UPDATE: Searching through Systems — Research Guide for UN Criminal Tribunals
By Anthony Bestafka-Cruz*
Anthony Bestafka-Cruz is an associate at White & Case LLP in Washington, D.C., specializing in arbitration and litigation. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt), with a certificate of specialization in international law and was Managing Editor for the Berkeley Journal of International Law .
Published May/June 2014
See the Archive Version
Table of Contents
3. UN Documents
I. Introduction to Guide
This research guide aims to provide individuals with an understanding for how to approach topics related to the past, current, and future work of the international criminal tribunals established under the domain and supervision of the United Nations. With attention given to the broad nature and responsibilities of these ad hoc tribunals, this guide intends to give a general introduction to researching the tribunals and looking into various types of information that stem from the existence of these institutions. This includes researching information that ranges from judicial decisions to the administrative functions of these courts.
However, as academics, students, and professionals looking to access this information will often come from extremely varied backgrounds of citizenship, financial resources, and languages spoken, this guide will focus on tools that are near-universally available. For this reason, tools featured will primarily be resources that are freely available online and those that may be reasonably accessed despite one’s geographic location. Limited access tools such as subscription-based services and hard-copy sources not easily accessible will not be explored. In addition, as English is an official working language of the UN and its institutions, [  ] resources given will primarily be in English. The goal of this guide is to give a foundation from which a researcher may launch his or her unique inquiry, whether that researcher is a law student in the United States exploring the development of rape as a war crime or is a practicing attorney in Sierra Leone looking to find case law for a client’s question. This guide is not meant to detail an exclusive list of resources available, but rather to highlight the types of resources available and how to use them.
In exploring the work of UN tribunals, this guide will focus on those bodies that have been historically seen as UN criminal tribunals in the general sense as they operate under the auspices of the United Nations. [  ] As such, attention will center primarily on the five following tribunals: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Special Court for Sierra Leone, Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
o ICTY: Website
o ICTR: Website
o Special Court for Sierra Leone: Website
o Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Website
o Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: Website
Other tribunals that operate in some relation to the United Nations are not included in this guide because they are not based within the general scope of the United Nations (examples include the International Criminal Court as it is based on signatories to the Rome Statute). [  ] Furthermore, other judicial bodies are not covered as they are either very narrowly limited in their jurisdiction over legal questions or have not had sufficient time to hold hearings or complete investigations (examples include the Commission of Inquiry into the Assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto and the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya).
Although this guide will feature exclusively what has been described above as, at present, the core ad hoc criminal tribunals of the UN, the guide will attempt to forego in-depth or complete explorations of each tribunal in an effort to compile more general themes important in researching judicial institutions of the UN. In doing so, the examples are meant to be illustrative of the types of sources and problems one might come across in researching these systems. Readers should be able to apply these lessons in research to other UN tribunals and sources as they develop in the near future and thus be clued in to problems that are not faults of their particular research, but rather a sign of an international court’s structure and access.
Names and Terms of the Tribunals:
This guide uses what are the most commonly used names and abbreviations for the tribunals. As such, the names, terms, and abbreviations within the guide provide a good start for beginning any searches related to the tribunals. However, in conducting one’s own research, it is important to be mindful of the wide array of names and abbreviations, which may be used in referring to the tribunals. Due to the multiple languages of the UN, there are usually multiple official names for each tribunal. The UN has six official languages, with two of those languages (French and English) being the working languages of the UN, [  ] so documents will often be officially translated into multiple languages. This is important as court documents of these tribunals will most likely be found in these two working languages as a foundational basis for any research. In addition, however, each tribunal itself will have its own official languages that are established at the creation of the tribunal and usually reflect the need to have at least one of the official working languages of the UN and whatever language(s) may be relevant to the geographic region the tribunal’s jurisdiction relates to. [  ]
Beyond the variations in the official names of the tribunals though, researchers should also look out for improper names. Although these names are incorrect, they often appear in reputable sources and are usually more an indication of regional differences, a lack of knowledge on the part of the authors, or just a result of translation between languages. One common mistake of journalists, for example, is to refer to one of the tribunals merely as “the Hague tribunal.” [  ] This can be particularly frustrating for a researcher as many of the criminal tribunals are either located in the Hague, Netherlands, or had many of their foundational charters, rules, and other instruments drafted and ratified in that city. As such, anyone looking into the work of the tribunals should be aware both in using search terms and in reading that there may be some ambiguity in the names of the courts. Fortunately, this can usually be cleared up based on the context of either the writing by looking to see which cases are referred to or what regions are discussed. However, the difficulty in choosing search terms remains and any thorough search should always include attempts to search for variations on the names of the courts, even if those variations may be improper.
Similarly, the use of terms may vary even within the same language. These differences can at times be nothing more than an indication of a shift over time in how a concept is referred to. As a result, searches should be sure to include as many variations of terms as possible both in regard to key concepts and in the names of institutions. Synonyms like tribunal, court, chambers, war crimes, crimes against humanity and others are terms that are often used interchangeably. To ensure one’s research captures a wide portion of relevant materials, a researcher should look at ways terms may be varied and combined to enlarge the search results. In doing so, it should be kept in mind though that broader terms will result in broader and larger results whereas narrower terms will tend to lead to more discrete and fewer results. The following table depicts the type of word and phrase exchanges with synonyms that should be common in searches on this topic:
Crime Against Humanity
Human Right Violation
Joint Criminal Enterprise
Notwithstanding the usefulness of varying search terms, there are some phrases and words, which can be problematic for a person new to researching this area. One of the more problematic terms in searches is the joint use of the words “international,” “criminal” and “court.” Although each of these terms is very frequent and relevant to the topic, the existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has made these terms difficult to use in searches. Without some filtering system in place, a search with these terms might result in the results being thousands of “hits” longer. Furthermore, because of the proximity of these terms to one another in documents discussing the ICC, these results will often appear earlier in search results and can make it difficult for a general search to be productive when looking at background information or other general information. Where filtering mechanisms are available, placing the combined phrase of “international criminal court” in the “exclude” box option can help to avoid this problem.
Although the names of the tribunals are often confused, there remains a certain advantage to the names in the indications they provide to new researchers in the area. Depending on the particular area being searched, the tribunal names can help clue a researcher into the structure of the institution, where information is likely to be found, the types of information available and other useful tips. By understanding the names of the tribunals, one can more easily understand the scope, power, and placement of these tribunals within the UN and thus make finding documents easier. To date, there have been three basic movements within the structure and establishment of these UN tribunals. The first movement focused on establishing pure UN organized and administered judiciaries. As a result, the uniformity of the names in part displayed this as the ICTY and ICTR were given comparable names, structured similarly, and given a very inter-related role to one another. The second movement pulled away from this pure UN form and instead moved more toward a hybrid form of court. These courts maintained a lot of the common features of the earlier courts but increasingly sought to have more “buy-in” from the national actors the court related to and also sought to limit the mandates of the courts. As such, the names for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the Special Court for Sierra Leone help in pointing out the unique structures of these institutions and the closer affiliation with the national courts they were seeking to supplement. The third movement continued this closer affiliation with the national courts by further placing itself within the national system of the impacted country. The name for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia represents this as it indicates the court’s placement within the Cambodian judiciary is not entirely independent as the earlier courts had been. Understanding these trends and the names in the way they depict the courts can be very helpful in knowing where to begin research. For example, by understanding the structure of the Extraordinary Chambers through its name, a researcher can more easily realize that there is no need for sentence enforcement agreements with other countries as the court’s close relationship with the national system means the Cambodian government will handle sentence enforcement. [  ] In comparison, as the other tribunals are more independent, as reflected by their names, these sorts of agreements will be necessary to arrange enforcement of sentences. [  ]
(Re) searching with Multiple Languages:
Although this guide aims primarily to look at sources in English, there still remain some important considerations to have for any person looking into questions related to the ad hoc tribunals. Even in an entirely English-based source, other languages can still impact search terms, spelling, and other tasks.
One of the most overlooked nuances of researching the tribunals is the difference between British English and American English. This can equally impact a law student from the United States performing a search as it might a trained professional who has been working in The Hague for years. Because many of the judges, lawyers, administrators, and other staff of the tribunals have diverse educational backgrounds both in the United States and in the United Kingdom or former British colonies, there can be a lot of variety in spelling even within the English language. For some sources, these differences will be unimportant. However, for those sources utilizing search engines, the differences can be significant. As an example, terms like “defense” and “labor” can often result in missing documents because the British spellings of “defence” and “labour” were used and the search engines do not account for the different spellings. To be thorough, regardless of one’s educational background, it is sometimes beneficial to do a quick search and switch between British and American spellings to see if there are any important documents that results from one search and not another.
Likewise, another difficulty caused by the existence of multiple languages comes from the use of accents or other symbols. This can make searching for a term more difficult than just entering the typical English spelling. However, unlike the differences between American and British spellings, this is more often than not a problem with the search systems being used in resources. As a result, in some cases, the use of accents and symbols may present no problem for the researcher, whereas in other systems it will limit the usefulness of searches. In the end, it depends on whether the search system recognizes letters with accents as the equivalent of ones without. In some cases, the systems may have a process for getting around this in searches. As an example, with the ICTY, many of the names of individuals and locations include accents from the local languages in the Balkans region. Because the search system on the court’s website for court records does not recognize letters with accents as being equivalent to those without accents, a search for “Mladic” will not turn up documents with only “Mladić” in it. [  ] If one searches “Mladic” in the text of documents only in English, which relate to the case for Slobodan Milosevic, the search will return 261 documents. However, if one searches “Mladi?” in the same search parameters, the search will return 328 documents. In this case, the ICTY system has a search process with a “universal character” symbol built in for searching accented letters and other variations. [  ] This substantial variation in the results can make a difference for someone’s research depending on how specific of a document one is looking for. However, for a search system that does not utilize “universal character” symbols, finding words with accents in other languages can prove difficult if you are trying to retrieve the most comprehensive list of sources.
The case number in research can be very helpful in allowing one to understand the relationship a document has to others being searched. Aside from making documents easier to find and displaying what case a document relates to, the design of the case numbers for UN criminal tribunals can be timesaving and important to the research process. The codes, numbers, and structure of the case numbers often act as a marker in letting a researcher know how a case relates to rule changes, other cases, and the stage of the trial the case document takes place in. As a result, when considering documents from a tribunal researchers should consult the case numbers given to documents and use them to perform supplemental research in better understanding the area of interest.
Understanding the Case Numbers:
Although each tribunal may use slightly different case numbering systems, the majority follow a somewhat similar structure. [  ] By understanding the indicators of these case numbers, a researcher can learn several details about a document and thus the case before even opening the document. As an example, case numbers may reveal what year a case is from and thus give the researcher an idea for how many pages it will include as the older cases in a tribunal’s history will take far more pages for judges to establish the precedent and applicable law. Likewise, a researcher can know if a document is from the trial stage or appeals stage of a case as the use of “-A” or “-T” near the end of case numbers will mark a case as at the trial (“-T”) or appeal (“-A”) stage. Similarly, other codes exist to indicate the type of document one has found. [  ] In some cases, a change in the case number between documents will clue a researcher to changes in a case that might have gone unnoticed otherwise. Often, these changes indicate amended indictments, joined cases, and other procedural developments that might expand or limit the scope of searches a researcher should perform in investigating a legal question. In general, the case numbers of the tribunals tend to comply with the following format:
This example tells the researcher that the document is from the ICTY, involves a defendant indicted in 1995, and is the seventh motion pursuant to Rule 65 issued in the case.
