Shutting Down War Crimes Tribunal Prematurely? by Ambassador mo

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Driven by desire to move Mladic's and Belgrade's continued evasion of justice and by the embarrassment to western democracies in their failure to apprehend, the UN Security Council is moving to shut down the ICTY ("Yugoslav Tribunal"). Some states, as Japan, were also focused on money, the cost of running the ICTY.The Tribunal has become an inconvenience, simply stated, even when it has yet to deliver justice and even bring before the Court the most notorious symbol of the genocide and other grave violations of international humanitarian law of the end of the last century, indicted Serbian General Ratko Mladic.

It is ironic that this step was taken while Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) is on the UN Security Council. However, BiH has been overmatched, from bigger capitals and even the desire from within its own borders to see the War Crimes Tribunal disappear. Shutting down the ICTY also is schemed by some to get Mladic/Belgrade off the agenda of the United Nations and the international media/community.

This certainly will make Mladic's arrest more difficult. It will make delivering justice near impossible and the intended and actual targets of Mladic's "ethnic cleansing" campaign will feel neither closure nor peace. (Mladic's crimes go well beyond and before Srebrenica and Zepa).

It may not be an entirely coincidental result of prematurely shutting down the ICTY, that without Mladic as a defendant actually before an international tribunal, the evidence of the acquiescence of at least some big power officials is significantly less likely to be brought to further light. Sorry, but Courts within Bosnia and the region are less likely to have the courage to try to compel/bring out such evidence, (or even if it did start to seep out from such local proceedings, for it to be given appropriate media attention and weight in international bodies, such as the UN).

CONVENIENT to HAVE TRIBUNAL DISAPPEAR for Belgrade but also most "big power" capitals:
Not bringing Mladic before the International War Crimes Tribunal is an end result that satisfies many in Belgrade but also Moscow, London, Paris, Washington and probably more, even as it leaves BiH and particularly its victims once again not receiving even the minimum expected. No desire here to broadly encompass all of these capitals in this implicit accusation of complicity with evading their own accountability as well as denial of justice. However, they leave themselves open to such suspicion, as the burden must be on them to deliver Mladic and justice, (as envisioned by the original mandate for the ICTY in 1992-93), rather than placing burden upon victims. The preaching regarding the "rule of law" has to be viewed dubiously and the implications for still vulnerable local legal institutions is dangerous. Those of us, (as Ambassador Madeline Albright, Ambassador Diego Arria, Professor Cherif Bassiouni and I), who in 1992-93 worked to overcome and bring about the unprecedented reality of the ICTY certainly had the right to expect that the ICTY would reach a more honorable passing and be more satisfying in delivering justice for the victims, the rule of law for now and history for future generations looking to avoid mistakes of the past.

Perhaps the only real hope now is the possibility that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may evolve to play a bigger role in completing the work of the ICTY. Ironically, the ICC was realized in large part due to the precedent of the ICTY. It is limited in jurisdiction to the period after its establishment, (2004), and thus the 1992-95 events would appear beyond its mandate. However, the ICC is not necessarily limited by the UN Security Council, and legally, the "genocide" and grave violations initiated in 1992-1995 continue even till now as those crimes are perpetuated even today, at least through schemes systematic and not, to consolidate the fruits of the original crime.
by Amb. Muhamed Sacirbey

Link to film reports at

including with David Harland, (author "UN Srebrenica Report") - "New Inquiry on Srebrenica Genocide"
"Fruits of Genocide"-

Potential role of ICC:

Mladic is in Serbia/Responsibility for Failure to Arrest is in Washington & Europe by Ambassador mo -

Security Council sets up new body to finish work of UN war crimes tribunals

22 December 2010 – The Security Council today set up a new body to finish the remaining tasks of the United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, while calling on the courts to conclude their work by the end of 2014.

By a vote of 14 in favour, with one abstention (Russia), the Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with two branches.

The Mechanism’s branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will begin functioning on 1 July 2012, while the branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will commence on 1 July 2013.

To ensure a smooth transition to the Mechanism, the Council requested both tribunals to take “all possible measures” to expeditiously complete all their remaining work no later than 31 December 2014.

Under the so-called “completion strategy,” the tribunals were supposed to complete investigations by the end of 2004, all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and all work in 2010.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Russia abstained during the vote because it believed the tribunals had “every opportunity” to complete their work by the dates that had been previously agreed. “We firmly believe that today’s resolution is the last on the issue of the duration of activity of the tribunals and that they will be fully wound up by the end of 2014,” he added.

Several Council members welcomed the action, saying it sent a strong message against impunity and that it will help to preserve the legacy of the two tribunals.

By the resolution, the Council decided that all States “shall cooperate fully” with the Mechanism, and urged countries in which fugitives are suspected to be at large to further intensify their cooperation with the tribunals and the Mechanism.

It also urged the tribunals and the Mechanism to make every effort to refer cases not involving those most responsible for crimes to competent national jurisdictions.

The location of the two branches of the Mechanism will be subject to the conclusion of appropriate arrangements between the UN and host countries, and acceptance by the Security Council.

Since its inception 17 years ago, the ICTY, which is based in The Hague, has indicted 161 persons for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The proceedings against 125 individuals have been completed, with only two indictees remaining at large – Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic.

Meanwhile, 10 fugitives wanted by the ICTR, which was created in 1994 in the wake of the Rwandan genocide and located in Arusha, Tanzania, still remain at large.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Extensions granted to judges serving on UN war crimes tribunals

About the author


"Voice of the Global Citizen"- Diplomatically Incorrect ( provide film and written reports on issues reflecting diplomatic discourse and the global citizen. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (@MuhamedSacirbey) is former Foreign Minister Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina at the United Nations. "Mo" is also signatory of the Rome Conference/Treaty establishing the International…

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