First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
Statement at The International Criminal Tribunal
March 24, 1997
I want to thank Justice Arbour and the other Justices for taking the
time to speak with me about the International Criminal Tribunal and its
efforts to bring peace to central Africa and justice to those who
committed genocide, acts of sexual violence, and other war atrocities in
Rwanda in 1994. Justice Arbour has established herself as a determined
guardian of the rule of law. She and the Tribunal's investigators,
prosecutors and justices deserve our strong support as they undertake this
difficult work. Let me also thank the staff of the Tribunal for their
dedication and their willingness to serve under conditions that are often
far from ideal.
Genocide is a crime against humanity. The
perpetrators of genocide must be brought to justice whenever genocide
occurs; wherever genocide occurs. As a signatory of the International
Convention on Genocide, the United States is legally and morally bound to
prosecute and punish those who commit such crimes. But let me be clear:
We seek punishment not for its own sake, but as a signal of the return of
the rule of law and accountability, as a stark warning against future acts
of horror, and as a first step on the road to peace and reconciliation.
The training workshop on sexual violence that I just observed is
critical to the Tribunal's efforts to live up to its mandate. The war in
Rwanda was waged with the lives and dignity of women and children. The
evidence suggests that rape and sexual assault were committed on a mass
scale. They were tactics of war. On this, the world community must speak
with one voice: Such tactics will never be tolerated. We will do our
utmost to see to it that the war criminals who practice them who subject
women and children to sexual abuse and violence will be investigated,
prosecuted, and punished with the full force of the law.
tribunal has an immense and important job before it. The results of its
work will be felt not just in Africa, but around the world. The Tribunal
can help bind up the wounds of war; it can guard against future acts of
genocide and their horrible aftermath refugee crises that trap women and
children in a world of despair. In short, because the Tribunal is
prosecuting the lowest of crimes, it must be held to the highest of
That is why the United States is encouraged by the
decisive action United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has taken to
repair and reform the Tribunal's management and operations. Working with
Justice Arbour, the Secretary General has taken the necessary first steps
to correct the problems that have plagued the Tribunal's short existence.
We applaud these ongoing efforts to create a Tribunal that is fair,
efficient, effective, and just. A Tribunal that does not live up to these
standards will undermine the prospects for peace in central Africa and
dishonor the memory of those who perished in Rwanda.
Clinton and Secretary of State Albright are firmly committed to the
Tribunal's goals and to these critically important reform efforts. The
United States is the Tribunal's largest contributor. Our financial support
totals more than $12 million. We have provided computers and other
necessities. Ten Americans currently serve in the Office of the
Prosecutor. In fact, the United States helped to sponsor the workshop on
rape and sexual assaults that I visited today.
I should add that the
United States is also working to rebuild the judiciary in Rwanda. While
this Tribunal will concentrate on bringing to justice the architects of
genocide, Rwanda's courts will focus on those who participated in the
violence at lower levels. It is essential that we continue to help Rwanda
to put in place a system of laws that will ensure fair treatment for all
innocent and guilty alike.
Finally, let me say that this is an
international Tribunal. It can succeed only with sustained support and
cooperation from the community of nations. Every country has the
responsibility to assist the Tribunal with its work.
This is a holy
week one that marks the passage from loss and despair to hope and
redemption. In many ways, that is the mission of this Tribunal to heal and
to a place that has known too much sorrow. It must succeed.
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's
Trip to Africa