One of the largest difficulties in researching in the area of UN criminal tribunals is that the systems can be both exclusive and inclusive of one another simultaneously. This is to say that the jurisdictions of the tribunals are discrete from one another. Each court has its own mandate and is charged with investigating, adjudicating, and sentencing crimes committed within set territories and time periods. However, although a researcher would be correct to focus on sources relating to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon while researching cases heard by that tribunal, a careful study will likely include looking into the case law of the ICTY, ICTR, and others as well since the tribunals often will cite to one another for legal authority. This fragmentation of the legal foundation for the tribunals can make the job of a researcher difficult in knowing when research can be considered complete. When tracing the development of laws, this can be particularly troublesome due to the inter-relatedness of the courts as each will likely contribute its own jurisprudence to a subject and thus have some authority relevant to a particular area of law. Similarly, the tribunals will cite to other international courts and customary law that is outside of this area of UN criminal tribunals. As a result, a researcher must rely on the analysis of articles, collections, and other secondary sources as a guide for the scope of a particular area of interest.
Likewise, the changing nature of the tribunals presents its own set of difficulties in conducting research in the topic area. As each subsequent tribunal is to an extent, a creation from the lessons learned from previously existing tribunals, the structure and nature of the courts often influences what sort of information is accessible and how that accessibility can be achieved. This fluidity of the existing tribunals and the presumed future tribunals provides the basis for the primary goal of this research guide, namely to highlight lessons and research strategies that can be utilized across the systems.
As a result of the changing nature of the tribunals and the accessibility of documents, another major problem in researching this area has been the incomplete nature of information. In the end, hard-copy sources are difficult to obtain in this area as access to documents and the finality of cases is seen as not complete until all indictments have been served and the sentences for all the accused have commenced. This feeling exists primarily because the institutions themselves are not designed to be permanent bodies of the UN. As a result, each tribunal has to explore what will become of access to its documents and records once its work is complete. [  ] Surely, any such transition will result in a new configuration for accessing and using documents and information related to the work of that particular tribunal. In the meantime, some sources have attempted to compile case law and other information on the tribunals in hard-copy form. However, as each updated collection takes time to compile, edit, and publish, these sources quickly become out-of-date as will be discussed later in this guide. This is in part a reflection of the division of cases based on when accused individuals are apprehended which in turn causes a lot of cases over a period of years to be related to one another. Another major cause of the incomplete information has been the prevalence of confidential information in court documents for the tribunals. This comes from the nature of the tribunals as both judiciaries and administrators for cases. Once a case has had its final judgment, there still are years of sentence enforcement, witness protection measures, and other decisions and orders relating to each case that may occur, requiring confidential status to remain in place for years after a case’s conclusion.
Secondary sources can be very useful in not only helping to become acquainted with the structure, history, and organization of UN criminal tribunals, but also in clueing the researcher in to particular documents, sources of law, concepts, terms, and other relevant materials important in streamlining the research process. As such, secondary sources can be useful at two different stages in the research process: 1) At the beginning when a researcher is attempting to become familiar with the subject more generally and get a sense for what the topic area involves and 2) Once a researcher has narrowed his or her area of interest and is looking to identify key concepts, materials, and terms of art relevant to the research. This section will primarily focus on the former. Ways in which sources can be used to identify materials and more information that is specific will be covered later throughout the guide.
A researcher beginning in this area must first attempt to become familiar with the structure, nature, and work of the tribunals. As finding particular documents or materials relevant to one’s research will often depend upon understanding where that information is likely to be located, academics and practitioners should first orient themselves briefly to the larger area of UN criminal tribunals. However, of course, for the academic seeking to perform a comparative analysis, using secondary sources will be even more important in identifying larger themes and trends across the tribunals.
Depending on the source, a researcher will be faced with two general methods for looking into the background information of the tribunals. In some cases, search engines and databases will allow for the researcher to perform targeted searches using select terms. In these cases, a researcher should look at ways search terms and parameters may be varied so as to maximize results with the largest selection of resources. Using the search term synonyms exercise discussed earlier in Part I.B.1 , searches should seek to move from broader terms and search inputs to narrower and more restricted searches as one begins to identify areas of interest that are relevant for research needs. [  ] Examples of this will be discussed below in highlighting different sources. In other cases, however, search engines will not be available and so this exercise will not be as useful. In those instances, the majority of the work comes with identifying collections of sources and information, which are as comprehensive as possible. Usually, these sources will link to other third-party locations, which provide more detailed information on the history, structures, and general background of the tribunals. The benefit of the collections is that they gather links and references to information and other sources that a researcher might not come across if they were to merely perform a basic search for terms on common search engines like Google, Yahoo, and others, which provide thousands of results that can be difficult to navigate through.
The most valuable source of information for the UN criminal tribunals often tends to be the websites for the tribunals themselves. Because the UN and the tribunals place transparency and support from the public as priorities, the websites often feature extensive pages (usually titled “About Us” or some equivalent) on background information for the formation, work, and purposes of the systems. These pages will contain a large array of information that includes the political history that contributed to the tribunal’s existence, the legal documents and actions that formed the creation of the tribunals, as well as the ongoing developments of cases, programs, and initiatives launched by the judiciaries. In addition, these websites will explain the administrative structures for the different organs of the tribunals and describe where particular information may be found of relevance to the court system. Also, the websites may help researchers follow ongoing work of the tribunals through news or press releases and by linking video and other multimedia.
The resources, benefits, and limitations particular to each of these tribunal websites will be discussed at more length throughout this guide as it discusses how to research case law, non-case law, and other materials. At this point though, it is important to note that the official websites of the tribunals are seen as so central to beginning any research or work related to the systems that it is common practice for lawyers, staff, and administrators of the courts to begin almost every project by first looking to the tribunal websites to begin a search. [  ]
2. Research Guides and Compilations
Research guides provide a useful source for researchers to identify primary sources and other secondary sources that are considered comprehensive and relevant to the subject area of UN criminal tribunals. Many of these guides will provide general summaries of the crimes and academic discussions most relevant to the criminal tribunals while attempting to give an overall state of the law and description of the tribunals. Although these guides will not often help in describing how to go about researching, they provide very useful starting points for finding summaries and other background information or materials.
The Duke Law Guide provides a very good example of a research guide that although it does not contain detailed summaries or background information itself, it compiles and lists other sources that either list further resources or give detailed summaries and overviews of the international criminal tribunals. This guide, like many, uses a list structure where researchers follow links to other sources and pages, which contain further information and resources. The sources include article databases, blogs for current events, books and websites of organizations. Similarly, it links to other research guides so that areas not covered by it may still be found as listed by other guides. The links are updated periodically by those in charge of maintaining the guides and include new relevant areas as they develop. In this way, the guide proves to be very helpful in identifying the types of information and materials accessible for a person just beginning his or her project.
Although guides like this can be very helpful for a new researcher, it will not help much in becoming acquainted with the area in terms of understanding the structure or work of the tribunals. Rather, one must use the guides to find other sources that better provide this information and give general background information.
The ASIL Guide serves as an example of a guide that gives general background information on the structure and work of the tribunals while providing links to primary sources and other secondary sources as relevant. Guides like this are very helpful in receiving a basic orientation to the tribunals and gaining an idea for where different types of information may be found. The guide gives overviews of the different tribunals and related international organizations, while at the same time detailing some of the history and concepts that relate to the existence of the judicial bodies. As with other guides, this one is updated periodically by the organization to include newly relevant areas and materials.
Although the guide is updated over time, the nature of it relying on links (as with other guides) means that the cited sources and links can become out-of-date. As an example, the guide links to the World Justice Information Network. This website was last updated in 2005 and so it would not provide up-to-date information on the tribunals. Furthermore, the website itself no longer properly works, as the links are not active on its pages. Thus, navigating the website has become practically impossible. Likewise, other websites like ASIL’s EISIL and other organizations present the same problems for linking to them as they change over time and the guides have no control of the websites being kept current.
As discussed earlier in this guide, books and library catalogs can be very problematic for researching in this area. Unless one is fortunate to be in The Hague, Geneva, or some other city with institutions that maintain substantial and comprehensive collections, access to hard-copy materials can be difficult. However, with the increasing use of electronic databases and scans of resources, there are some channels available for researching through published books despite geographic and financial limitations. These sources often use search engine systems that allow a researcher to look through databases of electronically available information and can prove very useful in reading on the history and larger trends of the tribunals.
WorldCat is a global electronic database that compiles information on the collections of libraries from around the world. The Advanced Feature on the search engine allows researchers to look for specific titles, authors, subjects, topics, and a host of other categories. However, as the catalog covers libraries from around the world, it is important to use filters like language to make the results manageable. In some cases, a researcher may be fortunate and be able to find a copy of the publication listed as in a nearby library or other location. For other individuals on the network of a research institution or library that subscribes to electronic services, there may be links provided to electronically scanned copies of the publication. Still, for those without this accessibility, the catalog can be useful for getting a brief introduction to the tribunals. As an example, a search in the Advanced Feature under English sources for the keywords “international” “criminal” “tribunal” will return several books and articles that give general information about the tribunals. Using the synonym exercise described in Part I.B.1 , the search results can be narrowed or broadened as the researcher likes. [  ] Although many of these books cannot be read without access to one of the subscription services, many of the books and articles will still be linked to a free electronically scanned preview of the source through Google Books or other services. [  ] Often, these “previews” contain hundreds of pages from the sources and have sections of the publication in complete form that are very useful in getting general information about the tribunals.
The size and scope of the database can be a detriment in the research process just as much as it helps to expand the researcher’s resources. As the database includes a large array of sources, narrowing down search terms and parameters can pose a challenge for someone without a narrow area of interest. Furthermore, because the work of the tribunals can often touch on and intersect with several other areas of international law (human rights organizations, humanitarian relief, political organizations, etc.) it may prove difficult to find sources just on the tribunals. In this, the size of the community working on the UN criminal tribunals can be of much assistance. As the community of academics is still relatively small, often the same authors will recur frequently. Looking for authors like Schabas, Cassese, Pocar, and others will help a researcher to navigate some of the sources and find articles or other publications by experts in the area. [  ] Furthermore, on the page for each source, there will be a window which will include other subject headings for the source. These other headings can help a researcher in finding sources that otherwise might not appear in the initial searches.
Like the WorldCat Catalog, Google Books can be very useful in gaining basic introductions to the international criminal tribunals by accessing free previews or academic publications. Google will even allow a researcher to search for only resources available in full-text which can save time by not having to go through sources where there may not be much available to read. Furthermore, even where using the search engine for Google Books may prove too much to navigate, researchers can use other catalogs, guides, and secondary sources to identify helpful books or articles and then return to Google Books to see if by chance it is available in a preview or full-text form.
Although it is easy to access and sometimes captures substantial portions of texts, the major constraint of using Google Books is that the database is very extensive and the search engine is often based in part on the popularity of a result, rather than on the exact relevance of it. As a result, searches should be very particular and use narrow terms. In this case, finding synonyms or court jargon which is unlikely to appear in non-tribunal related sources can be very helpful in narrowing results. [  ] As an example, using the tribunal term “joint criminal enterprise” as an exact phrase in combination with “international criminal tribunal” for a full-view search will result in 296 sources. However, if one searches “international criminal tribunal” and “conspiracy” in a full-view search, the results will number over 11,000.
