Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Netherlands intervention ICTY-ICTR debate UN Security Council

Statement by

Mr. Marcel van den Bogaard

Legal adviser

Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 12 June 2013


Mr. President,

The Netherlands thanks you for the opportunity to speak today at this session of the Security Council on the international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

We align ourselves with the statements by the European Union and Liechtenstein.

The great interest by states in this debate is an unmistakable sign of the importance the international community attaches to both tribunals and their goals.

Twenty years ago the Council recognized that mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing amount to a threat to international peace and security. By creating both tribunals the Council courageously undertook to address the most serious international crimes.

The result has profoundly changed the international debate. Impunity is no longer acceptable and the  the international community has entered into an age of accountability.

The work of these two tribunals has almost come to an end.

The Netherlands today wants to pay tribute to the Council for adopting these two resolutions, to the international community for its support and to those at ICTY and ICTR for their work in making the vision of these tribunals come true.

The ICTR has significantly broadened international criminal jurisprudence by being the first court to prosecute suspects for the crime of genocide, by demonstrating that rape may be an act of genocide, and by considering the criminal responsibility of the media. It contributed significantly to developing the law regarding criminal responsibility in non-international armed conflict.

The ICTY has been equally successful: all of the indicted have been brought before the tribunal, including several long term fugitives. It has contributed substantially to the penalization of the grave breaches of international humanitarian law and the further development of customary laws of war. 

The Netherlands is proud to host the ICTY and the appeals chamber of both tribunals, and has always been a staunch political supporter of both tribunals. At the celebration of ICTY’s twentieth anniversary in The Hague last month, in the presence of King Willem Alexander, various speakers emphasized how crucial continued political pressure on all parties concerned to cooperate with the tribunal, has been for enabling it to carry out its mandate effectively.

Mr. President,

Please allow me therefore to seize the opportunity to stress the importance of political, diplomatic and financial support to these and other tribunals. The Council, by being instrumental in establishing these, has a solemn responsibility to ensure that they can do their work.

International justice cannot and should not be limited because of lack of political backing from the international community, nor hampered by financial constraints resulting from a system of voluntary financing, that threatens the deliverance of justice to the communities concerned. There must be a solid financial basis for international criminal justice mechanisms and their residual mechanisms.

The establishment of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals is essential to ensure that there will be no impunity for remaining fugitives, that appeals will be completed and witnesses protected, even after closure of the tribunals.

Mr. President, the historical importance of these two UN tribunals cannot be underestimated. Their legitimacy and their legacy are beyond dispute and will continue to shape the international relations for many years to come.

The tribunals have confirmed the principle of accountability for the most serious international crimes, by imposing punishment on those responsible and giving victims unprecedented access to justice. They have demonstrated the prevalence of the Rule of Law in communities affected by these heinous crimes.

The Netherlands remains firmly committed to the fight against impunity for the most serious international crimes both domestically and internationally. We count on the Security Council to do the same.