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President Robinson’s Address Before the United Nations General Assembly

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

The Hague, 8 October 2009

President Robinson’s Address Before the United Nations General Assembly

ICTY President Robinson addressing the UN General Assembly

President Patrick Robinson today presented the Tribunal’s sixteenth annual report to the UN General Assembly. In his address, the President updated Member States on the achievements of the Tribunal in the past year and the challenges it faces in ensuring the successful completion of its mandate.

President Robinson expressed gratitude to the members of the Assembly for the support given to the Tribunal over the past 16 years, emphasizing that this support remained essential for the timely completion of the institution’s work.

“The Tribunal’s commitment to its completion strategy remains steadfast,” President Robinson said, highlighting that three appeal judgements and three trial judgements were rendered during the reporting period. This brings the number of cases fully completed by the Tribunal to 86 encompassing 120 accused.

The President further informed the General Assembly of the estimates for the completion of the Tribunal’s current caseload. All but four trials are expected to conclude in 2010 with three finishing in early 2011 and the final trial, that of Radovan Karadžić, ending in early 2012. All appellate proceedings are expected to conclude by mid-2013.

Turning to the issue of the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, President Robinson urged the Member States to do all they can to ensure they are arrested and brought into the Tribunal’s custody before the end of its mandate:  “If they are not brought to justice, it will leave a stain on the historic contribution of the United Nations to peace-building in the former Yugoslavia. I urge Member States to do all within their power to ensure the apprehension of these fugitives as a matter of urgency.”

The President also reported on the Tribunal’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of local jurisdictions and cement its legacy across the region of the former Yugoslavia thereby contributing to the maintenance of peace and security in the region. Two projects initiated by the Tribunal last year as part of these efforts have now been completed.

A manual on the Tribunal’s best practices was launched in May of this year, and a report on best practices, lessons learned and remaining gaps in capacity building was presented in September. The President also spoke about the Tribunal’s deepening cooperation with other international institutions in ensuring that national justice systems in the region have the capacity to handle their growing war crimes caseload. Furthermore, he praised the Office of the Prosecutor’s efforts to build strong partnerships with its counterparts in the region.

President Robinson also used the opportunity to raise an issue of particular importance before the General Assembly: that of compensating victims of crimes in the former Yugoslavia as a means of complementing the Tribunal’s efforts to contribute to long-term peace and stability in the region. Calling upon the Assembly to support the establishment of a claims commission, President Robinson said: “I must agree that the international community has forgotten [the victims].  Currently, there is no effective mechanism by which victims can seek compensation for their injuries, despite the fact that their right to such compensation is firmly rooted in international law.” He added that “justice is not only about punishing perpetrators but also about restoring dignity to victims by ensuring that they have concrete means to rebuild their lives”.

On the issue of staff retention, the President thanked the General Assembly for adopting measures allowing the Tribunal to offer contracts to staff, in line with the dates of planned post reductions and in accordance with trial schedules. President Robinson however repeated that this was not enough to reduce the rate at which staff has been leaving the Tribunal. He urged Member States to take further supportive action to retain the Tribunal’s highly qualified staff, which is essential for orderly completion of its work.

In conclusion, the President recalled the Tribunal’s pioneering work and achievements in international criminal justice and urged the General Assembly to assist the Tribunal in completing its work in a successful and rational manner.  He also called for continued support to national institutions in the former Yugoslavia so that they can continue the Tribunal’s mission to fight impunity.


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

The annual report can be found on the Tribunal’s website. EnglishFrench

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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