Air Date: March 4, 1997||
Karl Paschke, Under-Secretary-General
for Internal Oversight Services, United Nations
(This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely
distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)
MARY GRAY DAVIDSON, Producer: This is Common Ground.
KARL PASCHKE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, United Nations:
Unless justice was brought back to their country, unless the genocide was also addressed as an
international crime and those people responsible for committing these crimes were punished, there
would not be a return to peace and stability in that area.
DAVIDSON: Seeking justice in Rwanda on this edition of Common Ground. Common
Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It’s produced by the
Stanley Foundation. I’m Mary Gray Davidson.
In just three months during 1994, half a million people were killed in Rwanda. The dead were
mostly from the Tutsi tribe, shot and bludgeoned by their Hutu neighbors. Now nearly three years
later, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is beginning to try its
first suspects rounded up for war crimes. Earlier this month, the UN inspection team found that
the genocide trials, which are taking place in Arusha, Tanzania, a country next to Rwanda, have
been crippled by poor management and lack of support from the UN’s New York headquarters. Two top
officials from the court have been dismissed so far. Karl Paschke, my guest today, is the
Inspector-General who issued the highly critical report.
PASCHKE: We saw that the administration of the tribunal was very poorly set up. There was
almost nothing really functioning in terms of the accounting system, financial management, cash
management, the setting up of the registry, the hiring of local people, the hiring selection and
recruitment of investigators and prosecutorial civil servants. Not even the construction of the
second courtroom, which was important to have, had started and…
DAVIDSON: Was that so there could be concurrent trials?
PASCHKE: Yes. And all of these administrative details that you can think of were not
really functioning properly. This was our major criticism. The response that we had from the
people in the field was that they felt there was a lack of support from headquarters in New York
and this is what we also focused on in our analysis and in our criticism; that indeed, the
Secretariat in New York did not really fully embrace its role, the role that it should have
played in the setting up of this court. The Secretariat did not even select for the key functions
there, people who were adequately trained and professionally qualified. And this was the major
problem which is incidentally now being addressed and has been addressed by a number of very
quick and spontaneous decisions to bring back some people who had not been up to the job and
replaced them with people who were better qualified to take over these administrative functions.
DAVIDSON: I’m wondering—if you wouldn’t mind backing up—I realize that your job is
looking at this tribunal, but I thought maybe we should put it in context for our listeners; and
if you wouldn’t mind, talk about why the tribunal was formed.
PASCHKE: The ethnic violence broke out in ’94-95 and led to what I really have to call
genocide. Many hundreds of thousands of Rwandese were killed.
DAVIDSON: Some figures say as many as half a million.
PASCHKE: Yes. And the international community which at that time mandated the United
Nations to try to do something about it, at the end after the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda had
a certain effect and indeed, was to a certain extent, able to pacify the country again. The
international community then felt that it was not enough to restabilize the area. There was also
an obligation to come to grips with these atrocities and try to bring back justice to that
country, to find those who were responsible for genocide and punish them. And the feeling was
that this was not only an obligation that should be addressed by the judiciary in Rwanda, but
that the international community had an obligation to address this. As was the case in another
ethnic struggle that the world knows about, that in former Yugoslavia, and it is not accidental
that for these two areas, international criminal tribunals were established. Now when I said that
the international community felt that this should be done, the international community pronounced
itself through the United Nations. In the General Assembly this feeling was articulated but then
particularly in the Security Council, this question was addressed. And the Security Council felt
that unless justice was brought back to that country, unless the genocide was also addressed as
an international crime and those people responsible for committing these crimes were punished,
there would not be a return to peace and stability in that area.
In my view, the establishment of these two courts, the one in The Hague which is addressing the
crimes committed in former Yugoslavia and the one in Arusha and Kigali which is supposed to deal
with the crimes committed in Rwanda, if they succeed will be a very significant step towards the
establishment of an international, criminal court of justice, which would then become a permanent
new organ of the United Nations. And it would be a quantum leap in the development of
international law if we had this.
DAVIDSON: Yes, you’ve been quoted as saying that these tribunals are holding the most
important trials since Nuremberg and is that why, because it would be this evolution in
PASCHKE: Yes indeed. You see, since the Nuremberg trials, no other attempts have been
made by the international community to come to grips on an international criminal legal basis
with crimes committed in the international field, crimes like genocide. But genocide, for
instance, is indeed a crime with an international dimension. It may today mostly happen within
one country, but it is still and has become through the development of world conscience an
international crime, a crime that concerns the world community. And therefore, I believe that the
world today is prepared to take that step towards the establishment of an international legal
authority that deals with international crimes.
