IRMCT Principals mark the Day of International Criminal Justice, 17 July 2022

Arusha, The Hague
IRMCT Principals mark the Day of International Criminal Justice, 17 July 2022

On the occasion of the Day of International Criminal Justice, the Principals of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), President Graciela Gatti Santana, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz and Registrar Abubacarr M. Tambadou, issued the following statement:

“International Criminal Justice Day marks the anniversary of the adoption on 17 July 1998 of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). While the path to the ICC was paved by the seminal work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the establishment of the world’s first permanent international criminal court signaled a further important step towards universal acceptance of the notion of accountability for atrocity crimes.

This month, the Mechanism marks a milestone of its own: the tenth anniversary of its commencement of operations. On 1 July 2012, the Mechanism’s branch in Arusha, Tanzania assumed responsibility for essential functions previously carried out by the ICTR. A year later, the Mechanism opened its branch in The Hague, the Netherlands, assuming functions derived from the ICTY.

Today, therefore, we reflect with pride on the achievements of the Mechanism over the last decade and its many contributions to international criminal justice. Over ten years of operations, the Mechanism has developed into a role-model institution whose two branches and two duty stations have grown together, established numerous best practices and progressed rapidly towards the conclusion of our judicial mandate. Indeed, the Mechanism has completed almost all of its core judicial caseload, with the important trial in the Kabuga case anticipated to begin soon and the Stanišić and Simatović appeal to conclude next year.

The Mechanism’s unique residual responsibilities are no less important than the functions of the ICTR and the ICTY, and they require sustained efforts and resources to see the justice cycle through to the end. For example, the Mechanism provides critical support to Member States seeking to achieve justice for international crimes in their domestic courts. Tracking the remaining fugitives of the ICTR ensures that, to the extent possible, these alleged perpetrators are accounted for. Supervising the enforcement of sentences allows the Mechanism to ensure those convicted are appropriately punished while safeguarding their rights. Effectively protecting witnesses who appeared before the Tribunals and the Mechanism encourages more people to come forward and appear as witnesses before other courts involved in the fight against impunity. Preserving the archives ensures that the role of the Mechanism and its predecessors is understood by the general public and that their work remains accessible and, more importantly, an indisputable historical record.

We underscore that combating impunity is a shared responsibility, and that the delivery of justice requires constant, determined effort. Further, we recognise that none of the Mechanism’s accomplishments would be possible without the valuable support of States and other stakeholders, and the dedicated service of our outstanding Judges and staff. The Security Council’s recent fourth review of the Mechanism’s progress of work, culminating in Resolution 2637 (2022), demonstrates the trust that the international community continues to place in us. In this regard, too, we welcome the decision by the United Nations Secretary-General to appoint the Mechanism’s first woman President, and we call for more diversity and better gender representation in international courts and tribunals.

Today, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideals and fundamental principles that International Criminal Justice Day encapsulates, and look forward to continuing to work with those who believe in the mission of the Mechanism.”