Furthermore, another major limitation for using Google Books for individuals from different regions and countries is that although a preview or full-view source may be available in one country, it is not necessarily available in another. Differences in copyright laws impact the ability to view sources from each country. [  ] As a result, whereas Google Books might be very helpful for some individuals, it might be of little to no value for others.
Academic articles and journals are particularly helpful in exploring trends across the criminal tribunals and investigating particular subject areas. The critical nature of these sources lends itself to going in-depth and providing very comprehensive analysis of the structures and ongoing work of the tribunals. In some cases, the articles can be helpful in introducing researchers to the system as a whole. However, the real strength of these sources comes into play once a researcher has narrowed his or her area of interest to a particular area. Reading related articles and journals can regularly clue the researcher into the most current academic discussions surrounding the area of interest and help in noting the more important materials for exploring a particular subject matter. These sources will sometimes use search engine systems that allow a researcher to look through electronic databases and other times it will require looking through directories and linked headings to find a particular source. However, in order to avoid some of the faults that might be encountered by using Google Scholar (the article equivalent of Google Books) as discussed previously, researchers can also look to use resources that will provide a little more legitimacy and timeliness to one’s search.
SSRN is a unique service that collects academic writings and papers in work as submitted by authors. The nature of the collection allows its sources to be very timely and cutting edge as they are available often before the articles are officially published. As a result, the service allows researchers to have a sneak peak at upcoming publications, arguments, and materials that may be relevant to the area they are interested in. The use of a search engine system allows the collection to be very user-friendly for new researchers as they can search across topics, keywords, articles and other information to find either general information or specific types of articles. Furthermore, as the nature of the tribunals involve rapidly developing areas of law (in comparison to other types of law), these working papers can be invaluable in giving researchers an idea of the changing areas without requiring a fee as many journal collections require for already published materials.
Because of the extent of the database, there is a balance to strike between the use of broad search terms when looking for general information and yet still having a narrow enough search so as to still make sure the results are closely connected to the international tribunals. In using the tool, researchers should be careful to avoid terms that may include results outside of the UN criminal tribunals (such as only searching for “international” and “tribunals” since the database will likely include papers written on other topics with those words. In part, because the database does not search full-text, the results can be filtered by instead strategically searching in titles and abstracts. For this, a researcher must try different synonyms as discussed in Part I.B.1 as one search may result in nothing whereas another will return multiple sources. [  ] For example, searching “background” in combination with “Special Court Sierra Leone” will result in zero results, while using “history” in place of “background” will return multiple articles on the jurisprudence of the tribunal. Lastly, as the database provides access to unpublished materials, any researcher should consider the source and legitimacy of the writing or strive to find additional support before relying on statements within the texts.
The DOAJ is helpful in much the same way as SSRN is, except it is for already published articles. The collection includes published academic journals and articles from around the world that are free to access full-text writings. As a result, this source can be very useful for a starting researcher looking to get a wide array of background, history, discussion, or other types of information related to the UN tribunals. Furthermore, as the articles are already published, the DOAJ helps to alleviate any concern a researcher might have with reading papers that have not been fully vetted as SSRN is based on submissions by authors and not publishing institutions. By using a search engine, DOAJ allows a researcher to search across a large database of journals for articles on his or her area of interest. It then links the researcher to the original host website (often the publishing journal itself) for the text of the article and allows one to read the article in its original form
Although the system allows one to search directly for articles, the system can be a little misleading, as it does not necessarily search into each journal the database has access to. As an example, the Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law may be accessed through the database. By following that link to the journal’s website, one can search for
“international tribunal” in the archives of the journal and find an article on the relationship between national and international courts in prosecuting war crimes. [  ] But, if one searches even the title of the article in the DOAJ system, it will result in nothing. Because of this, researchers can search the system for keywords or abstract descriptions, but to fully explore the collection, one will need to enter into journals of interest and search using each journal’s archive or search system.
The Max Planck Institute maintains an electronic database and catalog for articles and other secondary source materials. As the institute is highly regarded in the international community, the sources listed are well maintained, regularly updated, and often are the work of leading experts in the area. As a result, researchers can place a lot of trust in materials found through the system as being important in discussions involving the international criminal tribunals. The greatest benefit of the system comes from its collection of links to sources. The Electronic Journals Library serves as a helpful tool in finding sources related to the international criminal tribunals. Because its lists are organized by journal name and subject, it is better to use the Advanced Feature, as it will allow one to search across all of the lists for relevant sources. In addition, the system provides a color-coded system of green-yellow-red to allow researchers to know which sources are available to read full-text freely (green), under limited conditions for staff (yellow), and only in part accessible (red). The links that are freely available link to external sites, which provide the information for no fee. In this way, the site is helpful as it filters for the researcher and points out channels to already freely accessible information. As an example, searching for “genocide” in titles will provide a link to an international journal on genocide studies that is freely available for full-text viewing. [  ]
Although the journals library can be helpful in identifying sources of information, the search engine is not the most responsive to beginning users. Many of the results (even when searching for broad categories like “international” and “criminal”) are very particular. Also, the keyword search does not work well as even general keywords will result in nothing (such as searching for the keywords “war crime”). This is because the keywords are tagged by the institution, so researchers are better off searching for terms in titles.
Similar to WorldCat, the website also operates book and article catalogs through the Online Public Access Catalog (books) and Documentation of Articles Database (articles) which provide substantial lists to collections of sources, but do not necessarily allow for viewing the sources. However, the same problems of requiring subscription services for full versions and limited access tend to be a problem here as well and thus limit the functionality of the site for those with limited financial resources. The use in this system over that of WorldCat or other catalogs though is that the institute has helped to identify a list of already filtered sources that have been found as particularly important in academic discussions of the tribunals. Thus, it can help a researcher narrow his or her search when looking for important materials in other subscription-based services or freely available resources.
Additionally, the structure and organization of the research tools can sometimes make it difficult to fully utilize the collection of sources, as it is not necessarily user-friendly. For the tools without a search engine system, like the Documentation of Articles Database, it can be very difficult to conduct searches because it requires clicking through rigidly organized lists of sources. Although the database offers a substantial collection listing important articles on the subjects of war crimes, international criminal courts, and other related areas, it can be difficult to use. To access these lists of articles, one must go through the Public International Law collection and scroll through the subject headings for the lists. Once an area of interest is found, clicking the link will provide the researcher with lists of articles that have been found as particularly important in the area of international criminal tribunals.
Although organizations may tend to be more limited in the areas they cover for the UN criminal tribunals, the nature of IGOs and NGOs can often be very useful as they will cover what are seen as the most urgent and pressing discussions that relate to the tribunals. These organizations can be helpful in providing current events, coverage of trials, information on programs within the regions, as well as background information surrounding the conflicts that spurred the creation of the tribunals. By occasionally checking the sites of these organizations, signing up for newsletters, and following the programs the organizations participate in, a researcher can get a sense for important discussions that are ongoing in relation to the work of the tribunals. Furthermore, these sites can be helpful in providing portals and links to basic instruments and information that form the foundation for the courts. The most difficult aspect of using these sources will be identifying the actual organizations that are likely to contain information. For this, researchers should start with larger organizations like the UN Human Rights Commission or guides and other collections that identify associated organizations either because they are linked to or because they have publications, which are cited. Aside from performing targeted browses through search engines, honing in on common organizations cited will be the best strategy in finding reliable and useful organizations with information on the background of the tribunals.
This regional organizational exemplifies the sort of organizations that exist and have the mission of providing a space for archiving the history of the events surrounding the creation of these tribunals, as well as acting as non-state actors in intellectual and legal discussions. Because of this, this institution is very helpful in retrieving news updates from the region, exploring the events and actions that led to the need for the ICTY and in gaining access to publications that provide general background information. Additionally, like many of the organizations that may be found for each of the effected regions, this one provides the ability for researchers to subscribe and receive newsletters with relevant information to the tribunals.
Though this is a useful supplement in helping a researcher find background information on tribunals, the regional nature of the organization means that the information on the site will often extend beyond areas relating to the scope of the UN tribunal as well as making it difficult to explore much into areas of the other tribunals. In this case, there are entire sections devoted to terrorism in the Balkans and discussions of Al Qaeda. [  ] Furthermore, as the organizations often operate with smaller staffs and less funding, updates will tend to be less frequent. Because of this, regional organizations should be used more for their newsletter services, occasionally scanning published writings, and as a mere supplement to doing a general or more specific search for information. However, as these organizations are often political in nature, a researcher should be careful in following any particular organization’s coverage of a matter as the treatment is often subject to bias based on the mission and goals of the organization.
Like the smaller NGOs that focus on particular regions, there also exist larger organizations committed to covering international criminal law as a whole. Radio Netherlands Worldwide is an example of one of these organizations. It can be very helpful in getting general updates on the prosecution, investigation, and occurrence of war crimes and other crimes against humanity as it covers the tribunals located within the Netherlands and many of the political agreements and conversations that take place at international institutions in The Hague. Like the regional organizations, institutions like this one will often have free subscriptions researchers can sign up for to receive updates, publications, and other information relating to the UN criminal tribunals. In this case, Radio Netherlands published the International Justice Tribune, which was a bi-monthly magazine that may be accessed electronically. The Tribune included articles and reports on the ongoing work of the international criminal tribunals. The information a researcher may gain from a cursory search of the website and the Tribune’s archives helps to supplement more in-depth searches of other resources.
Even though this organization provides more up-to-date information, the scope of the organization and all of the information it covers leaves it still basic and often times incomplete in its coverage. Due to time and resources, NGOs and IGOs like this one (even those that are well funded) will still be selective in what matters they provide coverage for. In addition, the organization of the websites and the wide array of topics discussed can make research using the websites time consuming and impractical. Lastly, as with any NGO, funding constraints may occasionally cause cuts in programs and services. It was due to financial constraints that Radio Netherlands Worldwide ceased publication of the Tribune in 2012.
Besides using NGOs that have specific coverage of particular regions, researchers can also turn to IGOs and IGO-like organizations that are more global in coverage. These organizations tend to focus on broader topics such as war crimes, human rights, or other topics and can be a good location for finding comparative information on the tribunals. In some cases, the IGOs may even be seen as the supreme institution for being unbiased on the topic. As an example, the Red Cross not only gives access to the basic documents of the tribunals, but it is also a respected source for accessing secondary articles and journals that focus on the tribunals. Usually, the sources are stored on the site itself as they are publications of the Red Cross. With this, researchers can access not only individual publications that are available, but also entire sources such as the Magazine of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. These portals and the partner websites the IGOs link to can be key in getting objective information about the work of the tribunals as they are better able to avoid the political bias that is present in many NGOs.
Despite having a substantial collection of documents, this source and many other IGOs are particular about what publications they endorse or promote. Due to political considerations and the need to avoid bias, this can sometimes limit the sources available on the sites as they will not necessarily have controversial articles or other publications on topics that have not yet been taken up by the general international community.
In addition to the previously listed types of sources, there are also directories and other types of resources that will provide access to information that will help a researcher become familiar with the area of law surrounding UN criminal tribunals. In some cases, the resources will be search engines that serve as portals for finding information maintained by third-party organizations. In other cases, the websites will be just basic collections that have been compiled by institutions to provide an introduction to the tribunals or areas of law that relate to them.
