Thank you Mr. President,
We commend New Zealand for convening this historic meeting of the Council to pay tribute to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide twenty years ago. We are grateful to the briefers, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, for their respective presentations.
2. Having previously served in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I had attended the yearly commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre. It was very painful for me; particularly witnessing first-hand the sorrow and agony of the Mothers of Srebrenica, as they bury their loved ones after a painstaking process of collecting and identifying the remains found in mass graves.
3. To date, over 1,000 victims of the massacre have yet to be found. As one of the Mothers put it: “Every year, I think this is the year I will bury my son”.
4. Today’s meeting is indeed timely, not only in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica, but also in view of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
5. On this solemn occasion, I wish to convey on behalf of the people and the Government of Malaysia, our deepest and heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of those who perished at Srebrenica.
6. As the oft quoted saying goes: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. In light of the region’s troubled history and signs of rising ethno-nationalism, we believe that it is crucial for Council and the international community to send a strong signal in condemning genocide and its denial.
7. We are convinced that acceptance and the uncovering of the truth, particularly on the fate of those killed at Srebrenica would go a long way towards promoting and deepening national healing and reconciliation.
8. It was in this spirit that Malaysia had worked alongside other Council members towards achieving an outcome that would support such aspirations. We believe that the draft resolution initiated by the UK makes a serious and substantive contribution towards this end and as such, we had co-sponsored and voted in favour of the draft resolution.
9. In recalling the statements and views expressed during the Srebrenica commemoration event last week, one particular statement stands out, which is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s assessment that the UN Secretariat, the Security Council and UN Member States share the blame for failing to prevent the genocide at Srebrenica, despite the mounting warning signs.
10. I would like to believe that 20 years after Srebrenica, we have come a long way, particularly in learning from mistakes of the past. We are encouraged by the tangible improvements in the workings of the UN including improved peacekeeping capabilities, establishment of the Office of the Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention and the ongoing conversations on the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.
11. After the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and Srebrenica, we must pause to reflect and ask ourselves – how many times will the world have to bear the unfulfilled promises of “Never Again”?
12. The international community - particularly this Council - owes it to the victims and their loved ones to live up to that promise including by exercising our collective responsibility to protect civilians from the most serious international crimes and to learn from the mistakes of the past.
13. We remain concerned that lack of political will and divisions in the Council could lead to devastating tragedies at the risk of multitudes of innocent lives. In our view, tragedies such as Srebrenica could have been prevented had the Council been united and been able to muster the necessary political will.
14. Malaysia believes that ending impunity is crucial in preventing future atrocities. While we failed to prevent Srebrenica, we must at least strive to ensure that justice is served, for the victims. In this regard, Malaysia continues to support the works of the ICTY in ensuring accountability for the crimes committed during the war in the region. We urge all States to duly cooperate with the Tribunal in order for it to fully implement its mandate to completion.
15. We fully agree on the need to look forward and promote reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region as expressed by earlier speakers. In the immediate aftermath of the war, Malaysia supported Bosnia and Herzegovina in its re-construction efforts. We will continue to do so.
16. Through our investment projects, we sought to bring the various ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina together towards economic and social integration. We firmly believe that the first step towards reconciliation is to acknowledge and accept the past, in order to build a common future.
17. We owe it to the victims of Srebrenica to demonstrate that we have indeed learnt from the past, that we are now better peoples because of it, and that we will give our all to prevent such atrocities from recurring.
18. Against that backdrop, we are disappointed and deeply regret that Council was unable to overcome its division to unite and find agreement in sending a message of solidarity with all victims of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly those of Srebrenica. We fear that continued, politicised, division of this nature distorts historical facts and denies justice to the victims of genocide.
I thank you, Mr. President.