Remarks at a UN General Assembly Debate on the Report of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Andrew Weinstein
Public Delegate
New York, New York
October 19, 2022


President Korosi, President Gatti Santana, thank you very much for this briefing on the ongoing work of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals to bring perpetrators to justice for atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

First, we want to warmly welcome the appointment of Judge Gatti Santana as the President of the IRMCT. We look forward to her leadership of this important institution. We also express our thanks to Judge Agius for his years of service as the President of the Court and his continuing dedication to its work in his role as a Judge.

The Mechanism’s activities and accomplishments over the past year are truly commendable. With each fugitive apprehended, prosecution completed, and appeal adjudicated, this Mechanism is supporting the goals the Security Council set out at its establishment. Last month’s opening of the trial of Félicien Kabuga, alleged financier of the Rwandan genocide, marked a milestone for the Mechanism. Although Kabuga eluded capture for years, his arrest and the commencement of his trial gives hope to victims of the genocide who have waited so long for him to be brought to justice.

The United States fully supports the priorities the Office of the Prosecutor continues to pursue, including the expeditious completion of trials and appeals, locating and arresting the remaining fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and assisting national jurisdictions prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Mechanism has taken significant action on cases that move us closer to these collective objectives.

In addition to the opening of the Kabuga trial, we welcome the recent delivery of the appeal judgment in the Fatuma contempt case in Arusha. We look forward to the expeditious conclusion of the appeal in the Stanisic and Simatovic case by next summer.

While the Mechanism and its predecessors have done so much to establish the facts and clarify the historical record of atrocity crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, national authorities must carry on with the important work of reconciliation and healing. Strong countries speak honestly about the past, even when it is painful, to meaningfully address the root causes of conflict and move forward into a peaceful, stable future. We welcome President Gatti Santana’s comments on the anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica that “you cannot achieve a meaningful reconciliation if you don’t consider the truth – you cannot forget what happened.”

We know that the atrocity crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were not accidental or unavoidable but were the result of deliberate choices by those in power to unleash terrible violence against innocent civilians. The denial of historical facts and the celebration of those who have committed grave crimes is an affront to the victims and witnesses who have courageously come forward to tell their stories and an insult to our common humanity.

Taken together, these judicial actions move us closer to securing justice for the victims of these horrific crimes, for their families and communities, and for their countries. Additional steps can – and should – be taken today in the name of justice and prevention of future atrocities. This includes the swift apprehension of the remaining Rwandan fugitives. We call on Member States that may be harboring them to cooperate with the investigation.

As long as some continue to engage in the dangerous fiction of genocide denial, we risk recurrences of these horrific crimes. We must confront false narratives and uncover the truth, however painful, about how the normalization of hatred and persecution of certain groups led to tragic consequences in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

We welcome the Mechanism’s ongoing engagement with the affected countries, and we encourage these national jurisdictions to vigorously pursue accountability for atrocity crimes. We also thank the IRMCT for its significant work responding to national authorities’ requests for assistance. In this way, the IRMCT has continued to play a critical role in facilitating the rule of law globally.

We thank the IRMCT judges and staff for their tireless engagement over the past year to ensure an efficient, thorough, and sound legal process in each of these cases. There is undoubtedly more work to be done, but each of these steps moves us closer to honoring the victims’ memories.

Thank you.