I feel very privileged to have been invited to open this exceptional exhibition, here at The Hague City Hall. This especially after I was honoured with the same invitation in June last year, when this exhibition was opening in Sarajevo, BiH.

Judge Carmel Agius opening exhibition Targeting Monuments in The HagueJudge Carmel Agius opening exhibition Targeting Monuments in The Hague

Indeed, at the time when Mirko Klarin – Director of the SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice, and formerly Head of the SENSE news Agency – asked me whether I would be able to say a few words at the opening, I was more than happy to accept. Not only because I consider this exhibition to be a very important one, but also because I hold Mirko, and SENSE Agency, in the highest regard. I need hardly desribe to you how happy I was when President Meron asked me to deputize for him today. I accepted with great pleasure. Incidentally President Meron sends his regards and congratulates thye organisers of this exhibition.

SENSE is the only news agency that has covered the Tribunal’s work on a daily basis from the very beginning of the ICTY’s existence, and Mirko was at the helm all of that time. He made an enormous contribution in reporting on, and providing information about the Tribunal’s judgements and decisions, in what I, and many others, consider to be a very fair and professional manner throughout.

I also wish to express support to the new endeavours of the SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice, which conceptualised and created this exhibition along with other organisations in the region and elsewhere.

Turning to the exhibition itself, I think it is a very important one. First, because it looks at the destruction of historical, cultural and religious monuments during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The destruction of cultural heritage or property is a crime designed to strike at the very identity of a people, and has featured in many of the Tribunal’s cases. Indeed, I consider the ICTY’s unequivocal statements – that such crimes constitute crimes against humanity and persecutions – to form one of its most important contributions to international criminal law. This exhibition, therefore, relates to a significant aspect of the Tribunal’s work. Its opening here in The Hague, as well as its display across the former Yugoslavia is an excellent example of how the legacy of the ICTY must and will remain relevant and impactful well beyond the closure of the Tribunal.

However, I also consider this exhibition to be important in another sense. I observe that it is a joint initiative of the SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice (from Pula, Croatia); the Documenta Centre for Dealing with the Past (from Zagreb, Croatia); the Humitarian Law Centre (from Belgrade, Serbia), the Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, BiH; and the Europa Nostra organisation from The Hague, the Netherlands. Further, the exhibition has already been opened and enjoyed in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Pula. For me, the cooperation between civil society organisations in Croatia, BiH and Serbia – and also Holland – that has taken place to make this exhibition happen, is a demonstration of the kind of cooperation that the region of the former Yugoslavia needs on all levels. I find it heartening, and inspiring, to know that you have all worked together on this project thanks to the initiative of the SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice. I continue to wish you the very best of success.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to formally open this exhibition “Targeting Monuments – Targeting History and Memory”.

Thank you all.