Thematic debate on the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation

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Thematic debate of the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly "Role of international criminal justice in reconciliation"
Host country United Nations
Date April 10, 2013 (2013-04-10)
Venue(s) United Nations Headquarters
Cities New York City

The thematic debate on the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation is an interactive thematic public debate convened on 10 April 2013 by Vuk Jeremić, President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) during the assembly's 67th session. The debate was organized after the conclusion of the Trial of Gotovina et al at the ICTY in which the court acquitted two defendants charged with war crimes against Serbs in Croatia. Some countries, notably the United States and Croatia, refused to participate in the debate and some of the invited participants, such as the president of the ICTY, cancelled their participation.

Organization of the debate[edit]

This debate was one of interactive thematic public debates convened on 10 April 2013 by the President of the General Assembly during the resumed part of the UNGA's 67th session.[1] It was scheduled after Gotovina and Markač were acquitted of the war crimes by the ICTY in November 2012.[2] Jeremić stated that there was a strong pressure to cancel the debate[3] and concluded that the boycott was not successful.[4]

Participants[edit]

Theodor Meron announced that all three Hague war-crimes courts turned down the invitation of the UNGA president for participation in the debate about their work.[5] The president of the General Assembly described the refusal of the ICTY president to participate in this debate as scandalous.[6]

The debate had two sessions, first participated by the representatives of countries and second by NGOs and notable experts.[7] Experts who participated in the debate included Lewis Mackenzie, Savo Štrbac, Matthew Parish, John Laughland, William Schabas, Charles Jalloh and John Ciorciari.[8]

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon was one of the participants in the debate.[9] More than 80 countries participated in the debate which was the highest number in the history of UN public debates.[10][11]

The delegation of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina was led by Nebojša Radmanović.[12] The president of Croatia Ivo Josipović had emphasized that he would not attend nor participate in the debate.[13]

Debate[edit]

The debate was opened by Vuk Jeremić who underlined that in the UN no topic should be forbidden.[14]

The first participant in the debate was Tomislav Nikolić, the president of Serbia. He criticized the work of ICTY emphasizing that it did not contribute but hindered the reconciliation in former Yugoslavia. He reminded that, although there is no significant ethnic disproportion among the number of casualties in the Yugoslav wars, the ICTY sentenced Serbs to 1,150 years in prison while members of other ethnic groups are sentenced to 55 totally for crimes against Serbs.[15] Vitaly Churkin, the ambassador of Russia to the UN, also criticized the work of the ICTY, especially acquittals of Gotovina and Ramush Haradinaj. He emphasized that in this cases the justice has not been satisfied because in this cases nobody was convicted for evident crimes.[16]

An incident happened during the speech of Tomislav Nikolić when Munira Subašić, president of "Mothers of Srebrenica" organization, was dismissed from the hall after she revealed a shirt with an inscription against the Republic of Srpska.[17]

Reactions[edit]

