Security Council Debate: International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 6 June 2018

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

First, let me thank President Meron and Prosecutor Brammertz of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, for their briefings and for their comprehensive report.

We also wish to thank Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru, for his leadership of this Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals.

Mr. President, after twenty-four years of service the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia completed its mandate and closed its doors last December. The Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to express its sincere gratitude to all those who worked for and with the ICTY.

That court was in many aspects unique and ground-breaking.

Unique in its contribution to international criminal justice case law. Unique concerning prosecution of sexual violence in war crime. And unique in convicting so many people accused of atrocity crimes.

The closure of ICTR in 2015 and ICTY in 2017 marked the end of an era. We are now moving from the early stages of justice in Rwanda and the Balkans to a more matured stage – but a lot of work still has to be done. In this respect we are grateful that the mechanism has now assumed the responsibilities and all remaining functions from both the ICTY and ICTR.

Mr. President, I will focus three issues today:

  • The judicial workload of the Mechanism;
  • The issue of capacity building;
  • Early release policy.

1. Judicial workload of the Mechanism

Mr. President, my first point: the judicial workload of the Mechanism, which is higher than anticipated beforehand. We note with satisfaction that the three cases on the docket of the Mechanism are nonetheless all ahead of schedule.

The working methods implemented by the Mechanism have enabled the judges to expeditiously render judgements in the smaller legal proceedings. We fully support these efficient working methods and we encourage the Mechanism to continue on this road.

2. The issue of capacity building

Turning to my second point, Mr. President: Capacity building and outreach activities by the Prosecutor.

We fully support the three priorities of the Prosecutor:

  1. To complete all trials and appeals expeditiously,
  2. To locate and arrest the eight remaining fugitives, and
  3. To assist national jurisdictions prosecuting international crimes.

We would like to underline the importance of specifically the last priority. With the closure of both ICTY and ICTR, ensuring accountability for war crimes in the countries involved now entirely depends on national judicial authorities.

It is of the utmost importance that these national judicial authorities are assisted, supported and advised in prosecuting war crimes. And we encourage the Prosecutor to continue these very important activities.

3. Early release policy

Mr. President, On my third point, Mr. President: early release policy, we take note of the current discussion.

In this regard, we acknowledge and underline the authority given to the Mechanism’s President by the Statute of the Mechanism in this regard.

The International legal order, and the rule of law, require the international community to respect and implement judicial decisions taken by the Mechanism in accordance with the Statute.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Mr. President, the Netherlands proudly hosted ICTY in The Hague. And we are now proud to host the Mechanism there as well, including many other international legal institutions.

The quality of these international legal institutions is determined by the quality of their staff members and the quality of their leadership. In our view, therefore prudent and careful following of relevant decision-making procedures is crucial when appointing those leading these institutions. This in particular also applies to the role of this Council in this regard.

Mr. President, our constitution obliges our government to promote and protect the international legal order. And international criminal justice is a key element of that.

Let me once again commend the Prosecutor Mr. Brammertz and his team for all their hard work in this regard. And to President Meron: let me also thank you for your statement two weeks ago in this Council. Especially your personal note moved my delegation and was quite compelling.

We share your concerns that international criminal justice is still very much in its early stages. International criminal justice is in a highly vulnerable stage of development at present.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands remains determined to fight impunity and to ensure that justice for victims of international crimes worldwide will be done. 

And we will continue to protect and promote the international legal order. And we will continue to do our utmost for international criminal justice.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

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