Remarks at a UN General Assembly Debate on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (via VTC)

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 21, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President and let me virtually express my appreciation as well for the briefing from President Agius that we just heard. We are very grateful in the United States for his hard work and the unwavering commitment of all the judges, attorneys, and staff in Arusha and The Hague, as well as in the field offices in Kigali and Sarajevo, to the pursuit of justice for the victims in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

I appreciated the President’s mention of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Accords. This is an opportune time to reflect on the Accords. We must never forget the commitments made in Dayton regarding justice, and we must ensure that the Mechanism is able to complete its vital work delivering justice and accountability to survivors.

The United States was very pleased to hear that despite the ongoing impacts of the COVID pandemic that affect all of us every day, the Mechanism has been able to carry out its important work and deliver results. We join others in commending the judges for their ability to adapt to these trying circumstances and to avoid serious delays in the judicial proceedings.

The United States also wants to congratulate the Mechanism and France on the recent arrest of the Rwandan businessman, Félicien Kabuga, who was indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law.

Kabuga’s arrest, after being at large for 26 years, demonstrates the continued relevance of the Mechanism and the importance of its work. We support the Mechanism’s efforts to ensure justice for Kabuga’s alleged role in the horrific acts perpetrated in Rwanda.

The United States further thanks the Mechanism for confirming the death of long-time fugitive Augustin Bizimana. We will continue to support the Mechanism’s efforts to apprehend the remaining six Rwandans still wanted for their roles in the 1994 genocide. The United States continues to offer rewards of up to five million U.S. dollars for information that will lead to the arrest, transfer, or the conviction of any of these remaining fugitives. We strongly urge all countries to cooperate fully with the Mechanism and bring these people, wanted for horrific atrocities, to justice.

We were pleased as well that the Mechanism was able to hold a hearing in the Mladić appeal, and we hope the Mechanism will be able to proceed quickly, as the conclusion of that case will be an important moment for the victims. We welcome the Mechanism’s work to adjudicate General Mladić’s responsibility for grave crimes committed during the war.

Similarly, the United States acknowledges progress on the retrial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their alleged roles in the unlawful, forcible removal of non-Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

With regard to the contempt proceedings in the Turinabo et al, and Jojic and Radeta cases, let us reaffirm that attempts to interfere with witnesses or otherwise undermine judicial proceedings are a grave threat to the rule of law and they must be dealt with seriously. We understand that the ongoing pandemic complicates this matter, but we do hope that these ongoing cases are completed early in 2021.

Mr. President, we were happy to participate in the negotiation of Security Council Resolution 2529, concluding the Council’s review of the Tribunal’s work for the past two years, and we want to thank Vietnam for its skillful handling of this review. We also want to welcome the appointment of the new Mechanism Registrar, Mr. Tambadou. We are very confident that he will contribute significantly to the effectiveness and the efficiency of the Mechanism’s work.

While the Mechanism continues to contribute to the documentation and redress of the crimes that are within its purview, it is deeply troubling to hear the Prosecutor’s continuing reports of ongoing challenge of genocide denial and the non-acceptance of historical truths in both Rwanda and Bosnia.

Let me end by saying when we consider the hope and the promise that was laid forth with the Dayton Accords 25 years ago, one thing is clear: While we cannot bring back those whose lives were lost, we can pursue justice for them and their loved ones and respond forcefully when leaders seek to turn certain populations into scapegoats or to deny historical facts. The Mechanism has and continues to be an important part of this work and the United States continues to support its efforts on behalf of victims.

Thank you, Mr. President.