Judge Theodor Meron of the ICTY at the time of this debate, criticized this debate and argued that "Acquittals, just as convictions, show the health of the system."[18] Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch stated that debate is a revisionist denial of the war crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars.[19] United States, Canada and Jordan boycotted the debate while the critics of the debate asserted that it was an attempt to discredit the ICTY.[20] The president of the UNGA Vuk Jeremić replied that he does not shy away from criticizing the ICTY which has "convicted nobody for inciting crimes committed against Serbs in Croatia."[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Remarks on the Occasion of the Closing of the Main Part of the Sixty-Seventh Session of the General Assembly". http://www.un.org/. Retrieved 9 April 2013. I will also convene several other high-level thematic debates in the months to come...our debates during the resumed part of the 67th Session. Another will focus on the Role of International Criminal Justice in Reconciliation.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ "Croatian President Shuns Jeremic's UN Debate". Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. Jeremic scheduled the debate on "The role of international criminal justice in reconciliation“ after the ICTY acquitted two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, of war crimes during the conflict in Croatia in 1995. 
  3. ^ "Jeremic: Debate to enter UN official records". Tanjug. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. In the last month, strong pressures were imposed from certain centers of power with a view to canceling the debate, but they were to no avail, which is illustrated by the positive response from member states and individuals, the UNGA president said. 
  4. ^ Jasnić, I.M. (4 April 2013). "Boycott of session UN over work of Hague Tribunal fails". Blic. Retrieved 9 April 2013. Jeremic did not want to speak about the participants but is satisfied that a difficult moment of pressure has been overcome, that the boycott has failed and that the debate shall be held. 
  5. ^ "ICTY isn’t coming to Vuk Jeremic’s UN General Assembly debate". Croatia Business Report. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. Not only the ICTY but all three war crimes tribunals turned down Jeremic's invitation, Meron said at a panel on the role of the Hague tribunals in the protection of human rights held at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Thursday. 
  6. ^ "Jeremić: Odbijeni pritisci, debate će biti". RTV Vojvodine. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. On je kao skandalozno ocenio to što se predsednik Haškog tribunala Teodor Meron nije odazvao pozivu da se pojavi u UN, pod čijim patronatom sud funkcioniše. 
  7. ^ "Jeremić:10.april prilika da dokažemo da nismo jedini krivac". Politika. Tanjug. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. Prema njegovim rečima, rasprava će se sastojati iz dva dela - u prvom delu će učestvovati države, a u drugom nevladine organizacije, istaknuti akadamski stručnjaci, javne ličnosti. 
  8. ^ Comments of Matthew Parish on the panel debate, Transconflict, 2 May 2012
  9. ^ "UN chief to take part in debate on war crimes tribunals". b92. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed his participation in a public debate on the operation of the international criminal tribunals. 
  10. ^ "Jeremić: Sve je spremno za debatu". b92. Tanjug. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013. More than 40 UN member-states have so far announced their participation 
  11. ^ "Nikolić Ban Ki Munu: Pravda nije zadovoljena". Tanjug. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013. na njoj je učestvovao do sada najveći broj država u istoriji javnih debata u UN. 
  12. ^ "Session of BiH Presidency held". Sarajevo Times. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. The BiH Presidency accepted the invitation to participate in an open debate of the UN General Assembly on the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation, which will be held on 10 April 2013 in New York, and Nebojša Radmanović will lead the BiH Presidency delegation. 
  13. ^ "Josipović neće učestvovati u raspravi o Haškom tribunalu u UN". Nezavisne Novine. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. Predsjednik Hrvatske Ivo Josipović izjavio je da neće učestvovati u raspravi o Haškom tribunalu u UN. 
  14. ^ "JEREMIĆ OTVORIO DEBATU: Pomirenje uz istinu i poštovanje žrtava". Telegraf. Tanjug. 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. Predsednik Generalne skupštine UN otvorio je javnu debatu o radu međunarodnih krivičnih sudova uz konstataciju da ne treba da bude zabranjenih tema u UN 
  15. ^ "O Hagu na Ist Riveru". Vreme. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Čurkin: Negativan primer Haškog tribunala". Mondo (in Serbian). Tanjug. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Munira Subašić izbačena iz sale UN". Dnevni Akter. Tanjug. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  18. ^ "ICTY President Criticizes Serbian-Organized UN Debate". Radio Free Europe. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. The president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has criticized a scheduled Serbian-organized UN debate on the tribunal... "Acquittals, just as convictions, show the health of the system." 
  19. ^ Dicker, Richard (4 April 2013). "Denying Genocide Won't Promote Reconciliation". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 April 2013. Angered by a tribunal appeals decision last November that freed two Croatian generals convicted of crimes against Serbs -- admittedly a controversial reversal, Jeremic decided to use his General Assembly authority to organize a "debate" to serve as cover for an auto-da-fe of the tribunal. 
  20. ^ Gladstone, Rick (16 April 2013). "Serb Defends U.N. Meeting Boycotted by the U.S.". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2013-04-17. at critics of a meeting he organized last week on the role of international criminal justice, denying their assertions that he had been trying to discredit the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia....he United States, Canada and Jordan boycotted the meeting, 
  21. ^ Gladstone, Rick (16 April 2013). "Serb Defends U.N. Meeting Boycotted by the U.S.". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2013-04-17. has “convicted nobody for inciting crimes committed against Serbs in Croatia.”