After 20 Years of Existence, ICTY and ICTR Begin Preparations to Close
On June 5, 2014, Judge Theodor Meron, President of the ICTY, and Judge Vagn Joensen, President of the ICTR, addressed the 15 member Security Council on the work each tribunal has accomplished over the past twenty years of existence. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established after the 1994 genocide where 800,000 men, women, and children – “overwhelmingly Tutsi, moderate Hutu and Twa” – were systematically killed over the course of 100 days, and the tribunal marked 20 years of existence in April 2014. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established to deal with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans during the 1990’s and will mark 20 years in existence on November 8, 2014.
Judge Theodor Meron, President of the ICTY, stated
Since its establishment by this council the ICTY has been the subject of diverse and ambitious expectations. For some observers the tribunals were the means by which victims and witnesses of horrific crimes have had and continue to have an opportunity to be heard and an opportunity to obtain a sense of justice.
Judge Vagn Joensen, President of the ICTR, stated
Rwanda’s achievements over past 20 years are quite impressive, including the creation of stable and functioning government whose commitment to national reconciliation and strengthening of the rule of law can be seen through one example of its vigorous effort to rebuild its justice system. 8 November 2014 will mark 20 years since this esteem Council saw it fit at the initial request of Rwanda to create this international tribunal. We hope that the international community will use this occasion as an opportunity to mark Rwanda’s achievements, as well as to further study the lessons learned from what was only an experiment in the international justice in 1994.
The representatives of both tribunals further called on the need for Member States to cooperate to support the efforts accomplished so far and to complete what remains to be done, after the tribunals close, including apprehension of the remaining fugitives. Judge Meron further noted that international tribunals alone cannot solve “long-running historical conflicts;” they must be part of a “panoply of transitional justice measures.”
Currently, the tribunals are working closely with the Mechanism to transition the remaining responsibilities, including services to vulnerable victims and witnesses, supervising the enforcement of sentences across two continents, and addressing requests for assistance from national jurisdictions. The Mechanism’s archives section works closely with ICTY and ICTR on the preparation and transfer of records to the custody of the Mechanism.
- Digital Video: Report of the UN Criminal Tribunals to Security Council, held at the UN Headquarters in New York City (June 5, 2014).
- UN Tribunals Crucial for Delivering Justice for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia, Security Council Told, UN News Centre (June 5, 2014).
- Judge Theodor Meron, President, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, President, Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Address to the U.N. Security Council (June 5, 2014).
- Bradley McAllister, UN Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia Praised at Security Council Meeting, JURIST: Paper Chase (June 6, 2014).