This search engine is a helpful and quick tool that allows a researcher to easily search for and quickly access information produced by human rights organizations and other institutions. The database allows a researcher to search for terms across thousands of websites and can be very helpful in finding reports, coverage, and other information relating to the international criminal tribunals. The search engine system makes it easy for researchers to search terms without knowing exactly what they are looking for and can be helpful by pulling from organizations and institutions the researcher might not have known existed or thought to have searched. In this way, the resource can be used to find organizations working on projects related to the area of interest and then the researcher can search out that organization’s website to conduct subsequent searches. As an example, searching for “international criminal tribunal” and “genocide” will result in finding that the African Legal Information Institute covers subjects relating to crimes against humanity. This can then be used by researchers to perform future searches of information.
Although the search engine system is user-friendly, the lack of filtering options can make it difficult to sort through information. For a beginning researcher, this can easily result in missing information or sources that would have been of interest. The best way to narrow results is to either use more discrete search terms or to have an idea of which organizations one would be interested in searching as the search engine allows filtering by organization type or name.
EISIL is a directory organized by ASIL. It contains lists of subject headings, which serve as directories to basic primary and secondary sources relating to particular areas of international law. There is a section on international criminal law that provides links to basic documents for the UN tribunals. As a result, this directory, and others like it, is valuable to a researcher beginning his or her search and looking for basic documents to become familiar with.
Despite the basic collection, the source has not been updated in a few years by ASIL and represents an example of the reliance collections of sources in directories have in being regularly updated in this area of law as tribunals are likely to be increasingly used and thus will require collections to be frequently updated.
As a more media-based resource than others, this source is particularly good at introducing researchers to international criminal tribunals in a different medium than traditional scholarly writings. By browsing through topics and looking for subject like tribunals and criminal procedure, researchers can find links to videos of lectures given by experts in the field. These lectures tend to be broad in the coverage they provide and a good source for learning about the background of the tribunals in particular areas. Furthermore, by seeing who the experts are, this source can also be helpful in identifying key academics and figures who would be good to look up as one is looking into further secondary sources.
For some individuals, the video nature of the lectures may make the resource less useful. Often, as they are just the experts reading from prepared notes and scripts, the lectures can be substantively the same as a writing might be, but without the ease of quoting and citing. As a result, researchers might find this tool more useful for pure background purposes whereas one looking for something they might want to cite would possibly want to look elsewhere. In addition, this limitation is further deepened by the selective nature of the lectures and the limited topics they cover.
Although law firms and other for-profit entities are rarely involved in the work of the tribunals, the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) has made a name for itself by providing counsel and assistance to state entities and organizations in the creation and operation of war crimes tribunals. As part of its efforts, the firm maintains coverage of the tribunals through its website, provides links to some resources, and even issues a bi-weekly newsletter detailing issues related to ongoing prosecution efforts. The newsletter is prepared jointly with Case Western Reserve University School of Law and allows researchers another opportunity to stay informed with ongoing developments. Articles from various news organizations are collected and reproduced, organized by region and subject. PILPG also includes a list of suggested readings from recently published articles in journals.
As PILPG is still a private entity, researchers should keep in mind that its coverage will be largely influenced by its work and what is beneficial to the firm. As such, researchers should not rely on its newsletters or resources as the only source of authority. Although the sources are all externally produced and from reputable sources, the decision on the collection may still be influenced by PILPG’s work. As a result, other sources should be consulted as well for a more thorough review.
Case Western Reserve University maintains a research portal on topics of war crimes and tribunals. As part of the portal, a research guide provides lists of subscription-based services and books that may interest researchers. However, the real strength of the portal lies in the collection of research memoranda the portal links to. These memoranda cover various topics, both specific and broad, and serve as a useful start for a researcher looking to become familiar with an area or to see a list of books and articles that would be insightful for a particular subject.
Although the portal presents a helpful start to research, there are limitations to it as the collection of memoranda are prepared by law students. As such, the collection is not necessarily compiled by experts and therefore lacks some of the credibility of other collections. In addition, the collection lists several memoranda as being limited to restricted viewing by affiliates of Case Western. As these are thus unavailable to most researchers, the collection can be frustrating where access is denied for what could be an otherwise helpful source.
Foundational documents in the form of charters, statutes, reports, and other documents will often outline the scope of the tribunals and provide the most basic details for what a tribunal is charged with handling. These documents are almost always posted on a tribunal’s website for easy access, and as such, a researcher should begin most searches on the website of the relevant tribunal. However, in some cases, documents may be more easily found through guides, compilations, or other sources if a researcher does not necessarily have an idea for what documents he or she is looking for. Regardless, these documents should be central to any researcher’s search as the contents of the foundational documents will provide explanations for the powers of a tribunal and help in framing any academic or professional inquiry. As an example, charters, statutes, and the preambles to these documents will usually detail if the tribunal has closed dates for what crimes may be investigated or if the tribunal was created with open dates. In cases where there are closed dates, the documents will usually explicitly list the dates, as is the case in the Cambodian tribunal’s preamble for the agreement that established the court. [  ]
In looking for the primary instruments and documents of any international criminal tribunal, a researcher’s search can get a head start by beginning with research guides that are available for the tribunal. Although many of the documents will be provided on a tribunal’s website (discussed later in this guide), some documents will be stored only in UN databases or simply may be difficult to locate on the websites as the navigational buttons can mislead the reader as to what may be contained on a particular page. Research guides help one find these documents by removing much of the searching from the process. These general guides will often include specific pages and collections, which focus on the subject matter of international tribunals, UN bodies, international criminal law, or some other related area. Once these sources are looked at, the guides will help identify the law for the tribunals in one of two ways. The guides will either simply list the documents that cover the basic law for the tribunals by hosting an independent link to the documents or they will provide links to the court’s website or other organizations that will be helpful in researching the law. In some cases, the guides may even provide access to information that cannot be found by looking at the court websites or any of the other standard locations. [  ] These pointers can be very helpful and save a researcher time and energy as they avoid searches in vain, convinced that the tribunal website must have the information. In addition to the guides covered previously in Part II.C.2 , [  ] there are many other guides maintained by academic institutions, NGOs and IGOs which serve as very good starting points when looking to locate the foundational documents or materials that helped lead to the formation of the UN criminal tribunals. In addition, other research guides or compilations may be found by performing web searches for terms like “guide” or “collection” in combination with the particular tribunal or area of interest.
This compilation is regularly maintained by the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University. It serves as an example of the many collections, which are often maintained by independent organizations to cover specific tribunals or areas of law. Because the program collects information from the tribunal, the UN, and many other institutions, the website can be helpful for a researcher looking to learn more information about the foundational documents of the tribunal and the actions that led to its creation. In many cases, the links on the site will direct the user to the pages of the tribunal website or other organizations, which provide free access to the information. Under the “Links” tab on the site, researchers can even find partner organizations of the site, which are likely to contain even further information and provide good sources for pursuing additional research. Lastly, as with other guides more generally, this program provides access to very helpful background information, articles, and other good secondary sources that will also help in pointing out the key documents that form the tribunal.
This collection demonstrates a common problem with many guides and collections: selectivity. Because the guides and collections are meant to be helpful starting points for users, the sources tend to not provide comprehensive materials. “Important” documents, “key” instruments, and other sources will be listed as the creators feel they are relevant or needed. Depending on the interests and goals of the institution or project, this can mean the guides will provide only a sampling of the larger collection of documents that exist. For this reason, additional research is almost always necessary. Furthermore, because the system relies on a series of navigation buttons and links, the organization of the information can be at times confusing and difficult to search through. As an example, the tab for “Tribunal News” contains the link to the agreement between the UN and Cambodia, which formed the tribunal’s existence.
This collection keeps a list of thousands of documents related to human rights, ranging from terrorism and war to immigration. However, in the arena of international criminal tribunals, the most helpful tool of the site is its collection of documents relating to the tribunals. By following the link for “Other United Nations Documents,” a researcher can find compilations of documents for individual tribunals. Within these sets, a researcher gains access to a gathering of documents independently stored by the library and available in PDF form. Documents may include the agreements that formed the tribunal, rules on the tribunal operations, as well as related political agreements surrounding the conflicts. Unlike many of the other collections and guides available though, rather than merely linking back to the tribunal’s website or to another organization, this tool also keeps separate copies of documents. For a researcher, this can make a difference should a website hosting the document become no longer available due to technical problems. Furthermore, the convenient layout of the documents with clear titles makes it easy for a researcher to not only look through the documents, but also to see what types of documents form the most substantial instruments in the creation of these tribunals. From this, researchers form an idea of the types of documents, agreements, and other materials that are important to the foundation of a tribunal. In this way, this collection and other compilations are the most useful for the beginning researcher who does not have a clear idea for what types of documents control the laws of a tribunal.
Although the source provides much benefit in keeping separate copies of documents, this means the site relies on being regularly updated to include new documents. This can lead to the site being a little more out-of-date than others as it can be difficult for the library to keep up with changes in the field of law. This is best exemplified in part by the fact that the library only has collections for the ICTY, ICTR, and Special Court for Sierra Leone (the first three tribunals to begin). The delay in providing directly stored documents will mean that this site (and others like it) will often be a behind in providing access to documents for later established tribunals.
Like many academic institutions, New York University sponsors research guides that focus on particular areas of international law. One of these research guides covers the three tribunals of the ICTY, ICTR, and Special Court for Sierra Leone. Although it does not extend to other criminal tribunals, the guide provides links to research guides that supplement it by covering those tribunals. With the three tribunals it does cover, the guide gives helpful comparative information between the tribunals as well as a substantial list of links to foundational documents. Many of these links lead researchers directly to the tribunal websites and the exact pages where the documents may be found. Although the information may be freely accessible on the tribunal websites and elsewhere, this guide and others like it are very useful to researchers unfamiliar with the tribunals. By placing the information on a single page, it allows one to look through it easily and link directly to where the information is without needing to search through the navigation bars and sub-lists that may be present on the tribunal websites. As an example, the Standard of Professional Conduct for Prosecution’s Counsel of the ICTY is embedded in the legal library of the tribunal’s website under a navigation tab titled “Miscellaneous.” One would not expect this though as the Standards for Defense Counsel receive a clearly labeled and separate navigation tab under Defense. However, the Globalex site in listing possible documents to be found at tribunals gives standards for prosecution’s conduct as an example of a document controlling the law to be found on court websites. As a result, research guides that link to the tribunal websites (even when not directly) help to clue the researcher to the fact that the information is within the site so one may have confidence in knowing the search is beneficial.
However, a researcher must be careful to not overly rely on sources such as this as the guides must be updated periodically over time and third-party websites may change in the interim. Furthermore, even though this guide explicitly links to other guides that cover areas not covered by it, the guides can be frustrating for researchers, as some will advise guides that just provide links to more guides; thus, possibly leading a researcher through multiple guides before he or she finds the documents sought.
This collection is provided by the New England School of Law in Boston. The source lists links available for accessing important documents and other basic information regarding the formation of the UN criminal tribunals. Sources like this one can be invaluable in identifying useful organizations and sites where several collections regarding the work of the tribunals may be available. By following the links posted in the collection, a researcher can easily find other sources that provide access to the most basic and substantial foundational documents.
