(New York) - As Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly today, Human Rights Watch criticized Belgrade's defiance of the U.N.-created Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Today's speech marks the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's first appearance at the General Assembly's high-profile General Debate since Yugoslavia lost its standing at the U.N. in September 1992. Yugoslavia was restored to full U.N. membership in November 2000 after the election defeat of Slobodan Milosevic. Yet, the Yugoslav authorities have refused to arrest those people indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) or allow the Tribunal access to government archives.
"These are people accused of the worst crimes known to humankind: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes," said Richard Dicker, Director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program. "U.N. members should be pressing Foreign Minister Svilanovic for an explanation."
The ICTY was created in 1993 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 827, which obliges all member states to cooperate with the Tribunal. Eight subsequent Security Council resolutions reaffirmed this obligation. Abiding by Security Council resolutions is a key requirement of U.N. membership.
At the end of June, Serbian authorities, representing one of the two constituent republics that make up the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, surrendered Slobodan Milosevic. On Friday, they surrendered two indictees, both Bosnian Serbs.
But the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has yet to arrest or surrender a Yugoslav citizen to the war crimes Tribunal. Yugoslavia's president, Vojislav Kostunica, has called the Tribunal "anti-Serb," and a "necessary evil."
"President Kostunica's longstanding defiance of the Tribunal is consistent, clear, and unmistakable," said Dicker. "But as a U.N. member, Yugoslavia should not be allowed to stonewall the ICTY and the United Nations."