23 May 2003


Also Adopts Text on Global Road Safety Crisis

NEW YORK, 22 May (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this morning endorsed Security Council resolution 1482 (2003) to extend the term of office of four permanent judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, so that they could dispose of several ongoing cases.

By the terms of that resolution, adopted by the Council on 19 May, Judges Dolenc and Ostrovsky would be able to finish the Cyangugu case, which they had begun before the expiration of their terms of office. Similarly, Judge Maqutu would be able to finish the Kajelijeli and Kamuhanda cases; and Judge Pillay the Media case.

The resolution notes the Tribunal’s intentions to finish the Cyangugu case before the end of February 2004, and the Kajelijeli, Kamuhanda, and Media cases before the end of December 2003.

[Judges Dolenc, Maqutu, Ostrovsky, and Pillay were not re-elected for a second term of office during the elections on 31 January 2003. The terms of office of 11 of the permanent judges who are currently serving in the Chambers of the International Tribunal for Rwanda will expire on 24 May 2003.]

Proceedings in the cases in question were well advanced, according to the letter from the President of the Rwanda Tribunal, which contains the request for the extension of judges (document S/2003/431), with one exception. If the judges concerned had not been allowed to continue their work, it would have been necessary to start the trials anew with fresh panels of judges, and to order the rehearing of witnesses and the representation of arguments.

Regarding budget implications, the Assembly was informed that should it decide to extend the terms of office of the four judges, additional costs, provisionally estimated at $1,281,500, would arise. It was anticipated that of that amount, the costs pertaining to the year 2003, estimated at $975,470, could be met from within the appropriations for 2002-2003. The remainder for the year 2004 in the amount of $306,030 would be reported to the Assembly at its fifty-eighth session in the context of the proposed budget for the Rwanda Tribunal for 2004-2005.

Also this morning, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a resolution on global road safety crisis (document A/57/L.77). By that text, the Assembly encouraged governments and civil society to raise awareness of the widespread problem of preventable road traffic deaths and injuries, targeting especially the young in educational establishments.

Further, the Assembly urged all governments to promulgate and continue to enforce existing traffic laws. It also requested the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly on the global road safety crisis, considering the views expressed by Member States and relevant agencies of the United Nations system, for consideration during the Assembly’s fifty-eighth session.

Introducing the text, the representative of Oman, Fuad Al-Hinai, said road accidents caused 1.2 million deaths and injured 10 to 15 million people each year. By 2020, road traffic injuries would account for 3.3 million deaths globally, with more than 90 per cent occurring in low and middle-income countries.

According to the World Health Organization, he said, road accidents caused 2.8 per cent of all global deaths and ranked ninth among the leading causes of disease burden. The annual cost of road traffic accidents was a staggering $500 billion, with Africa alone bearing one-fifth of that cost, using funds that were badly needed for development.

Despite those figures, he continued, the topic of road safety had been largely ignored by the international community. The thousands of deaths caused by road accidents per year did not receive the media attention of a single aircraft crash. Given the growth in deaths and injuries, action to reduce traffic accidents should be a significant priority for the international community. Coordination between United Nations bodies was urgently needed to address the problem.

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