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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is a body of the United Nations established to prosecute war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. The tribunal functions as an ad-hoc independent court and is located in The Hague.

It was established by Resolution 827 of the UN Security Council, which was passed on 25 May 1993. It has jurisdiction over certain types of crime committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide and crime against humanity. It can try only individuals, not organizations, governments, etc. The maximum sentence it can impose is life imprisonment. Various countries have signed agreements with the UN to carry out custodial sentences.

Table of contents
1 Organization
2 Criticisms of the Court
3 Indictees
4 See also
5 External Links


The Tribunal employs some 1,200 staff. Its main organisational components are Chambers, Registry and the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP).

Chambers encompasses the judges, their aides and such elements as the Victims and Witness Unit, which is responsible for transport and accommodation of those who appear to testify. The Tribunal operates three Trial Chambers and one Appeals Chamber (which also functions as the Appeals Chamber for the ICTR); the Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber is also the President of the Tribunal as a whole. Currently, this is Theodor Meron (USA; since 2002). His predecessors were Gabrielle Kirk-McDonald (USA; 1994-1999) and Claude Jorda (France; 1999-2002).

Registry is responsible for handling the administration of the Tribunal; activities include keeping court records, translating court documents, operating the Public Information Section, and such general duties as payroll administration, personnel management and procurement. It is headed by the Registrar, currently Hans Holthuis (Netherlands; since 2000). His predecessor was Dorothée de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh (Netherlands; 1995-2000).

The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for investigating crimes, gathering evidence and prosecuting indictees. It is headed by the Prosecutor, who also serves as the Prosecutor of the ICTR. The current Prosecutor is Carla del Ponte (Switzerland; since 1999). Previous Prosecutors have been Ramón Escovar-Salom (Venezuela; 1993-1994), Richard Goldstone (South Africa; 1994-1996), and Louise Arbour (Canada; 1996-1999).

Criticisms of the Court

Some of the criticisms levelled against the court include:

NATO involvement

Further, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said the following about the court:

NATO countries are those that have provided the finance to set up the Tribunal, we are amongst the majority financiers, and of course to build a second chamber so that prosecutions can be speeded up so let me assure that we and the Tribunal are all one on this, we want to see war criminals brought to justice and I am certain that when Justice Arbour goes to Kosovo and looks at the facts she will be indicting people of Yugoslav nationality and I don't anticipate any others at this stage.

Mr. Shea's certainty appears to have been justified, since complaints over NATO war crimes were dismissed by the tribunal who claimed they had no jurisidiction over NATO.

In December 2003, Wesley Clark testified behind closed doors during Slobodan Milošević's trial. In the 1990s, Clark had spoken with Milosevic for more than 100 hours in his role as the head of the U.S. military team during the Dayton Agreement negotiations and as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

Critics of the court took Clark's testimony as a prime example of the court's flaws. During Clark's cross-examination by Milosevic the following exchange is found:

MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] General Clark, is it true that in an interview that you gave for The New Yorker on the 17th of November, you said that the war that you waged was technically illegal?

[Judge Richard May, presiding, cuts Milošević off and some back and forth follows between the two, in which Judge May reminds Milošević that since Milošević is cross-examining General Clark, he can only address matters regarding which the witness was asked to testify during the examination in chief by the prosecutions counsel. Since the legality of the NATO military action was not discussed during examination in chief, the rules of procedure do not permit Milošević to raise that issue during cross-examination. At the end of the exchange, Milošević asks:]

MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] So I cannot ask him anything at all about the war waged by NATO against Yugoslavia. Is that what you're saying?


MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] Well, Mr. May, that really is an example showing that this is truly nothing more than a farce.

[Arguably, Judge May expressed himself badly. Milošević would have been allowed to ask General Clark about the legality of the NATO military action if he had himself called General Clark as a witness and examined him in chief on another occasion.]


Some of the notable indictees include but are not limited to:

See also

External Links