DAVIDSON: Do you see, since we’ve already made the comparison with the Nuremberg trials,
is there a difference in these tribunals in that it is not necessarily the victors who are
PASCHKE: Yes, of course. This is a very significant difference between the Nuremberg
trials and these trials we are talking about now because the trials in Rwanda and in The Hague
dealing with former Yugoslavia are held on behalf of the world community, on behalf of the
international community which articulated its intention to have these trials happen through the
United Nations. That is the one difference, one very significant difference between the Nuremberg
trials which were set up by the victorious powers of World War II and the world community.
DAVIDSON: There’s an expression that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but do you fear
that this length of time, now two years have passed since the Rwanda tribunal was formed, do you
have any fear that the passage of time could affect its ability to do justice?
PASCHKE: I see this problem. In our report we have said that since the pace of
achievement of this court has been too slow, we are seeing the phenomenon of justice delayed
which is tantamount to justice denied. And this is why we believe every effort now has to be made
to make this court a success. Because indeed, the more time elapses between now and the verdicts
that are handed down, of course the less solid evidence becomes and the less striking the impact
of such verdicts would be. Because after all, verdicts, at least verdicts handed down by an
international court, do not only have the intention to punish the culprit but they also have to
have the intention of setting an example of shaping the conscience of the world for the future.
DAVIDSON: We’ll be back after a short break. My guest today is Karl Paschke, United
Nations Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, which investigates and reports
on problems within the United Nations system. Paschke’s office earlier this month issued a report
critical of the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda.
Printed transcripts and audiocassettes of this program are available and at the end of the
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To date, how many people are in custody and how many have gone to trial?
PASCHKE: I think that right now 21 people have been indicted, 13 are in custody, but
these figures are changing and they are in a way fluid because we expect a sizeable number of new
indictments to be handed down very soon and also a number of detainees who are waiting
extradition in other parts of Africa to be transferred to Arusha in the few weeks.
DAVIDSON: In Rwanda, in the massacres that occurred in 1994, is it possible to point the
finger at any one person responsible such as a Pol Pot or a Hitler or a Stalin?
PASCHKE: I am, because of an earlier experience I have had in my diplomatic career, quite
familiar with the area over there. I used to serve in Kinshasa, Zaire in the late ’60s and early
’70s. I know Rwanda quite well from these days. It is a small but very densely populated country.
I do know that there were a number of people, highly placed people, who were actually quite
involved in stirring up this mass hysteria that led to genocide, but I wouldn’t be able to
pinpoint one individual. I think that’s also not really what my role should be here in
commenting, because the tribunal has to define the prosecutorial strategy and they will, I trust,
will know who they are really going after and I’m quite sure that their intention is not only to
bring to trial as many people as they possibly can, but really make sure that they have those who
have committed the greatest either number of crimes, or who would carry the greatest degree of
responsibility for what has happened.
DAVIDSON: Through the course of investigating your report, were you traveling to Rwanda
PASCHKE: As I said, we sent a team of both investigators and auditors to Arusha and
Kigali and they spent weeks in the country. We will, in the next few months, probably in May or
June 1997, send another team to follow up on the recommendations that we have made and that team
will then look at what we hope is going to be significant improvement in the situation. This is
how we work and we make sure that the recommendations that we make are followed and we really
monitor the implementation until we are satisfied that indeed they have been complied with.
DAVIDSON: The reason I ask about the travel of you and your teams back to Rwanda is that
there are still foreigners who are being murdered there—foreign aid workers, a Catholic priest
was recently killed. Is this dangerous work for you and your team and the people that you’re
dealing with, because I imagine there are a lot of people in Rwanda who do not want to see your
work go on?
PASCHKE: Well I wouldn’t exclude that there is a certain danger involved in all of this
but I’d much rather focus on the dangers that are imminent there and very present there on a
daily basis for those who work there for the tribunal. The investigators, the trial attorneys and
the judges, at least those who are working in Kigali and its surroundings; not in Arusha where of
course everything is very peaceful, but in the Kigali area of course we are very concerned for
the security of our people, for the people who after all are working on behalf of the United
Nations. And I see a great deal of danger for them right now, much more danger than say six weeks
ago, and therefore…
DAVIDSON: Why is that? Because of the recent killings?
PASCHKE: Because of the recent surge of violence again and I just wanted to tell you that
in the Secretariat here, we have in the past few days discussed very thoroughly the options we
have in beefing up security in Kigali and its surroundings for that purpose.
DAVIDSON: And then of course, there are the people of Rwanda themselves who have yet to
have any sense of closure or justice who are now back living together. I read articles about
Hutus and Tutsis who are now neighbors again, knowing that one or the other may have committed
some atrocity against their family or friends and that, I imagine, makes your work even more
imperative, to bring this to a closure for the people of Rwanda.
