Mechanism loses one of its staunchest supporters

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) joins the rest of United Nations in Tanzania, the diplomatic community in the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania) and the international community in conveying its deepest sympathy to the President of Tanzania, the people of Tanzania and the family of Dr. Augustine Mahiga, Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs of Tanzania following the latter's passing on Friday 1 May 2020.

Dr. Mahiga had a distinguished career in diplomacy and international relations, serving as Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation between 2015 and 2019. In 2010, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Dr. Mahiga as the United Nations Special Representative and Head of the UN Political Office for Somalia. Prior to this, Dr. Mahiga also served as Tanzania’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2003 to 2010.

The late minister played a key role in the work of the Mechanism and that of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). He was instrumental in discussions at the United Nations Security Council that led to the designation of the United Republic of Tanzania as the seat of the Mechanism. Dr. Mahiga was further instrumental in the construction of the Mechanism premises at Lakilaki in Arusha and was also influential in brokering the agreement for the Government of Tanzania to donate land and utilities for the Mechanism’s premises at no cost to the United Nations.

Dr. Mahiga’s support to the Mechanism was unwavering and continued throughout the construction of the Lakilaki premises and beyond. He was instrumental in ensuring that the Mechanism received the support it needed during its budget resubmission in 2019.

Many of the Mechanism’s Arusha staff members will remember that Dr. Mahiga, in his capacity as Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, attended the inauguration ceremony of the new Mechanism premises at Lakilaki alongside Tanzania’s Vice President, Her Excellency Honourable Samia Suluhu Hassan on 25 November 2016. Two years later, on 3 November 2018, when the Mechanism hosted the second Arusha International Organisations Open Day, Dr. Mahiga graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour.

In the Honourable Dr. Augustine Mahiga, the Mechanism, and its predecessor the ICTR, found a true friend. He was a bastion of support who worked tirelessly to ensure that these institutions of international criminal justice in the East Africa region felt rooted in Tanzania and were fully supported in the delivery of their respective mandates. The Mechanism will remember Dr. Mahiga as a true leader, a renowned diplomat and a veritable patriot.