Remarks at UN General Assembly Debate and Briefing on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

T.H. Mr. Sim Farar
U.S. Representative to the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly Hall, New York, New York
October 20, 2021


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

At the outset, we would again like to extend our sincere condolences to the IRMCT and Burkina Faso on the passing of Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam earlier this year, who served with distinction in his pursuit of accountability. We welcome Fatimata Sanou Toure in his stead.

The IRMCT’s activities and accomplishments over the past year are truly commendable – and all in the face of significant COVID restrictions. With each fugitive apprehended, prosecution completed, and appeal upheld, this Mechanism is supporting the goals the Security Council set out at its establishment. We agree with the Security Council’s vision of the IRMCT as a small, temporary, and efficient body whose functions diminish over time.

The United States fully supports the priorities of 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 IRMCT has taken significant action on cases that move us closer to these collective objectives. First, as President Biden stated, the decision affirming Ratko Mladic’s conviction shows that those who commit horrific crimes will be held accountable, and it reinforces our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world. We are grateful for the years of work by the

International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in carrying out justice in this case.

Second, we commend the thorough work of the court in Stanisic and Simatovic case. The first conviction of high-ranking officials from the 1990s wartime government in Serbia for crimes committed in a neighboring country is a notable accomplishment.

Third, the four convictions for witness interference in the Nzabonimpa et al. contempt case send an important signal to others who may be contemplating similar actions that much intimidation will not be tolerated.

We welcome the Mechanism’s embrace of the recommendations from the 2020 OIOS progress and process regarding additional streamlining of resources and internal coordination. We continue to offer a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of the remaining Rwandan fugitives.

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 six Rwandan fugitives. We call on Member States who may be harboring them to cooperate with the investigation.

The United States also has serious concerns with Serbia’s non-cooperation on the arrest warrants for Jojic and Radeta, who have been charged with witness interference. We reiterate that contempt cases are a critical aspect of the Mechanism’s work and play an important role in ensuring the rule of law. Serbia has a legal obligation to cooperate with the Mechanism and shall we call on it to execute the arrest warrants without further delay.

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 IRMCT’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, their 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 and saying “Never Again.” Thank you.