, however, the continued need for states to secure the rapid arrest of remaining fugitives Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić and to comply with their obligations to cooperate with the Tribunal in accordance with article 29 of the Statute. The President warned that the late arrests of fugitives was necessarily impacting on the completion of the Tribunal’s work and was contributing to slippages in the expeditious conduct of its proceedings.

President Fausto Pocar finally addressed the third and equally important area in which continued support by members of the Assembly is critical, the legacy of the Tribunal and the continuation of its work by domestic courts in the former Yugoslavia. The President emphasized that if the international community’s investment in international justice were to reap its full rewards, Member States must continue to support domestic institutions in the former Yugoslavia. He recalled that in addition to the 13 cases referred by the Tribunal to these domestic courts, thousands of war crimes cases were still pending before these courts. The President noted that while the Tribunal had continued to strengthen its partnership with these domestic institutions and while progress had been accomplished in strengthening the rule of law, these achievements remained extremely fragile. Political hurdles in relation to the extradition of nationals had not yet been resolved and dire needs still existed, for instance, with respect to correctional institutions, as illustrated by the escape from prison of Radovan Stanković, whose case had been referred by the Tribunal to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

President Pocar also reported that the Tribunal had initiated several projects with a view to ensuring the legacy of its work. The first project, carried out in cooperation with the UN Interregional Criminal Research Institute will lead to the publication of a manual of the Tribunal’s best practices. The second project conducted in partnership with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) aims to assess the impact of the Tribunal’s outreach activities and training programs so as to identify best practices and remaining issues that need addressing so as to ensure the lasting impact of the Tribunal’s work.

Recalling the pioneering role of the Tribunal and its contribution to the development of international criminal justice, the President thanked the Members of the General Assembly for its unfailing commitment to the Tribunal. He concluded with a call to all Member States to maintain their support to the work of the Tribunal so that it can expeditiously complete its cases, and ensure that domestic institutions, particularly in the former Yugoslavia, carry on its fight against impunity and guarantee its long lasting legacy.


The full text of the President's speech

The annual report: English / French

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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