ICTY closes down, UN's Guterres says accepting undeniable truth and facts is crucial for better and common future

Photo: EPA/ROBIN UTRECHT

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The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has closed down in a solemn ceremony on Thursday, after more than 10,000 days of trials, testimonies of nearly 5,000 witnesses and 90 final verdicts. The ICTY will officially end its work on December 31, and will be succeeded by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).

The event was attended by the ICTY’s judges, politicians, former High Representative in BiH Wolfgang Petritsch, European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, then representatives of victims from BiH, and many others. BiH Ambassador the Netherlands Mirsada Colakovic was also among the guests and she was seated near King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

ICTY President Carmel Agius stated in his speech that this institution has achieved a lot more than it was expected when it was formed in 1993. “There is no peace without justice”, he stressed.

Photo: EPA/ROBIN UTRECHT

Guterres also addressed the ceremony, noting thata foundation of the ICTY in 1993 was a ground-breaking moment.

"By voting unanimously for the creation of the first-ever criminal tribunal within the United Nations, the Security Council noted that it was 'convinced' that it would contribute to the restoration and maintenance of peace, thereby highlighting the close links between international criminal justice and the Organization’s core mission. I would sincerely like that this feeling would remain today.The creation of this Tribunal demonstrated a newfound and serious commitment by the international community that those responsible for perpetrating the most serious crimes of international concern should be held accountable for their actions", he stressed.

He also emphasized that the Tribunal gave a voice to victims, who were given an opportunity to tell their stories in court, to place their experiences on the record and to see the perpetrators of crimes against them held accountable. "This, in itself, has contributed to the healing process", Guterres said, adding that he salutes the courage of all those who came to the Tribunal to guarantee that justice could be served.

"Just as the whole international community, including the United Nations, has had to acknowledge their share of responsibility for the massacre, so must the various communities of the former Yugoslavia build on the legacy of the Tribunal and deepen their efforts towards trust and full reconciliation. Accepting the undeniable truth and facts of past tragedies is crucial for building a better and common future", Guterres concluded his speech.

Full speech available at the UN's official website.