The most important aspect of this source, and why it is listed in this guide, is that its limitations actually demonstrates for researchers how they may begin to find they have found the most important resources for conducting a search. This collection, as many of the guides and other collections do, often just provides links to other guides and in the end leads the researcher to the tribunal’s website. In this way, the limited use of this collection and others like it actually can help a researcher narrow his or her searches by giving a sense for when the most important resources have been found based on seeing them repeatedly listed in one another.
For the researcher looking for foundational documents and who already has an idea of which documents he or she needs, usually the web pages for the tribunals are the quickest and easiest place to find guaranteed copies stored for viewing. As previously mentioned, the tribunals make a goal of providing transparency. Part of this includes making the most basic of documents regularly accessible to the public. To find the documents, a researcher should start by looking for some navigation link to documents, a legal library, legal documents, or something similarly titled. In addition, as these sites will post the most important and prominent files related to the tribunal’s creation, a researcher may also find links to some key UN resolutions, reports, or other documents that led to the creation of the tribunal.
Even though the websites are a very good source for finding the most important instruments, documents surrounding the ongoing administration of the tribunal are not necessarily available to the same extent. Budget reports, funding, and other documents will not always be available for easy viewing. For these documents, a researcher may need to turn to the UN or other sources. This is discussed later in other sections of this guide. Also, because the systems tend to operate by listing and linking to documents, rather than allowing a search system, the documents posted are selective in nature. There may be documents relevant to a particular researcher’s question that the tribunal websites will not post because the administrators of the courts do not see the document as central.
Along with the basic foundational documents that establish a tribunal, a tribunal web page is also a very good source for finding other administrative and procedural documents that shape how a court’s judicial and administrative work is conducted. Usually, a researcher will find these documents in the same court records or legal library pages as those that contain the charters and statutes for the tribunals. However, some document types have become so important to the work of the tribunals, that they often receive individual pages that make it easier for a researcher to track down the information. The following are examples of documents that are available on most tribunal websites:
Because UN criminal tribunals operate both in the international sphere as well as the domestic spheres of the regions they impact and conduct business in, many of the tribunals require some authorization from the national legislatures of the countries to exercise jurisdiction. These documents highlight the relationships the tribunals have with national courts while at the same time explaining how administrative and procedural tasks are carried out. Usually, documents of this nature may be found in sections titled “Cooperation” or another name that reflects relationships with other countries or organizations.
Each tribunal is different in its structure and mandates. As a result, documents of this type are not necessarily universal for all tribunals. Some may have dozens of agreements and related national legislations to facilitate the work they perform. This can be seen in the ICTY’s large number of documents related to cooperation. Yet, other tribunals of a more hybrid or national design (discussed in Part I.B.1 ), will have less need for authorization from several countries to operate. This is best exemplified by the Cambodian tribunal’s lack of cooperation-related documents with other countries. As a result, for a researcher looking for comparable documents across the systems, sometimes there will be a limit to how many documents can actually be compared.
Some of the most useful, and often times unique, sources a researcher may need when looking at the jurisprudence of the tribunals are the rules of procedure or evidence that each tribunal has. Because the judges and lawyers comprising the tribunals come from civil and common law backgrounds, the rules and policies behind them can often be complex and very important for anyone looking to understand the way the tribunals apply a given area of law in terms of its actual presentation in the courtroom. Furthermore, because each tribunal is built from scratch, these rules are very specific to the tribunal and the goals each one has. Researchers will likely find these rules stored on pages within the tribunal websites that are devoted just to housing these documents. They are often found under sections labeled as “Internal Rules” or “Procedures.”
With each tribunal having its own set of rules and procedures, these documents can be difficult to understand in a simple search, as they require much study. Furthermore, the rules or procedures often include hundreds of clauses and sub-paragraphs that can be challenging for even the most experienced of individuals. As the documents are often viewed as entire documents, a researcher should have an idea of the particular rules and sections he or she has an interest in before turning to these documents. Also, in some cases, the statutes of the tribunals allow for the rules to be changed through review and amendment mechanisms internal to the tribunals. Because of this, researchers should look to compare rules between multiple versions as it may have changed from one trial to another. Likewise, the common law system has had some influence on the design of the tribunals, so researchers from civil law and other backgrounds should be sure to search case law for the tribunal as the rules may be interpreted by the courts in unsuspecting ways. A good example of difficulties in changing texts may be seen in a recent amendment to the ICTY Rules of Procedure regarding Rule 65(B) on Provisional Release. This rule has been changed from previous iterations by adding an additional consideration that did not explicitly exist before for granting provisional release. [  ]
Although not as important as charters, official rules, or other foundational documents, practice directions may prove to be very helpful to researchers investigating discrete and specific areas of law and how it is applied. These somewhat minor protocols issued by the tribunals can influence everything from the length of submissions to the tribunal, to accessing confidential information or making specific types of motions before the tribunal. Similar to other foundational documents, the importance of these instruments means that a researcher can usually find a section on the tribunal’s website that contains the practice directions issued. These sections are normally obvious by links to “Directions” or “Practice Directions.”
Because of the nature of practice directions, the tribunal websites will not post all directions that have ever been released. Sometimes, a subject covered by a practice direction will become more important than it was when the direction was released. In situations like this, the subject may be addressed by a new amendment to the rules of evidence or procedure. When this happens, earlier directions may be no longer applicable. For this reason, practice directions can change over time and the tribunals do not usually maintain copies no longer in use. Where older directions are sought, researchers should turn to search engines and collections, which might have the text of outdated practice directions.
Finding budget information and details on the financial operations, funding, or other aspects of tribunals can be one of the most difficult pieces of information to consistently track down. However, for some, comparing and understanding the financial operations of the tribunals can be important in discussions of policy and debates that surround the tribunals. Although these documents can be one of the more difficult pieces of information to obtain, many of the tribunals give access to documents and information related to budgets in some form. In some cases, the tribunals will post the documents directly on the website for viewing. When this is available, the information tends to be placed under the “About” heading for the tribunals. In some cases, researchers will need to look more in-depth through the website as it may not appear through the main navigation for the website. An example would be with the ICTY where there is basic data on budgets posted in the “About the ICTY” section of the website. However, one must choose the side-link for “Cost of Justice” in order to see the page detailing the information. In other cases, a tribunal may link to a separate organization for accessing budgetary information, as is the case with the Cambodian tribunal providing its budget reports through a UN organization under its “UN Documents” page.
Because matters of funding and budgets are often seen as supplementary details of the tribunals regular operations and because they are usually more associated with the UN supervision of the tribunals, availability of these documents can be inconsistent and varied as detailed above. In some cases, the information may not appear available on the website at all, so researchers must turn to search engines and other sources in hopes of tracking down the information.
Depending on the tribunal and its structure, there may still be other common documents important to the basic operations of the tribunal. These documents, much like the others covered above, will often receive similar pages within a tribunal’s website devoted to providing links to the most important documents. Some of the more common documents of this nature tend to involve regulations of the prosecutor’s office, defense counsel, and other organs of the tribunal. As the sections for other foundational documents are often clearly labeled, these documents will also be found in sections clearly marked with names that describe the area of the tribunal. However, in some cases, these documents may be placed in sections labeled generally as “Miscellaneous” or under a similar name. As a result, researchers should be sure to explore tribunal websites and browse what documents may be hidden in these more general, catchall sections.
Because these documents are not as universal with all tribunals and tend to be seen as somewhat less important in the overall operations of the tribunals, the organization and placement of the documents can sometimes be contrary to expectations. In addition, the rapid development of a tribunal from the time of creation to its active operations sometimes has an impact on the location of these miscellaneous documents, as they are not always the most visibly located on websites. One example of this is with the Cambodian tribunal, where it is obvious the quick development of the website contributed to an oversight in linking sections of the site as a section for “Other Documents” is not given as a sub-division of the “Legal Documents” section. Yet, if one enters the sub-division for “Internal Rules” or some of the other sections, the “Other Documents” section can be found as a sub-division linked on the right side of the screen along with the main sub-divisions already listed by the site. To correct for this, researchers looking for these types of documents but not finding any luck should try exploring other pages of the site to see if they can find the documents through links from non-related pages.
As the UN is the supervising institution for these international criminal tribunals, the previously discussed documents can often be found within the UN search systems for all UN-related documents. This is because the statutes and other rules for the tribunals usually require processing and being approved by the UN for implementation. However, to find many of these documents one must use searches that involve filtering through hundreds, and at times, thousands of resolutions and other documents related to the tribunals as there is no quick way of searching for even the statute of a tribunal as search terms (the tribunal name, the word statute, and other terms) will come up in several document titles and texts. This is not to say that the UN system will not be useful or necessary in finding the law of the tribunals though. Although the court websites will often be the best source for retrieving the most basic of laws for the tribunals as they are well maintained on the sites in centralized locations, the sites will still be selective to the most relevant documents. Thus, a researcher should always look to UN systems for finding other related documents.
Any researcher interested in looking at UN documents should become familiar with the codes UN documents use. These abbreviations can be invaluable to a researcher in helping to understand where a document comes from and understanding what type of document it is without needing to open each source and read the document to know. An easy source for learning the codes is the United Nations Document Research Guide. [  ]
This source is the largest and most complete system for searching through UN documents. The collection allows a researcher to search through not only the resolutions and basic agreements of UN organs, but also allows one to find the annexes and attachments of the documents. This can be particularly important as many of the UN criminal tribunals are discussed and approved through annexes to UN resolutions. For researchers seeking specific documents, the extensive list of filtering options the system has in its “New Keyword Search” allows one to look for documents based on parameters ranging from the titles and dates of documents to the UN document numbers. If a researcher does not know the exact title or details for a document, the system also allows one to search based on general keywords. This will search all fields of information for the catalog and helps to provide many documents related to a given search. By exploring searches in the system, a researcher may come across documents not linked through a tribunal’s website but still relevant to the particular inquiry he or she has. As an example of a document that would not be found elsewhere, by searching “tribunal Lebanon” as general keywords, one will find several documents touching on “letters” from the Secretary-General that discuss intentions to extend the mandate of the tribunal. [  ] Sources like this can be invaluable in getting a sense for future changes and ongoing discussions surrounding the administration of the tribunal. Because of the conditional nature of these documents, they would not necessarily be found posted elsewhere or listed as official tribunal-related documents on websites.
The main limitation to using UNBISnet is that although the system provides the most comprehensive catalog for UN documents, it does not give a full-text search of documents. As a result, a researcher will need to use more variations of search terms and parameters in hopes of getting a more complete array of related documents. For researchers with little to no idea of what terms to search for and who are not having positive results with the general keyword search, they will need to look to other sources that provide full-text searches of UN documents.
Official Document System (ODS)-UN:
This system provides a method for researchers to search the full-text of UN documents. Because of this, the system is most helpful for researchers who are not sure of the documents they are looking for but still have an idea of the general terms that would be in documents for the area of interest. By using the advanced search system, one can find documents that do not necessarily contain common terms in the title or other fields searchable in the UNBISnet system. This can be particularly helpful with documents of a more administrative function as they will often be titled and labeled as reports to particular organs of the UN. By searching the full-text, a researcher can find documents that would be otherwise missed. As an example, one can search for “judge appoint Lebanon tribunal” and find documents discussing the appointment of judges to the Lebanese tribunal. However, if he or she just searched in the titles and subjects of documents, the same documents would not come up as the information is usually embedded within larger reports submitted to the Secretary-General for approval and thus do not reflect discussions of judge appointments in the title or subject.
