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Helsinki Commission Releases U.S. Statement on Intervention on International Humanitarian Law at OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

WARSAW, POLAND – The following statement on Intervention on International Humanitarian Law was delivered by the United States at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation currently being held in Warsaw, Poland:

Intervention on International Humanitarian Law

Statement Delivered by Brent E. Blaschke

U.S. Delegation to the

OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

The horrendous events of two weeks ago have changed us all. The despicable crimes perpetrated in New York and Washington have made clearer than mere words or statements that the international community must adhere to and jointly defend a core set of laws and legal precepts in governing the behavior of nations — beyond which we will not go nor allow others to venture.

The United States Government continues to be a champion of the rule of law as a restraining and constraining influence in governing relations between nations. Our intentions are clearly illustrated by our staunch support of justice and accountability in Southeast Europe.

In Southeast Europe, our policy concerning war crimes exemplifies our commitment to the rule of law as a necessary step towards justice and accountability. We have completed an intense policy review of our goals and policy regarding the war crimes committed in the Balkans and reaffirm our firm support to the important work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The tribunal is helping to establish the conditions necessary for a lasting and stable peace. It has advanced the cause of justice, thus increasing the likelihood that the rule of law, a necessary ingredient freedom and democracy, will take hold.

The difficult but vital transfer to the tribunal of Slobodan Milosevic by the authorities in Belgrade demonstrates what leaders with high aspirations for justice and regional peace can accomplish. The Governments of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have both stood tall on a number of occasions in cooperating with the ICTY. However, within Bosnia we are concerned that local governments in the Republika-Srpska have lagged far behind.

The United States will continue to do what it can to support those political leaders in the Balkans recognize the absolute need for justice and accountability in building a peaceful future for their people. Leaders should not jeopardize the welfare of a whole nation to protect a few individuals responsible for horrific crimes. We will assist and, when necessary, strongly encourage regional parties towards progress on accountability both domestically and through additional cooperation with the ICTY. We strongly urge all participating States of the OSCE to remain directly engaged as well in both assisting and pushing for progress in this area. International justice requires international solidarity and unflagging commitment.

The United States will continue to support the ICTY, provide political and financial support to states that work towards progress and stability, and work with the international community to apprehend tribunal fugitives. The path to justice and peace will be long-and hard, but we will stay the course.

We again urge authorities in Southeast Europe to do their part and promptly apprehend and transfer indictees to The Hague. We call upon Radovan Karadzic to surrender voluntarily, with dignity, as did Madame Plavsic. Otherwise he will eventually be plucked from his hiding place.

The U.S. also urges OSCE participating States to help strengthen the legal institutions in Southeast Europe to create an environment that allows domestic courts there to assume more of the legal responsibility for cases involving war crimes in a fully credible and impartial manner. The ICTY was not established as an institution that would deny full sovereignty to the nations of the region in perpetuity. In our view, the tribunal should be moving towards finishing its business by processing the most serious cases by 2007, as already suggested by court president Jorda.

We welcome the news of a recent agreement by Serb and Kosovar officials providing for the transfer of the approximately 200 remaining Albanian prisoners. We are hopeful that a date will soon be decided for that transfer to the jurisdiction of UNMIK.

Finally, as the United States and like-minded nations undertake our joint objective of bringing to justice the perpetrators of September 11’s horrific attacks, we will categorically forsake the use of terror and will honor international law.

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