UPDATE: International Criminal Courts for the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone - A Guide to Online and Print Resources

By Amy Burchfield
Updated by Andrew Dorchak

Andrew Dorchak is Head of Reference and Foreign/International Law Specialist at The Judge Ben C. Green Law Library at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law. He has assisted law students researching international criminal law topics since 2002.

Published July/August 2017

(Previously updated by Amy Burchfield in Aug. 2008, July 2011, and July/Aug. 2014)

See the Archive Version!

1. Introduction

Despite vows of "never again" in the aftermath of the Holocaust, late twentieth century history was marked by a series of brutal conflicts that resulted in war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other serious crimes. Several international tribunals were established with the goal of prosecuting individuals who committed these crimes.

This guide focuses on online and print sources relating to the following three international criminal courts: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). The guide begins with a chart comparing key features of these three courts. The guide then examines each court individually, as well as the Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals, providing an overview of the court, the court's basic documents, case law sources, and a listing of additional print and online sources for that individual court. A list of online and print resources that deal with multiple international criminal tribunals follows. Next, there is an overview of selected topics. Finally, the last section covers educational resources, other research guides, and bibliographies.

2. Chart Comparing the Three Courts

Dates

Establishing document

Number of judges

Justiciablecrimes

Indictments

Sentences

Acquittals

Official language

Temporal constraints

Geographic constraints

ICTY

1993-2017

UN Security Council Resolution 827 (1993)

16 permanent and

up to 9 ad litem

Grave breaches of Geneva Conventions of 1949; violations of the laws of war; genocide; crimes against humanity

161

83

19

English and French (Serbo-Croat is unofficial)

Crimes committed since 1991

Territory of the former Yugoslavia

ICTR

1994-2015

UN Security Council Resolution 955 (1994)

16 permanent and 18 ad litem judges

Genocide, crimes against humanity, serious violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949

93

62

14

English and French

(Kinyarwanda is unofficial)

Crimes committed between Jan. 1, 1994 and Dec. 1994

Territory of Rwanda

SCSL

2000-2013

Agreement Between UN and Government of Sierra Leone

At least 8, and no more than 11

Crimes against humanity; violations of international humanitarian law; serious crimes under Sierra Leonean law

13

9

0

English (Krio is unofficial)

Crimes committed since Nov. 30, 1996

Territory of Sierra Leone

3. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

3.1. Overview of the Court

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established on May 25, 1993 at The Hague in The Netherlands by United Nations Security Council Resolution 827. The ICTY was authorized to prosecute persons responsible for grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws of war, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.

The ICTY was organized into three Trial Chambers (three permanent judges and up to of six ad litem judges per Chamber) and one Appeals Chamber (five judges). The Appeals Chamber of the ICTY also functioned as the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The working languages of the ICTY are English and French.

3.2. Basic Documents

The following basic documents of the ICTY are available at the Court's official website.

The ICTY basic documents are also available online at the University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.

In print, see Basic Documents International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 ([Netherlands:] United Nations, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 1995-).

Additionally, the ICTY publishes The Yearbook ([Netherlands]: United Nations, ICTY, 1995- ) documenting the activities of the ICTY and recording speeches and other background information.

3.3. Case Law

Overall, the ICTY indicted 161 individuals, sentenced 83 (including at least 20 plea bargains), and acquitted 19. Thirteen individuals (8 cases) were referred to national jurisdictions for prosecution.

MICT/ICTR/ICTY Case Law Database provides a searchable database of all the ICTY, ICTR, and MICT cases.

Cases and Judgments also are available on the ICTY legacy website.

ICTY Court Records provide access to public ICTY records from 1994-2017.

ICTY Judgment Summaries (American University Washington College of Law) provide overviews of fourteen cases.

WestlawNext, (subscription database requiring a password), has coverage of ICTY judgments, decisions, orders, indictments, transcripts, and press releases since 1995.

Judicial Reports / International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia = Recueils judiciaires / Tribunal pénal pour l'ex-Yougoslavie (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1999- ). This includes indictments, orders, decisions and judgments. It is considered the official print reporter for the ICTY, and is currently published for and on behalf of the United Nations by Brill / Martinus Nijhoff. This set runs approximately ten years behind.

Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection (Nijmegen, the Netherlands: Global Law Association, 1997- ) this commercial source includes trial transcripts, selected full-text judgments, and other materials.

3.4. Selected Print Sources & Links

ICTY Print Sources:

ICTY / Former Yugoslavia Links:

ASIL Insights Coverage:

The American Society of International Law publishes ASIL Insights, an electronic publication for brief expert legal insight and analysis on major developments in international law. The following articles have been published on the ICTY and related issues in ASIL Insights:

4. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

4.1. Overview of the Court

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established on Nov. 8, 1994 at Arusha, Tanzania by United Nations Security Council Resolution 955. The ICTR was charged with prosecuting persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of Rwanda between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1994. The ICTR also could prosecute Rwandan citizens who committed such serious crimes in neighboring countries during that same time period.

The ICTR was authorized to prosecute persons who committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Such crimes include conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to genocide, murder, torture, rape, the taking of hostages, and acts of terrorism.

The ICTR was organized into three Trial Chambers (three permanent judges and up to four ad litem judges per Chamber) and one Appeals Chamber (seven permanent judges). The working languages of the ICTR are English and French.

