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

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 13, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. President Agius, Prosecutor Brammertz, thank you for your briefings on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’ ongoing work to bring perpetrators to justice for the atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

The United States remains deeply grateful for the commitment and the hard work of the judges, the attorneys, the staff in Arusha and The Hague, as well as in field offices in Kigali and Sarajevo, despite numerous challenges over the past year. We commend your unwavering pursuit of justice for the victims in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

We join others also in expressing the U.S.’s deep appreciation for the long and distinguished service of Judge Theodor Meron who has retired from the roster of Mechanism judges. Judge Meron’s efforts to provide justice and accountability for victims for some of humanity’s worst atrocities will always be remembered.

Mr. President, the Mechanism has continued to make important progress over the reporting period, despite the persistent impact of significant COVID restrictions. We commend its continued commitment to fulfill the goals the Security Council set out for the Mechanism at its establishment as a lean, temporary and efficient body. We appreciate the ongoing efforts to expeditiously complete remaining trials and appeals, to locate and arrest the remaining fugitives indicted by the ICT for Rwanda and assist national jurisdictions prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The Mechanism has taken significant steps to realize these collective objectives over the past year, and we are grateful for the years of work by the Mechanism in carrying out justice. This work has clearly manifested itself through several achievements including the decision affirming Ratko Mladic’s conviction; the thorough work of the Mechanism in the Stanisic and Simatovic cases; and, the four convictions for witness interference in the Nzabonimpa et al. contempt case. 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.

Still, we can and must do more to prevent future atrocities and realize the ideals of justice. This includes the swift apprehension of the remaining six Rwandan fugitives. We join others in calling on Member States who may be harboring them to cooperate with the investigation. The United States continues to offer a reward of up to $5 million dollars for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of the remaining Rwandan fugitives.

In addition, the United States continues to have serious concerns with Serbia’s non-cooperation on the arrest warrants for Jojic and Radeta, who have been charged with witness interference. Serbia has a legal obligation to cooperate with the Mechanism and we call on it to execute the arrest warrants without further delay. Contempt cases are a critical aspect of the Mechanism’s work and are equally deserving of our attention in order to uphold the rule of law.

We also note that as long as some continue to engage in the dangerous fiction of genocide denial, to protect memorials that honor those responsible for genocide and other crimes, and to stoke ethnic division, we risk recurrences of these horrific crimes. A critical part of the efforts to ensure non-recurrence is the full recognition within domestic systems of international convictions.

We welcome the Mechanism’s ongoing engagement with the affected countries and we encourage these national jurisdictions to vigorously pursue accountability for atrocity crimes in order to move beyond the dark and dangerous days of the past. We further encourage these national jurisdictions to explore opportunities for cooperation with one another to make justice a reality.

Mr. President let me conclude by welcoming the news of the announcement we heard today of the transfer agreement between the Republic of Niger and the UN. This is a significant, positive step that the U.S. welcomes and commends. I also want to take moment to commend the work of the Mechanism Registrar for his commitment and dedication to achieving this.

The tireless work of the Mechanism serves as an important reminder to us all that we must re-commit to protecting civilians during armed conflict and to holding those who commit atrocity crimes accountable. Each of these steps moves us closer to properly and fully honoring the victims’ memories. Thank you, Mr. President.