Although the full-text search system can be very helpful for a researcher struggling to find documents through searching title and subject fields, the scope of the search can also present difficulties for a researcher by inundating him or her with results. For this reason, researchers should be very careful which search terms they use in order to avoid needing to browse through potentially hundreds of documents. One way to do this is to use quotation marks around search terms (e.g., “ search term ”) to search for the exact phrase as opposed to any combinations of search terms. This can be particularly important when using tribunal names as the geographic terms within the tribunal names will appear frequently in all documents relating generally to that country. For example, searching for the Special Court for Sierra Leone will result in over 10,000 results. However, if one places the name in quotations, it will result in closer to only 1,000 results. Other problems with the ODS system are that the system does not search as many UN document types as UNBISnet. This can be particularly frustrating for the tribunals as there is often information in press releases and other documents for the UN, which is not searchable in this system.
In some cases, researchers may need to access agreements or treaties, which the UN as an organization is not a party to, or simply the agreement is difficult to locate in its original form. For these documents, one may need to look outside of the UN search systems previously mentioned. These documents tend to be divided along two types, which impact how they may be found: 1) general agreements amongst states and 2) specific agreements relevant to the jurisdiction of the tribunals.
In looking for general agreements amongst the international community, the UN systems (UNBISnet, ODS, and UNTS) are a good place to begin a search. However, for particularly common agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there may often be collections that list the documents for easy access without needing to use the search systems of the UN.
UNTS is a collection maintained by the UN for general treaties and agreements. By using the system, researchers can find the text of treaties as well as the status and ratification information for a treaty’s implementation. Although the system has an Advanced Search option, the feature can be cumbersome and difficult to use, so it is often easier and more convenient for researchers to use the full-text search or Title Search system when looking for the text of a treaty. As an example, merely searching “Genocide Convention” as a title and checking the “Match all these words” option will result in quickly finding the UN Convention on Preventing Genocide. Furthermore, a researcher can quickly obtain ratification and status information on the treaty by clicking the link under “Participants” in the search results and opening a window that details all reservations, declarations, and other implementing details for signatories to the treaty.
Despite the ease of using this system, not all treaties relevant to the tribunals will be accessible in this system. Some treaties will have special depositories designated for them and as a result can be more difficult to track down a full-text without a researcher knowing which entity is the depository. Yet, still, other conventions are actually resolutions passed by the UN. [  ] For these conventions, a researcher will need to use the UNBISnet or ODS systems as discussed before.
As covered earlier in this guide’s discussion of Minnesota’s Human Rights Library, this is a substantial collection of documents relating to international criminal law that can be very helpful in gaining access to documents and background information. Like many other organizations, a strong reason to use the source is the access it allows to a large collection of some of the most important conventions and agreements relevant to international criminal law. As mentioned before, the browsing format of the system allows a researcher to look through topical areas of interest and find treaties and conventions that influence judicial decisions regarding crimes ranging from forced labor to torture. Collections like this are particularly important for a new researcher with an idea of a topic but who does not know the terms of art or phrases that should be searched in one of the UN search-based systems.
Depending on how narrow or broad the topic is, a researcher should look for regional organizations with more targeted coverage or for organizations like this that maintain a more general overview of the field of law. Collections can be helpful for new researchers; but, because the collections are selective by nature, a researcher should try to find ones that are as specific to his or her area of interest as much as possible. Thus, looking at collections by regional organizations may be more helpful than relying on the broader and better-known sources.
For specific agreements related to the tribunals though, a researcher should look to the tribunal website for foundational documents as covered by this guide or to other special depositories. Because specific agreements relating to the tribunals do not always involve the international community at large, these documents are often located on these special depository sites rather than in the general UN systems. Finding the exact depository of a treaty not provided on the UNTS system can be difficult though and researchers should try to utilize organizations that maintain collections of treaties either regionally or generally.
An excellent source for agreements not amongst the larger international community is the US Institute of Peace as it keeps a collection of peace agreements between particular states dating back to 1989. The institute has a search system that allows researchers to filter documents to peace agreements and other similar documents. In addition, filters for regions help to make finding agreements on the site manageable for beginning researchers. This source can be very useful, as some agreements can prove difficult to find official depositories for the texts. As an example, the Dayton Accords do not appear on any of the main UN websites. Although the Accords were deposited with the State Department, the link for the document did not work for many years, so it could not be viewed. Using the US Institute of Peace however, a researcher could quickly access the text of the peace agreement and retrieve background information on the treaty as well.
As with most collections, this site is selective in the documents it hosts. Because of this, the source and others like it will be good for some areas and lacking in others. As an example, although the site has the later peace agreement that finally ended the conflict in Rwanda, it does not contain the earlier Arusha Accords, which was the main agreement that contributed to the most significant events of the Rwandan genocide. In situations like this, researchers must turn to search engines and other sources to find depositories or reproduced texts of treaties where possible.
Another source for accessing agreements between particular states that may be relevant to a tribunal is the INCORE system. Like the Institute of Peace, this source breaks down agreements by regions and countries involved. A researcher may find individual agreements relevant to the tribunal he or she is looking into or may even find country guides that provide even further background information. [  ] By providing independently stored documents for the agreements, a researcher can access the agreements without needing to rely on a third-party site.
Again, the nature of this source as a collection means that it will be better for some states than for others. In particular, INCORE covers agreements relating to African states very well, while regions like Asia are not as well covered.
Judgments form the most central type of information related to the tribunals, as they are, after all, the purpose for a tribunal’s existence. As a result, researchers looking into various types of questions may find it useful, or in many cases necessary, to look into the case law of a tribunal. From understanding the interpretations of laws to getting facts about what occurred during the conflicts that gave rise to the tribunals, judgments are an invaluable source in getting access to objective and extremely detailed information. Because these documents are so central, each court will make a prominent part of the tribunal website geared to accessing these documents. For the older and more established tribunals, the system will often use a search engine while younger or smaller tribunals will use a browsing system. This in part is due to the volume of documents available thus far, but it also is a result of the time the tribunal has had to establish systems for research. Regardless of the type of system though, a tribunal’s website is almost always the most up-to-date and comprehensive location for a researcher to explore case law.
For a researcher looking to find case law for a given tribunal, the first step in the process should be to identify the type of system that organizes the documents for the tribunal. This will impact the strategy a researcher takes in his or her search and may also determine how much information the researcher should know before beginning the search. In general, the tribunal websites incorporate one of three types of systems for accessing case law: 1) A browsing-based system where researchers progressively narrow the criteria for searches in pre-listed categories 2) A search-based system where one can look for documents by specific search terms and criteria 3) A hybrid system where one can use a combination of search terms within progressively narrowing categories. Each of these systems requires a slightly different approach for a researcher to take.
These systems are common for younger tribunals or for those with very limited caseloads as the number of documents will be fewer and may not yet justify the time and resources it takes to develop search-based systems. Because of this, learning how to use the systems can be very important for a person looking into newly established tribunals. A researcher should prepare by first identifying the type of documents he or she is looking for and listing the categories the document might be under. Usually, the most helpful piece of information to get started will be the case name the document is associated with, as the first categories a researcher will choose from will be this. Afterwards, one may further filter the documents by type (such as by trial, appeals, etc.) until a comprehensive list of documents appear for the researcher to browse. From there, researchers should try to use what additional information may be listed next to the links for the documents to help further narrow the search by date, document title, and other criteria that may be relevant to the search. Although not the most time efficient of systems possible, these systems can be very helpful where the internal search-based systems of a tribunal are closed to use by the general public. This is the case with the Special Court for Sierra Leone where there is a search-based system available, but its use is restricted to staff and limited members of the public.
Although the nature of these systems make them easier and quicker for tribunals to release for accessing case law, they create a very large barrier for new researchers who do not know what document is needed. Without knowing the name or type of document, researchers must go individually through the documents and search for the information they need. Doing so can be made even more time-consuming as browsing-based systems often split longer judgments and documents into several documents covering different parts of the document out of concern for the sizes of files. [  ] All of this combines to make it difficult for a researcher to know they have covered all the relevant documents without turning to secondary sources for verification or other supplements that list judgments by the topics they cover. For this reason, browsing systems often require being coupled with other sources covered by this guide in order to effectively search for relevant case law.
Searching systems tend to be more available for established tribunals as the system is necessary to search through the thousands of case law documents that might be available. For one searching for topics across several cases, the ability to be selective with search terms and criteria can save a lot of time for the researcher. In addition, the control offered by these systems often makes the tribunals using them seemingly more accessible to the public and thus easier to use than the browsing-based systems. Before using any particular search system, a researcher should first look to the system’s instruction page to become informed on how the system works. [  ] This can make a very large difference for a researcher as using natural language in a system set up for Boolean searches (“AND”, “OR”, “NOT”, and others) will not work effectively. [  ] After understanding how the system works, researchers should experiment with combinations of searches as discussed in Part I.B.1 . [  ] This is the most helpful when a researcher has an idea for specific text or criteria he or she needs in a document. Aside from specific text, the systems will often allow filtering by date, the cases involved, as well as additional categories.
Depending on the topic being looked for, researchers should be strategic in search terms used though as the systems will not necessarily provide instruction in how to best use the system. As an example, the ICTY court records system allows the public to search a substantial database of documents for the tribunal, but does not provide instruction in how to use the system. This can be problematic for someone using the system who does not know for instance that to search combined terms that are not in an exact phrase, the searcher must use Boolean operators as search cues. Unless the tribunal’s website or the search system has instruction on how to use the search system, a researcher should try using a combination of Boolean and natural language searches to first see if the system responds to one and not the other. Likewise, a researcher should consider that the databases for these systems might be more comprehensive than the website leads one to believe as often the databases are updated before the navigational buttons are. As an example, in the ICTR, the case law system is labeled as being good for documents through 2006. However, the Preface to explaining the system in the “About the ICTR” section states that the database is current through 2010. [  ] For these reasons, a researcher should always feel free to search outside of the listed constraints for a database in the chance that it may have been expanded upon since the last time the description was.
Although not as popular of an option, there have been attempts to create systems that incorporate elements of both the browsing-based system and that of the search-based system. An example of this can be seen on the Cambodian tribunal’s website. This hybrid is different from search-based systems that use categories as criteria in searching. [  ] Whereas both types include similar criteria on date, case name, and other factors for filtering a search, the hybrid system benefits from the browsing system by including many more categories within which one may search. In the case of the Cambodia tribunal, this includes the ability to search pre-categorized cases based on the legal references within the documents. As a result, a person familiar with how to use a hybrid system may have much greater control in setting the parameters of a search and better targeting documents he or she is looking for.
Where researchers gain more control in the hybrid system though, they lose by not having an easy interface to work with. The nature of maintaining a system where a link may serve as a browsing system or filter for a search means that the process for using the categories just as criteria in a search can be a bit convoluted. In the Cambodian tribunal, for example, one must click a category, and then return to an updated list of sub-categories on the right side of the screen for each new criterion to be added in a search. Only after moving through several pages to select the criteria a researcher wants, can he or she enter search terms. However, as the system is constantly producing a new browsing list with each category selected, the researcher must select the “search within results” box in order to actually search within the categories that have been chosen. Otherwise, the system will read it as a new search and the criteria will be removed. Because of this, hybrid systems are not easy to use for a beginning researcher, but once mastered, may offer more control in a search through the expanded options for criterion available.
