Statement by H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
At the Thematic Debate of the General Assembly
On the Role of International Criminal Justice in Reconciliation
11 April 2013
I am delighted to make a statement on behalf of my Government at this thematic debate on the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation.
We are in a “new age of accountability,” as Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon once noted. In the past two decades, we saw significant development in the field of international criminal justice. The fundamental break with history began with the establishment of two ad hoc international criminal tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in 1993 and 1994 which was later followed by the launching of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in 2006. Epoch-making progress was undoubtedly the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002. As the ICC’s leading contributor who has been making efforts to enhance the universality of the Court, we welcome the ICC’s increased capability in dealing with grave crimes, as shown in its very first judgment in the Lubanga case in March 2012.
As many agree, the wide range of criminal institutional models set up by the international community can not only advance the cause of justice and rule of law in transitional societies, but also help societies emerge from war-torn situations and restore peace. Indeed, international criminal justice is expected to cut the vicious cycle of revenge and prevent further violence through holding perpetrators accountable. If I take up the example of the ECCC, its judicial proceedings are reported in Cambodia on a daily basis and more than 100,000 people have visited the courtroom to hear the trials, helping Cambodia establish a society where justice is being realized.
Since its inception, the system of international criminal tribunals has enjoyed increased credibility in consolidating peace and ensuring justice for victims; however, over the past two decades, history has also revealed some challenges. We must admit that the process of international criminal justice is not always accepted as justice by all parties concerned. To ensure that justice plays a positive role in reconciliation, impartiality and due process must be respected in the whole process under the principle of judicial independence.
State cooperation with the ICC is also a major lesson learned in recent years. Whether it be States Parties or non-States Parties, the international community as a whole needs to unite to combat the culture of impunity and promote reconciliation in conflict and post-conflict societies. In particular, the Security Council has an important role to play in supporting the ICC, especially in situations where the Security Council refers a case to the Court. As the organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council should continue to be duly engaged and provide support to the Court even after its referral. Japan therefore expects the dialogue between the Security Council and the Court to further deepen.
International criminal tribunals have contributed significantly to bringing justice to victims, fighting impunity and helping reconciliation in war-torn societies. It is therefore regrettable that some tribunals such as the ECCC face financial difficulties. Japan calls upon all states to make their best efforts to cooperate with and support those tribunals.
I thank you, Mr. President.