Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Mark Simonoff
Minister Counselor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 6, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President.

I would like to thank President Meron and Prosecutor Brammertz for their informative briefings.

The United States would like to begin by recognizing President Meron. He has led the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals since 2012, overseeing the assumption of responsibilities from the tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. President Meron’s efforts, through his leadership of the Mechanism, have helped ensure that victims of horrific atrocities addressed by the ICTR and ICTY receive meaningful measures of justice, and he has done so while running a lean, efficient operation.

The volume of work that the Mechanism conducts is impressive, given its lean operations. For example, 253 judicial decisions and orders issued in this past reporting period alone, in addition to an ongoing trial in the Stanisic and Simatovic case, ongoing appeal proceedings in the Karadzic and Mladic cases, and a preparation for appeals in the Ngirabatware case.

We would also like to recognize the work of Prosecutor Brammertz. In particular, we commend his office’s continued efforts in managing trials and appeals cases, as well as the renewed focus on the tracking unit activities to apprehend and locate remaining fugitives. We also appreciate the ongoing efforts to provide assistance to national war crimes prosecutions, encourage regional judicial cooperation, and support reconciliation, all of which build on the legacy of accountability established by the Tribunals.

With regard to the future, we urge the Mechanism to continue to implement the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, as described in its report issued in March of this year. It is important to note that the OIOS concluded that the Mechanism had “achieved much of what the Security Council envisaged” in Resolution 1966. The Mechanism took advantage of operational innovations to streamline its work further. Implementation of the OIOS recommendations will help the Mechanism become even more efficient and effective at continuing to achieve its mandate. We also welcome the revision of the Code of Professional Conduct for the Judges of the Mechanism to include a disciplinary mechanism.

We encourage the Mechanism to consider proposals to respond to concerns raised by some States about the early release regime. We note that some individuals who have been released early have subsequently denied responsibility for their crimes, and we share the concern that this denial undermines the fight against impunity. We recognize and encourage the practice of consulting with concerned States about the early release regime.

In the former Yugoslavia, we welcome the Prosecutor’s report of productive cooperation between Bosnia and Serbia on transferred cases. At the same time, we are concerned about the Prosecutor’s report that Croatian authorities are not engaging in a similar way, as well as the report of a breakdown in cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia regarding war crimes prosecutions.

We again highlight that although the ICTY may have closed last December, the pursuit of justice for atrocities related to the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia is not over. There are many hundreds of cases currently in the hands of national authorities in the region, and we call on all of the governments concerned to credibly investigate and prosecute, or otherwise resolve these cases, cooperating with one another and the Mechanism to that end.

The United States also remains concerned about the government of Serbia’s failure to execute the three arrest warrants for individuals charged with contempt of court in relation to witness intimidation in the case of Vojislav Šešelj. We continue to encourage Serbia to fulfill its obligations, including with respect to cooperation with the Mechanism.

The United States urges all states to undertake efforts to arrest and surrender the eight remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR as soon as possible. The United States continues to offer up to $5 million for information leading to their arrest.

The work of the Mechanism, like that of the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia tribunals previously, reminds us that in the face of terrible atrocities, we can work together to hold perpetrators accountable and to achieve a measure of justice for victims. We look forward to continuing to support the Mechanism and the fight against impunity.

Thank you, Mr. President.