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There can be no amnesty for genocide and war crimes - Annan

There can be no amnesty for genocide and war crimes - Annan

In helping war-torn societies re-establish the rule of law and come to terms with large-scale past abuses after conflict, the United Nations must reject any amnesty for genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report made public today.

Such crimes include ethnic, gender and sexually based international crimes, and Security Council mandates should ensure that no such amnesty previously granted bar prosecution before a UN-created or assisted court, according to the report - "The rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies."

But Mr. Annan stresses that the UN not establish or directly participate in any tribunal for which capital punishment is a possible sanctions, and that it insist upon full government cooperation with international and mixed tribunals, including the surrender of accused persons.

Helping such societies, "all within a context marked by devastated institutions, exhausted resources, diminished security and a traumatized and divided population, is a daunting, often overwhelming, task," he notes.

But "justice, peace and democracy are not mutually exclusive objectives, but rather mutually reinforcing imperatives," he adds in his recommendations, requested by the Security Council at a meeting in January on post-conflict national reconciliation and the role of the United Nations. "Advancing all three in fragile post-conflict settings requires strategic planning, careful integration and sensible sequencing of activities."

Mr. Annan calls for recognizing the need to ensure gender sensitivity in restoring the rule of law, as well as ensuring the full participation of women, and for avoiding the imposition of external models.

"We must learn as well to eschew one-size-fits-all formulas and the imposition of foreign models, and, instead, base our support on national assessments, national participation and national needs and aspirations," he says, noting that recent years have seen an increased UN focus on the problem that has been "yielding important lessons for our future activities."

He pledges to instruct the Executive Committee on Peace and Security to propose concrete action to strengthen UN support for tackling the issues.