Supplements and Summaries:
In some cases, tribunals may have supplements and summaries available for case law issued by the tribunal. Usually, these commentaries are an excellent source for understanding the jurisprudence of the tribunal, knowing which judgments were important for which areas of law, and being able to filter through the documents without needing to perform targeted searches. Good examples of this are present in the ICTY and ICTR. For those tribunals, the Judicial Supplement (1999-2004) and the Appeals Chamber Case Law Research Tool (2004-onwards) [  ] help to categorize case law and provide summaries that can be very helpful for a researcher in identifying what searches to perform.
Unfortunately, supplements and commentaries like this are often only created once a sizeable collection of case law has been produced. Due to this, researchers are unlikely to find such a source available for tribunals that are still early in the process or those that have small caseloads. In this situation, one is better off turning to secondary sources such as journal articles, books, and other scholarly writings as they are likely to provide analysis of cases important to particular topics.
Even though the tribunal websites offer the most comprehensive and updated collections for case law, a researcher may prefer to use other sources for reasons of functionality or comparative analysis. This is particularly true for researchers looking to conduct searches in which they will be comparing case law from multiple tribunals. As the tribunal websites will only offer access to that respective tribunal’s documents, third-party collections can often be more time efficient for general surveys of the tribunals as a whole. In practice, there exist annotated publications of the case law for the tribunals. But these are usually in hard-copy form and thus available only to those with library access. Still, there are electronic sources, which provide similar overviews of the case law to a more limited extent. In general, though, researchers should keep in mind that these materials would be better for tribunals that have been issuing judgments longer as it takes time to compile collections from newly released judgments. Also, different organizations will focus on particular tribunals, so one may need to turn to multiple organizations for reports on the several tribunals.
This database is not only helpful in gaining access to commentaries and overviews of case law, but it can also allow a researcher to find large array of other documents ranging from particular opinions to reports and other background information. As a result, outside of the tribunal websites, this resource provides a very good location for finding many different documents, opinions, and other materials in a single location. The advanced feature provides several options for restricting a search and is helpful in narrowing down searches to particular types of documents. This is necessary as the database collection is very large and filtering of some sort is highly suggested for even general searches. The document type is one of the more useful options to use as it allows the researcher to filter to case law opinions, commentaries, reports, or a number of other categories. One of the most valuable uses of the database is that it allows a researcher to search across multiple tribunals for case law on a particular search. As an example, a researcher interested in “command responsibility” can enter that term in an advanced search for only case law document types and find hundreds of opinions from multiple tribunals that discuss the concept.
In addition to the advanced feature, the system also has a browsing system that might be helpful for anyone looking into categories of information, but unsure of how to target a search. The number of topics and categories however can be difficult to use as there are hundreds of categories and it can take time to navigate all of the browsing lists. However, for a researcher looking to stumble across information but unsure of how to search for it, the extent of the database and use of categories can make browsing a worthwhile search. In the end though, for case law and related materials, the documents provided are limited and will tend to be only the final judgments.
Much like Refworld, WorldLII gives researchers an opportunity to use a singular search engine when looking for case law from several different tribunals. By accessing different databases and using the search system, a researcher can use a select search for a particular concept, word, or phrase and find opinions from different tribunals that contain the terms searched. However, WorldLII is best in its coverage of not just final judgments, but also decisions and other documents issued by the tribunals in the course of a case. In using the system though, researchers should be sure that they select only the databases most in line with the particular tribunals they are interested in. Otherwise, results will cover a number of other regional, national, and international courts and tribunals that are not necessarily the same as the UN criminal tribunals covered in this guide.
Because WorldLII accesses databases, its results are in part limited by what those databases contain. As a result, there will not be full coverage of every tribunal and more recent decisions and judgments may experience a large delay before they are placed in updated databases. As an example, even the ICTY database only contains documents for cases through June of 2008. [  ] This is a common result for collections of case law like this as they tend to be focused on particular tribunals. [  ]
One source for finding case law and commentaries, the Hague Justice Portal, allows researchers to search through documents, news, and other information for international law. The commentaries give general overviews of cases and track the developments of areas of law within the tribunals.
Despite being a central location, the commentaries only cover the time period for 2005 to 2011 as the site suspended operations in 2011 and was eventually ceased altogether in 2013. In addition, as the commentaries cover sporadic topics and cases, they are very good for major areas and subjects of the tribunals but will not necessarily be useful for looking into less significant subjects. Also, although there is a system for looking at commentaries alone, the system only allows looking by date for a particular month of a given year.
Digests from organizations like this can be very helpful for someone doing a comparative search of case law across the tribunals. Often, these summaries of the cases and the commentary provided will help a researcher know what cases cover and the major jurisprudence without needing to read each case for a given tribunal. The selective nature of the collections allow the summaries to focus on cases seen as the most important to development of a particular legal area, which can be useful in filtering out what might be unnecessary cases in the research process. Also, the subject topics that are used to organize the digests, helps to make it friendly for a researcher who knows the area of law they are interested in but needs to find the contributing cases. The detailed reviews and consolidation of information presented in these digests save researchers much time and energy during searches by giving a comparative overview of the case law.
Although the digests are comparative in the analysis they provide, they are still separated by tribunal. To access them, a researcher must select the filter on reports for “International Justice” and browse through the reports listed to find relevant digests for the area of interest. In addition, because the digests are posted in the same format as the hard-copy prints, scrolling through the large documents can be time consuming. For this reason, researchers should be sure to consult the table of contents for the digests in order to quickly refer to specific pages.
The basic information and reports given on this site allow a researcher to look at judgment summaries of particular cases without a fee by using a browsing feature. By looking at particular case names, a researcher is allowed to view brief descriptions of the cases and the major legal arguments present in the judgments. The summaries highlight the most significant discussions surrounding developing areas of the law and give concise details that can help a researcher understand what cases are about.
The summaries take time to produce and as a result, the collections are not fully current with case law of the tribunals. In some cases, such as the ICTR, the updates extend well into the late 2000’s whereas the ICTY stops in 2002. Furthermore, the summaries are not as available for the younger tribunals. The organization also has a “Jurisprudence Collection” which gives much more detailed summaries of cases and other documents. However, this resource is only available to those with subscription access.
Non-case law documents can cover a large spectrum of orders, decisions, and a host of other types of information. As the tribunals operate both in a judicial and administrative capacity, many of the documents issued by the court systems have nothing to do with deciding upon legal questions. Rather, often times, the documents may be procedural in dealing with witness protection, handling the detention of prisoners, or in the appointment of judges. Depending on a researcher’s topic, these documents may be just as important, or possibly more important, than the very case law that is the reason for the tribunals existing. In most circumstances, the systems that allow one to look at judgments and other case law will also make the non-case law documents available as well. For one looking to learn how to search for the documents, the previous section on case law should suffice in orienting one to the process of using the search systems. However, there are some details unique to non-case law documents, which tend to be consistent across the tribunals. As such, this guide will attempt to draw on some of those aspects to make a researcher’s search for non-case law information a little easier.
Indictments can be important in tracking the development of a specific case. As judgments will trace back to the original charges laid out in the indictments, these documents may be important in an attempt to understand how a case has changed over time. One example of this includes how case numbers may change over time as amended indictments are issued. As a result, looking up indictments will give a researcher an idea for how many different case numbers may be of relevance to a particular case. This type of research may also be important in understanding how discussions in other cases may be of relevance to the case the researcher is actually looking into. This happens a lot with tribunal cases as indictments change over time based on the timing of apprehending suspects and as a result initiating cases separately. The use of witnesses, evidence, arguments, and facts in an earlier held case may come back to influence a later case against another defendant. Indictments can help in connecting defendants and thus cases to one another, leading a researcher to consider expanding his or her scope of searches.
For the most part, searching for indictments will be very similar to looking for case law. Because of this, the same difficulties and benefits of systems discussed earlier in this guide will likely also apply to any search for indictments.
These systems will often make it easy for the researcher by allowing an option to search for only indictments. Even where this is not an option though, a researcher can likely track down indictments by assuming the word “indictment” will be in the title of the documents. Thus, by searching for that term along with any relevant defendant’s name, an indictment should be easy to locate.
In browsing systems, indictments will be found under categories either specifically for indictments or under other general ones like the “Key Filings” category on the website for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Although the browsing systems will often include indictments with other documents for any given case, a researcher can save time by quickly moving through results if they can be organized by date and thus looking at the earlier documents listed.
Orders and decisions can be very important to a search with a very narrow area of interest. These documents are often the major source for resolving legal issues short of the ultimate judgment. As a result, matters ranging from specific motions to the administration of a particular trial will be handled by these documents. For this reason, before a researcher begins to look into using orders or decisions, he or she should try to define as narrow of an interest as possible since these documents will be produced dozens of times for each defendant at each stage of a case. Some categories that will be helpful to narrowing a search include the relevant cases and subjects of the documents as these are most often incorporated into the document’s name.
The volume of documents produced as orders and decisions can make the general difficulties already discussed as posed by each type of document system even further pronounced than when searching just for judgments. Because of this, the systems with search-based systems will be much easier to use than those with only browsing as an option.
These systems will allow a researcher to add additional constraints through the use of search terms and phrases, which are likely to help narrow the results given to a manageable number of documents. If a researcher knows he or she is looking for documents on a particular motion or subject, then searching for those terms will make it much more likely to find the document with more ease.
Where a tribunal’s system only allows for browsing, a researcher may find it difficult to look through the many documents that may be orders and decisions. In some cases, the system will have filtering tools based on date or some other category that the researcher should try to utilize as much as possible. In general, though, the filters will not narrow a list of documents to the same degree the search-based systems can. In some cases, a tribunal’s website may not allow filtering beyond the case for which the document was issued. In these situations, a researcher may want to consider using the website’s search box for the website that is usually available on the home page of the website. Sometimes, search terms entered here may help in bypassing the browsing system and thus narrowing the results for a researcher, but it should not be relied upon as returning all possible results.
In some cases, documents regarding detention may not be available if the structure of the tribunal does not require it. As an example, the highly national-like nature of the Cambodian tribunal means that detention of prisoners is handled by the national agencies of Cambodia. As hybrid tribunals gain favor, this type of restriction on the scope of tribunals may become more common. However, regardless of the structure in place for detention, researchers should keep in mind that sentencing and the eventual enforcement of sentences may be delayed years into a tribunal’s existence due to extended trials and appeals. As a result, this is not necessarily an area that will lend itself to having many documents for younger tribunals still early in the prosecution stages.
Because these sorts of documents can be more administrative in nature, the locations for the files will depend on what purpose the documents serve. In cases where the documents are more legal in nature (decisions on requests for early release, etc.) the documents are more easily found in the same court records systems as previously discussed for case law, decisions, and other orders. For documents more administrative in function though, a researcher may need to look to other locations based on the information being sought.
For tribunals acting as the administrator of sentence enforcements, there will be agreements that detail the process and mechanisms. These “Agreements on Enforcement of Sentences” are mostly between states that volunteer to “host” prisoners and the tribunal, which seeks to act as the administrator of the sentence enforcement. Because of this, the documents tend to be easily found under sections of the tribunal websites labeled as “Cooperation” or “Agreements” and are usually found under the “Documents” sections previously discussed in this guide. Likewise, the tribunal’s rules on detention will often be maintained in separate sections relating to the administrative functions of the court. These sections are typically labeled as “Detention Rules” and the documents can be found using the same process as that explained in Part III.C.2 [  ] on administrative and procedural document searching. These procedural rules and agreements can be important, as they will outline to what extent the laws of the national jurisdiction serving as “host” will apply in the detention of prisoners. As an example, it is common that the tribunal’s rules on when a prisoner may apply for early release are different from that under the national jurisdiction. In this case, the agreement with the particular jurisdiction will be the document a researcher will want to consult in understanding how the two systems relate and which has priority.
