4 October 2005

Deputy Secretary-General, at Headquarters Pledging Conference, Urges States to Give Generously to Sierra Leone Special Court

NEW YORK, 30 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette's address to the Pledging Conference for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, delivered today in New York:

I would like to welcome you all to this important Pledging Conference, and to thank you for attending.

I particularly want to welcome Alhaji Momodu Koroma, the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, and Ambassador Allan Rock, the Permanent Representative of Canada, who holds the Chair of the Court's Management Committee.

I am very glad that senior officials of the Special Court are with us today, including the Registrar, Robin Vincent, and the Prosecutor, Desmond da Silva.

It is also a pleasure to have Ian Levine from Human Rights Watch with us today, representing the non-governmental community.

We are all here because we believe in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  We are determined that the Court, after three years of important achievements, and with trials at an advanced stage, must not now fail due to lack of resources.

Why do we believe this so strongly?

First, because those who bear the greatest responsibility for the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law should be held accountable for their actions.  Grave crimes were committed in Sierra Leone, and we believe that impunity must not stand.

Second, we believe in making good on the commitments of the international community.  When the international community establishes or authorizes the establishment of an international tribunal, its credibility, and that of international justice, is at stake.  That credibility will be damaged if we fail to give the tribunal the resources and funding it needs to complete its work.

Third, we believe in what the Special Court means for the people of Sierra Leone, and their future.  An important feature of this Court is that its trials are taking place in the country where the crimes were committed.  Those who were affected are able to witness justice being done first hand.  The Court's work is a vital part of the effort to maintain peace and security in Sierra Leone, and to foster the process of national reconciliation.

The Special Court in Freetown consists of a small staff, both national and international.  They are dedicated to what the Court stands for, and they need our support.

The Court was funded by voluntary contributions until the end of 2004.  In June 2005, the General Assembly appropriated $20 million to supplement the Court's financial resources for the first six months of this year, and authorized the Secretary-General to enter into further commitments of up to $13 million to meet expenses for the second half of this year.

But from 1 January 2006, the Court will revert to voluntary contributions.  The Registrar, who will be speaking shortly, estimates that $25 million will be needed to finance the Court's activities next year.

I urge States to give generously to the Special Court.  By doing so, they will make clear that the international community backs up its decisions; that they are determined to support Sierra Leone; and that those who commit heinous crimes against international law, wherever they may be, must be held accountable for their actions.

Before I close, I very much want to thank the Member States who sit on the Management Committee, and who oversee the Court's non-judicial, and especially financial, activities.  They have not only supported the Court, but also ensured that it operates in a fiscally responsible manner and within the means available to it.

On that note, it is my pleasure to give the floor to the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Momodu Koroma.

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