As part of the events marking the closing of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), Judge Theodor Meron, delivered remarks at the ICTR Staff Association Dinner and the Prosecutor’s Roundtable which took place this week in Arusha, Tanzania.
During the ICTR Staff Association Dinner, held on Tuesday 1 December, President Meron paid tribute to the efforts of the ICTR Judges, Principals, defence counsel and staff over the past two decades, underscoring the instrumental role they played in completing many historic trials and contributing meaningfully in many other ways to the work of the ICTR. He assured those gathered at the event that “your work, your efforts, your commitment to the ICTR over the years—they will not be forgotten”. President Meron noted that the legacy of the ICTR “will be carried forward by advocates and activists, by prosecutors and jurists in every country that looks to the ICTR for examples and seeks to help close the impunity gap with respect to international crimes”.
Today the President also addressed the Prosecutor’s Roundtable organised by Hassan B. Jallow, Prosecutor of the Mechanism and the ICTR.
Discussing international justice’s developments over the past two decades, President Meron stressed the undeniable importance of the work of international courts like the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He further explained that they have “helped to both exemplify and solidify the international community’s commitment to principles […] that the worst of crimes cannot and shall not be ignored […] and that ensuring respect for the rule of law is an essential step toward achieving lasting peace in the aftermath of conflict and the effective protection of human rights”.
President Meron discussed in particular the many ways that international courts set key examples and offer resources for those in national jurisdictions as they seek to end impunity locally. He underscored in this regard that “the future of the era of accountability ushered in two decades ago depends in a very real way upon engagement at the national level and upon the support dedicated by those both inside and outside of national jurisdictions when it comes to giving practical effect to the principle of complementarity”.
In concluding, President Meron noted the unique role that international courts have played in forming a generation of young lawyers and professionals who will be “[…] carrying forward the fight against impunity and seeking new and meaningful ways to ensure that our shared future is grounded in principles of accountability and fundamental respect for the rule of law”.