Dutch minister leads lobby at UN for MH17 tribunal

United Nations headquartersForeign affairs minister Bert Koenders hopes to address the United Nations in New York on Wednesday night in an effort to win Security Council support for a tribunal to try those responsible for bringing down flight MH17.

However, the minister faces a ‘very difficult task’, Dutch media say, adding that Russia’s pledge to vote against the proposal means it is a likely non-starter.

The minister is meeting his counterparts from Malaysia, Ukraine, Australia and Belgium and a representative of New Zealand, which currently holds the presidency of the Security Council. He also has a meeting with UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, the foreign affairs ministry said.

‘For me, the main priority is to ensure justice for the victims and their families and to do everything in our power to hold the perpetrators to account,’ Koenders said in a statement prior to his departure.

The MH17 disaster is a concern for the entire international community, he said. ‘Civil aviation safety is of great importance to everyone, not just the countries affected by the MH17 disaster,’ he said.

A UN tribunal would enable the scope of the ongoing investigation into the crash to be broadened and countries can be compelled to extradite suspects.


However, critics point to the high price tag attached to the current tribunals, such as the Lebanon tribunal to investigate the murder of Lebanese prime minister Hariri. It has so far cost €400m and brought no one to justice, lawyer Goran Sluiter told the NRC last month.

Moscow has also made it clear that it considers a tribunal to be ‘confrontational and counter-productive’ and will veto the proposal.

Pro-Russian rebels are thought to be responsible for shooting down MH17 over eastern Ukraine over a year ago, killing all 298 people on board.

The Dutch safety council is currently leading the investigation into the disaster.

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