President Graciela Gatti Santana addresses United Nations General Assembly in New York
The President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, today presented the Mechanism’s tenth Annual Report to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This was President Gatti Santana’s first address to the Assembly since she assumed office on 1 July 2022.
At the outset, President Gatti Santana congratulated His Excellency Mr. Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary on his election as President of the 77th session of the General Assembly and wished him success in finding solutions for the complex crises the world is facing. She also acknowledged the tremendous contribution of her predecessor Judge Carmel Agius to the Mechanism and international justice more generally.
President Gatti Santana remarked that the submission of the tenth Annual Report represents a significant milestone for the Mechanism, as it started operations at the Arusha branch 10 years ago on 1 July 2012. The President noted that the Mechanism has come far since then, considering that, with the exception of one appeal and one trial, all core cases earmarked to be heard before the Mechanism have been finalised. In this regard, she underlined that “the coming years will see the transition of the Mechanism from a fully operational court to a truly residual institution.”
President Gatti Santana then introduced and elaborated on the three priorities she developed for her Presidency, based on the guidance of the Security Council in Resolution 2637 (2022): First, to ensure the efficient, effective and fair conclusion of the remaining trial and appeal proceedings. Second, to lead efforts in developing a comprehensive Mechanism strategy on continuous residual functions; and third, to consolidate the achievements of the ad hoc Tribunals and the Mechanism and to safeguard their invaluable legacy, while further enhancing inter-organ and inter-branch coordination and collaboration.
The President stressed that the international community’s trust in a credible international criminal justice system may be jeopardised without long-term strategies and support, and that therefore the Mechanism requires the continuing backing of all States in the areas of cooperation and resources. In this regard she thanked the 13 enforcement States for taking on additional responsibilities and invited others to share this burden. President Gatti Santana also underscored the need for Member States to honour their international obligations. She referred here in particular to Serbia’s ongoing refusal to arrest and transfer the contempt accused Mr. Petar Jojić and Ms. Vjerica Radeta and to the situation of the eight acquitted and released persons who were relocated to the Republic of the Niger in December 2021. She finally reassured the Assembly that the Mechanism is doing its utmost to streamline activities and be efficient and transparent in all its operations, but requires adequate resources to be able to deliver.
In closing, the President expressed her concern about the rise in genocide denial, historical revisionism and the glorification of convicted war criminals, and called upon the international community not only to stand by the Mechanism until it has completed its mandate, but to also remain vigilant and firm in countering societal patterns that feed on hatred, incitement and the denial of past crimes.
President Gatti Santana is in New York to report on the Mechanism’s activities in accordance with Article 32(1) of the Statute of the Mechanism.