President Gatti Santana addresses high-level conference on prevention in the Western Balkans

The Hague
President Gatti Santana addresses high-level conference on prevention in the Western Balkans

Today, Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), delivered a video message at the High-Level Conference: “Building a Common Agenda for Prevention in the Western Balkans”.

Organised by the Western Balkans Coalition for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Crimes Prevention in cooperation with Impunity Watch, and supported by the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the Conference was convened in Podgorica, Montenegro. Its aim was to address critical issues relating to genocide prevention, the reduction of ethnic-based violence, and dealing with the past in the Western Balkans, particularly in response to the rising trends of revisionism and denial.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Dunja Mijatović, gave an opening speech, while the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, also delivered a video message.

During her remarks, President Gatti Santana highlighted the great importance of consolidating the legacy of the Mechanism and the ad hoc Tribunals in an effort to combat denial, glorification, and historical revisionism. In this context, she drew attention to the Mechanism’s ongoing work towards disseminating judicial findings and records to the widest audience possible, including through online databases, information centres, and outreach activities, as well as its role in responding to national requests for assistance.

The President further emphasised that there is much more to be done by different stakeholders to ensure that the experiences of victims are acknowledged and respected. Recalling the critical role that victims played as witnesses before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Mechanism, she stated: “Their stories are testaments to the resilience of the human spirit and also serve as stark reminders of the imperative of ‘never again’”. Finally, President Gatti Santana noted the encouraging development of the right of victims of international crimes to claim reparations, as a means of redress for the harms they have suffered.

A number of panel discussions took place during the course of the Conference, featuring representatives of civil society organisations from across the region of the former Yugoslavia. In this way, the Conference served as a valuable platform for the participants to gather and share insights on diverse topics such as prevention strategies, victims’ rights, the role of education, and addressing historical challenges in the digital age.

Please follow this link to read the full text of President Gatti Santana’s remarks.

To watch the full video message, please follow this link.