April 10, 2013 – Washington, D.C. – In response to today's debate at the United Nations (UN), the United States of America has decided not to participate and boycotted the UN event on international justice and reconciliation that was organized by the President of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Vuk Jeremic.
Erin Pelton, Spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations issued the following statement today:
"The United States strongly disagrees with the decision of the President of the General Assembly to hold an unbalanced, inflammatory thematic debate today on the role of international criminal justice in reconciliation and will not participate. We believe that ad hoc international criminal tribunals and other judicial institutions in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia have been critical to ending impunity and helping these countries chart a new, more positive future. We regret in particular that the way today's thematic debate and the related panel discussion are structured fail to provide the victims of these atrocities an appropriate voice.
Today's session is a missed opportunity to strengthen the global system of accountability for those most responsible for atrocities, an important priority of the United States. Holding accountable those responsible for such acts through impartial and independent trials reinforces the rule of law, deters future criminal activity, and reinforces human rights law and international humanitarian law norms. Accountability is also an important component of a holistic transitional justice agenda, which supports long-term peace and reconciliation in countries emerging from armed conflict with legacies of large scale abuse. While we have made progress in these areas, much work remains. The United States will not rest until those responsible for perpetrating mass atrocities face justice and those who would commit such crimes know they will never enjoy impunity."
Canada and Jordan also boycotted the debate and Jordan's Permanent Representative to the UN, Prince Zeid al Hussein along with Liechtenstein's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Christian Wenaweser hosted a press conference for two victims groups – the Mothers of Srebrenica and the Association of Witnesses and Survivors of Genocide because the event refused to include Bosnia's war victims in the agenda.
"ACBH is grateful for the lasting dedication, friendship and support of the United States government and thanks all of those who refused to participate in today's UN meeting. Events such as these do not promote peace and reconciliation and only further the ethnic and religious divides within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region," stated ACBH Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Haris Hromic.
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