4.2. Basic Documents

The following basic documents of the ICTR are available at the Court's official website, on the Legal tab.

In print, see International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Basic Documents (Arusha: Tanzania: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 1999).

4.3. Case Law

Overall, the ICTR indicted 93 persons for genocide and other serious international humanitarian law violations, resulting in 56 sentences, 14 acquittals, 2 withdrawn indictments, and 5 referrals to France or Rwanda. Six people died before or during their sentence and there are 8 fugitives, 5 to be tried in Rwanda and 3 by the MICT when apprehended.

MICT/ICTR/ICTY Case Law Database provides a searchable database of all the ICTY, ICTR, and MICT cases.

Judicial Records and Archives Database offers access to all public judicial archival records of the ICTR.

Human Rights Watch, Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: A Digest of the Case Law of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda offers an unofficial, but extensive analysis of ICTR case law as of 2010.

WestlawNext, a subscription database requiring a password, has coverage of ICTR judgments, decisions, orders, and indictments from 1995 through July 2007.

Eric David (ed.), Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda: recueil des ordonnances, décisions et arrêts, 1995-1997 = International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Reports of Orders, Decisions and Judgements, 1995-1997 (Bruxelles: Bruylant, 2000). Unlike the ICTY, there is no official print reporter for the ICTR. This volume is one print source for ICTR case law.

Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection (Nijmegen, the Netherlands: Global Law Association, 1997-) This commercial source includes trial transcripts, selected full-text judgments, and other materials.

4.4. Selected Print Sources & Links

ICTR Print Sources:

ICTR / Rwanda Links:

ASIL Insights Coverage:
The American Society of International Law publishes ASIL Insights, an electronic publication for brief expert legal insight and analysis on major developments in international law. The following articles have been published on the ICTR and related issues in ASIL Insights:

5. United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals

Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010) created the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) to carry out continuing ICTR and ICTY obligations. Its Office of the Prosecutor is to locate and arrest 8 ICTR fugitives, try three (Augustin Bizimana, Protais Mpiranya, and Felicien Kabuga), and refer the other 5 to Rwanda for prosecution.

The MICT handles appeals from the ICTY, ICTR, or the MICT; reviews proceedings; and conducts retrials. It monitors and assists with cases referred to national jurisdictions. Ongoing duties also include protection of victims and witnesses, supervision on ICTY/ICTR/MICT sentences, and maintenance of the archives of ICTY/ICTR/MICT documents.

The MICT maintains a roster of 25 independent judges who serve the Mechanism after being elected by the U.N. General Assembly for a 4-year term and possible reappointment.

The MICT worked in parallel with ICTY and ICTR for its first several years, gaining experience and offering some relief, through "double-hatting" duties, for the staffing shortages that the two ad hoc tribunals were experiencing as they executed their completion strategies. The Security Council will review the MICT's efforts every two years, and it expects the MICT to be a streamlined operation, with a smaller staff and judges working remotely (except the Registry) whenever possible.

6. Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) / Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL)

6.1. Overview of the Court

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was a hybrid court established at Freetown, Sierra Leone by an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on August 14, 2000. The SCSL was authorized to prosecute persons responsible for the most serious crimes committed on the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.

The SCSL prosecuted persons who committed the following three categories of crimes: crimes against humanity, crimes in violation of international humanitarian law and serious crimes under Sierra Leonean law. The Special Court was made up of at least eight and no more than eleven judges who were organized into a Trial Chamber and an Appeals Chamber. The working language of the court was English.

The work of the SCSL concluded in December 2013, and the tribunal officially closed. The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) was established that year by an agreement between the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone to oversee ongoing legal obligations. These obligations fall into "ongoing" functions and "ad hoc" functions. Ongoing functions include archives maintenance, witness protection, and prison supervision. Ad hoc functions include the trial of Johnny Paul Koroma should he be arrested, review of convictions and acquittals, and compensation claims.

6.2. Basic Documents

All basic documents of the SCSL are available on the RSCSL website under the SCSL Documents tab. These include:

The Digest of Jurisprudence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone 2003 - 2005 by Cyril Laucci (Leiden; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 2007) abstracts 548 decisions, orders and judgments rendered by the SCLC that relate to the Statute of the Special Court and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The Digest is organized by article and rule number. A second volume of the Digest that would cover the remainder of the tribunal's work is intended for publication.

There is no official print publication of the SCSL basic documents. One print sources for the SCSL Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence is International Criminal Practice (See Multi-Court Sources-Online and In Print, this guide).

The Consolidated Legal Texts for the Special Court for Sierra Leone by Charles Jalloh (Leiden, The Netherlands; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 2007) contains the following sections: basic legal texts, regulations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Sierra Leonean legislation, and ceasefire and peace agreements.

6.3. Case Law

RSCSL Archives provides a searchable archive of cases, documents, videos and transcripts.

Print Sources (Selected Case Law)

6.4. Selected Print Sources & Links

Books:

Articles:

SCSL/Sierra Leone Links:

ASIL Insights Coverage:

The American Society of International Law publishes ASIL Insights, an electronic publication for brief expert legal insight and analysis on major developments in international law. The following articles have been published on the SCSL in ASIL Insights:

7. Multi-Court Sources - Online and in Print

Multi-Court Sources in Print:

Multi-Court Sources Online:

8. Selected Topics

Selected topics derived from the final tribunals' reports or secondary sources.

9. Educational Resources, Research Guides & Bibliographies