PASCHKE: That is true. After all, I mean, the ultimate rationale for the entire tribunal
work and also for my work to try to make that tribunal function properly, the number one
rationale for all of this is the people of Rwanda who are in our view, entitled to justice being
done and are entitled to come to grips with this violent past and there is probably no other way
to bring this nation together again, to overcome these ethnic rifts that are so apparent there.
And it is, yes, a very, very daunting task for the entire world community to come to grips with
and overcome these ethnic troubles that are popping up in many quarters on this globe in the
recent years. And have only been subdued in the past because of the East-West conflict and the
with the East-West conflict gone, as you know, it is an observation worldwide that ethnic
troubles within individual countries are sprucing up more and more. This is a genuine concern for
the world community and that is why I have said before, one of the more important tasks of the
world community today is to establish an international criminal justice that would address those
crimes that are committed within ethnic groups and somehow stabilize a system of international
DAVIDSON: There are some Africans who have charged that the United Nations really has put
more effort into the Yugoslav war crimes court, tribunal, than it has in the tribunal in Rwanda
and that that is a part of the problem. But, is that your conclusion? Do you agree with that
PASCHKE: No, I think this accusation is unfounded. However, there is a difference that
maybe has given rise to this perception. The fact is that the international criminal tribunal for
Yugoslavia in The Hague was fully embraced, supported, and nurtured by the host country, The
Netherlands, from the first day on.
DAVIDSON: And it was also just physically prepared to handle this.
PASCHKE: Well that’s what I’m saying. The Netherlands, which is after all the host
country also for the international court of justice, is fully committed to making this
international criminal tribunal for Yugoslavia work. They have given all the support that this
tribunal needed. In Tanzania, the situation is quite different.
DAVIDSON: Where the Rwanda court is located?
PASCHKE: Arusha, where the tribunal for Rwanda is located is in Tanzania and Tanzania is
a small developing country and Arusha is a very small, provincial town. It is not, as you know,
the capital of Tanzania so we are talking here about a rather limited communications structure, a
very limited infrastructure, you don’t have the resources there, you don’t have the means to pick
up needed material right there in Arusha, so everything was much more difficult in the setting
up, in the simple administrative organization and structuring of the court in Arusha. And I
believe that this is really the reason why the Rwanda tribunal has had much more difficulties to
get going than the Yugoslavia tribunal.
DAVIDSON: Is it up to speed now, in your opinion?
PASCHKE: No, not yet. But I trust that in reaction to our report the necessary steps will
be taken and the Secretary-General himself is committed to take decisive action to make the
tribunal work and provide it with the necessary resources, both human and financial.
DAVIDSON: Do you feel that it’s more an issue of—this is an entirely new process so this
is a learning process or were there people who were deliberately trying to hold back the work of
PASCHKE: I have no evidence whatsoever that anybody dragged their feet or anything with
malicious intent to kind of doom this court from the start. That was in my view, in the view of
my investigators and auditors, not the problem. The problem was lack of expertise, lack of
professionalism and also of course, lack of experience on the part of the Secretariat in general
for the setting up of such a complex operation. To set up an international court in a small
African town with very limited resources, with a mandate that was not totally clear, is a very,
very difficult task.
DAVIDSON: Would it have been impossible to hold the Rwanda tribunal at The Hague?
PASCHKE: I’m not sure if I can give you…
DAVIDSON: I’m just wondering why it wasn’t held there in the first place.
PASCHKE: Well, first of all, I want to underline once again that this tribunal was set up
to address the international crimes being committed in Rwanda during a certain time. I think the
decision to have this court close to where it all happened was a good one. I’m doubtful if the
decision to choose this little town of Arusha for the court was particularly intelligent. But it
is a decision that was taken on the political level and we have to live with it and we have to
make it, after all, a success. But once again, I don’t think that a report that deals with
international crimes committed in central Africa should be set up in Europe. It should be near
DAVIDSON: Well hopefully, there won’t be a need for such a court again but if there is,
that some good lessons have been learned.
PASCHKE: Yes, I believe indeed. I wish these lessons had been learned earlier but yes, I
think the international community in general and the United Nations Secretariat in particular,
will draw the appropriate lessons from this experience in Rwanda and indeed, as you just said,
we just want to hope that these lessons will never have to be applied again.
DAVIDSON: United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Karl Paschke, has been my guest on
Common Ground. His office of Internal Oversight Services has been investigating why the
UN’s international criminal tribunal for Rwanda has been so slow to prosecute those accused of
helping carry out the massacre of half a million Rwandans in 1994. For Common Ground, I’m
Mary Gray Davidson.
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