As Principals of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), we are proud to join the international community in marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), and to celebrate the UN’s unique role in promoting peace, justice, and the advancement of international law.
Since its adoption in 1945, the UN Charter has fundamentally shaped our world and created the framework to replace conflict with cooperation and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
The imperative to secure peace by bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities was well-established at the UN’s birth. And the UN revitalised this idea nearly fifty years later when faced with some of the worst crimes committed since the end of World War II. In 1993, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established with the UN Security Council’s unanimous vote following overwhelming evidence of serious crimes being committed in the Balkans. In 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was created soon after the 100-day genocide against the Tutsi.
Through these ad hoc Tribunals, the UN immensely strengthened international justice as a core element of conflict resolution and peace building. UN courts demonstrated that those responsible for crimes under international law can be brought to trial, that sitting heads of states are not immune from prosecution, that victims should be heard and that the law must prevail, even in times of war.
These UN efforts also galvanised supporters of international justice across the globe and created the momentum and enthusiasm that ultimately led to the establishment of other international courts and tribunals, including the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). The Mechanism itself is a further expression of the UN’s enduring commitment to justice and to ensuring that all of the remaining work of the ICTR and ICTY is completed. This includes accounting for the remaining fugitives and preserving the ad hoc Tribunals’ unique legacies.
As recently reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly in its Declaration of 21 September 2020, even seventy-five years after its adoption “[t]he purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law remain timeless, universal and an indispensable foundation for a more peaceful, prosperous and just world”.
A more peaceful, prosperous and just world. This is the future that accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes helps to create. And thanks to the United Nations, its realisation is more within our grasp than ever before.