Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Debate on ICTY/ICTR
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Debate on ICTY/ICTR, 6 December 2017, New York.
I would like to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation for the comprehensive briefings and reports on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) by President Carmel Agius, President Theodor Meron and the Prosecutor Serge Brammertz.
As the ICTY concludes its work and we approach this closure, I would also like to take a moment to recognise the staff of ICTY for their invaluable contribution to international justice. We welcome the fact that the Tribunal has issued its judgements in the final trial case, regarding Ratko Mladić, concluded on November 22, and the final appeal case of Prlić et al. on the 29 November.
I also pay tribute to the commitment by President Agius to lead his team until the closing date. Finally, let me also express a special word of thanks to the Netherlands in its role as host country for the tribunal.
The establishment of the ICTY in the aftermath of the Yugoslav wars - the first war-crimes court established by the UN and the first war-crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals – signaled the Security Council and the international community's determination to end such crimes and to bring those responsible to justice. The ICTY was unique in being the first tribunal to address conflict related sexual violence, the first tribunal to consider violations against cultural heritage as a crime against humanity, and the first tribunal to indict a sitting head of state for war crimes. The legacy of the ICTY, together with the ICTR, is therefore not only the justice that they have brought to victims, but also their important contribution to the development of international criminal law.
There can be no lasting peace without justice. Ensuring that the perpetrators of atrocity crimes are held to account, either by international or national courts, is essential to rebuilding trust between communities and to national reconciliation.
As the Tribunal completes its work, it is our hope that national judicial systems will take up their responsibility to build on the legacy of the tribunal in order to contribute to reconciliation in the region. We note, with regret, that Serbia has not carried out the arrest and surrender orders issued by the Tribunal in January 2015.
We share the Prosecutor's deep concern about wide-spread denial of crimes and facts established by ICTY in relation to its cases. These issues have the potential to have real consequences for reconciliation on the Western Balkans. As the Prosecutor points out in his report, it is now more important than ever to address these issues. In this regard, we agree with the President that the Tribunal's creation of a historical record is a key part of its legacy.
We hope that the Council will be in a position to adopt a statement in connection with the closure of the ICTY by the end of the year, in order to recognise and highlight the substantial contribution of the tribunal to the achievement of justice for the atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia.
We welcome the handover to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals upon the closure of the ICTY.
We underline the importance of continued work by the MICT on victim and witness protection.
Finally, we are concerned that eight individuals indicted by the ICTR for serious crimes remain at large. We call on states to cooperate fully with the MICT for the speedy arrest of these individuals as well as on other matters where it can assist the Mechanism.
The international criminal tribunals have played an important role in acknowledging the wounds that remain after conflicts end, and by providing a means through which survivors of the worst crimes known to humanity can seek and find justice. In this process they have also strengthened the international legal framework; showing that despite the impunity we so regularly lament in this chamber, accountability is possible. Sweden will remain firmly committed to international criminal justice, and the MICT can be assured of our full support for its work.