Transfer orders, notifications of prison releases, and other types of information surrounding the status or conditions of detention are likely to be found in press releases and news. In some cases, there may be an order designating the state a prisoner will serve his or her sentence, but the most current information concerning where prisoners are will be found by checking the news and other status information pages. These status pages may sometimes be under the news headings for a tribunal (as is the case with the ICTR) or they may be kept with the other administrative and procedural documents (like on the ICTY website). Researchers should explore a website and look under all sections as some system for giving the status of prisoners is likely to be available to the public. On the other hand, press release pages will require browsing through the archives of previous releases and looking for ones on the subject of detention.
Researchers looking into the actual sentencing of prisoners will be more likely to find relevant information in the decisions, orders, and judgments found in the legal libraries of the tribunal websites. In many cases though, decisions on the commutation, early release, or provisional release of prisoners will be unavailable to the public as the documents will contain too much confidential information and in many cases are denied, having no impact on the sentence given to a prisoner. Searching document titles for keywords like commutation, early release, and provisional release will help in narrowing decisions and orders to only those relevant to the subject of detention. This will often produce a more manageable list of sources, but requires a search-based system to work. Otherwise, researchers must browse through documents relying only on the filters for cases to help.
In the chance that a researcher may need to know information regarding a judge’s tenure or the makeup of a chamber hearing a case, there are a few different options available to retrieve this information. As with other areas though, a researcher must consider where the information is likely to be located based on its type. For information on judges, a researcher should ask if he or she is looking for information on assignments to cases or on assignments to positions, as this will shape where the search should begin.
A judge’s assignment to a particular case or hearing is typically done through orders and decisions. As such, a researcher can expect to use the systems outlined in this guide on searching court records to find when and how a judge was assigned to a particular case. These documents are issued early in the procedural stages of a trial. For those using a search system, looking for documents with the term “appoint” or “assign” will generally provide a list of orders placing judges on cases. Likewise, looking for “recuse” or “disqualify” will help in finding orders removing judges from cases. Where search-based systems are not present though, the process can be more tedious and drawn out as the researcher must browse through case documents and look for the order. This can be surprisingly difficult as before a judge is ever assigned to a case, there may be several administrative documents issued by the registry or other administrative head of the tribunal. In some cases, where the court lists important filings, as with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a researcher may find luck in bypassing the browsing by looking through “Key Filings” or other such categories and finding the orders assigning judges located there. Yet, still, this requires the tribunal to consider this as the type of document appropriate as an important filing. In some instances, like that of the Sierra Leone tribunal, this is not the case. To find the assignment of judges there, one must look to press releases, which record the assignment of judges to a case or chamber.
News and press releases are often the easiest way to find information on the general assignment of judges to tribunals. However, even these systems cannot be trusted to accurately capture every last appointment as at times, interim events may impact assignments. As an example, in looking at the ICTY press releases, a researcher might find several documents commenting on the appointment of judges to the tribunal. But, in some cases, the releases will give an appointment date but not the actual starting date and vise-versa. This can be particularly problematic where the UN has allowed interim judges to be appointed, as it is possible that months might pass between the two dates given. Sometimes, a researcher may be helped with finding this information if there are information pages on judges, which will provide details of their appointment and work at the tribunal.
Beyond using the resources on the tribunal websites, the UN systems may also be of use to someone looking into the assignments of judges to the tribunals. While assignments to cases are legal in nature and thus only posted by the tribunals, the appointment of judges to the tribunals is administrative. As a result, these decisions must be approved by the UN and so they might be found in resolutions and other documents of the UN. For a researcher who is finding it difficult to get the information they seek on a particular judge, looking to these documents can be helpful in understanding what the qualifications of a judge were, when they were appointed, and what the process was like. Using the UN systems, as mentioned earlier in this guide, will require using selective search terms aimed at returning results in a manageable way. This will be very important as in many cases, the files regarding judge appointments will be issued by the Secretary-General’s office or be in the form of press releases and as such do not necessarily have common terms like “appointment” or “judge” in the title. For this reason, a researcher looking into this area should try to browse documents by opening them and checking the subject headings to see if it might be of relevance.
In legal research, understanding citations can be a very useful tool for researchers. From using secondary sources to reading through case law of the tribunals, this tool can help a researcher looking for additional information. By checking the citations, one can find other documents and sources that might not have appeared in initial searches. However, unlike when researching the case law of a national system, researchers will be required to have a little more flexibility in reading and understanding citations. In most cases, the tribunals will not have a uniform system of citation. Rather, each team of drafters working for the prosecution, defense, and chambers may have separate guides for how to cite documents or they may just follow whatever educational background the drafter is most familiar with. In most cases, this should not impact the ability of a researcher to understand what a citation is referring to. But, at the very least, researchers preparing a piece of writing should be sure not to rely on the formats given in judgments and other documents as being appropriate for use in the researcher’s own system. Rather, each researcher should refer to citation guides in drafting his or her work. Which guide one uses will largely depend on geographic location and what type of writing is being done.
Confidentiality is an important issue that researchers should always keep in mind when performing searches. This is important not only in understanding what documents may be available, but also in knowing what to expect in documents of the tribunals. Due to the sensitive nature of the crimes and the concerns victims and witnesses share, maintaining confidential information is an important factor in determining what kind of information may be accessible. Confidentiality may cause judgments to be available only in redacted versions or it may cause documents not to be available at all because an overwhelming percentage of the document is considered confidential. To have a sense for whether a document is heavily impacted by confidentiality, a researcher should first try to understand the position of a document. As an example, a trial judgment is often easier to provide a publicly redacted version for as there is so much substance to discuss, the drafters can easily omit confidential sections for certain legal questions without impacting the ability of the public to follow the rationale of the judgment in coming to its conclusion. However, in appeals cases and smaller decisions, this can be much more difficult for judges to accomplish as the questions are far more discrete and omitting sections due to confidentiality might remove all rationale from the opinion. Because of this, these smaller documents and appeals cases are often much more likely to remain in confidential status until the confidential status has been lifted. As a result, researchers may often just need to wait for publicly redacted versions to be released or know that the document is not accessible due to the indefinite confidentiality that is attached to the document’s information.
Confidentiality is also important in shaping what a researcher may write based on his or her findings. Although it is safe to assume a researcher is cleared to use information obtained through a tribunal’s court system, researchers should be careful of using information provided in secondary sources or third-party sites without having some confidence in the reputation of the source. This is because the tribunals have become increasingly sensitive about documents and information that are somehow leaked and then in turn journalists, academics, and others publish statements based on that information. Although the increase in the number of contempt of court cases brought by the tribunals is more aimed at intentional breaches of confidentiality by persons, a researcher should still be careful about using documents that may have been posted or re-published without properly checking the confidential status of the document.
Even though this guide strives to provide general advice that will be applicable to future tribunals and to tribunals through the different stages they go through, there will be some changes that will dramatically impact how one should go about researching the tribunal. One of the most significant changes a tribunal will go through to this effect (and one many experts are eagerly waiting to see how it unfolds for some of the current tribunals) is the change each tribunal must go through when it finally ceases regular operations and transitions into a residual mechanism. Already, this is beginning to occur with plans under way for the ICTY and ICTR to run down the tribunals and bring cases to a close. [  ] As individual tribunals cease operations, annotated collections and other summaries will be much more likely available as the problems of confidentiality, updating, and ongoing developments will become less of a barrier to publishing these collections for permanent and final use. Additionally, although tribunal websites are the main resources looked at currently, the seeming finality of jurisprudence once a tribunal has closed will lend itself to NGOs and IGOs being able to provide the main access to archived systems. Likely, academic institutions and other important regional organizations will play a large role in this transition, especially in areas where the UN does not establish resources itself.
However, as indicated by the establishment of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), the UN intends to continue to serve as a direct provider for access to documents and materials important to the jurisprudence of the criminal tribunals. At present, the MICT only addresses the closing actions for the ICTY and the ICTR; however, one can easily imagine that, if successful, the UN will seek to include the other tribunals or set up similar institutions for them. As the tribunals cease operations, these residual institutions will likely serve as the primary outlet for accessing materials.
As with tribunal websites, the Mechanism’s website creates a centralized portal where one can access case-related documents and other administrative and historical information. The MICT is charged with carrying on ad hoc functions for trials still ongoing and as such assigns MICT-specific case numbers to proceedings, links to case law and amended rules of evidence and procedure, and posts other documents bearing on trials. The most noteworthy addition the Mechanism has created though is the ICTR/ICTY Case Law Database, which serves as a central database for judgments and decisions. The database allows users to sort documents according to the case or subject the document relates to and users can group similarly themed documents by using category columns.
Despite the centralized system, the database only keeps documents for the Appeals Chambers of the ICTY (since 1997) and the ICTR (since 2004). This means that for trial documents prior to these dates, a researcher will still need to access the tribunal websites. Furthermore, although the structure to the database allows users wide functionality in grouping and filtering documents, the layout for the system can be difficult to use for visually scanning through documents.
Similarly, with the permanent status of institutions like the International Criminal Court and the lasting mechanisms that have been created as a result, there has been increasing interest in establishing a central database that will be effective in maintaining documents for all tribunals in the area of international criminal law. Already, there are some efforts underway to create functional systems that allow for legal research between the systems in one central source. A model and interim source for this possible tool in the future has been the ICC’s Legal Tools Database.
This system has developed out of the ongoing work of the ICC and having a need to collect the jurisprudence of different national and international criminal tribunals. As such, the database has collected documents from both national courts and the tribunals covered by this guide. Through its browsing-based system, the database allows a researcher to look through categories of information and find independently stored files of documents relevant to international criminal law. In a way, the tool has become a sort of single-stop location for many files from different tribunals. Because of this, the system seems like an ideal model for what might be a centralized document system for all UN criminal tribunals in the future, thereby making research significantly more uniform.
Although this tool is becoming a very useful resource for researchers, the volume of documents it aspires to collect has left it a little slow to catch on for researchers. One reason for this has been that the browsing system (while already cumbersome to use by design) has been further slowed by the lack of document names for many of the files. Often, the document links are labeled by the UN document numbers, which provide no explanation for the subject of the document. In other cases, the database is still catching up to collecting all the relevant documents to a particular area of the law. This, combined with the lack of a search mechanism, means that the database still has areas to improve before it might become the primary resource for looking into questions regarding the criminal tribunals.
In general, the independent nature of the UN criminal tribunals means that each tribunal often works in its own enclosed system. These systems tend to have organizations, personnel, experts, national counterparts, and a host of other entities all meant to facilitate and cooperate in the operations of the tribunal. As a result, the systems in place for researching a tribunal or the content of its work are often as decentralized and unique as the bodies that form the larger system as a whole. This means that any research project involving a tribunal will likely result in the researcher needing to use several different resources to gather information of relevance.
However, as splintered as these systems might be, the commonality of the purposes and goals of these tribunals as well as the small community of experts, judges and others who comprise the courts means that there are trends that can help a researcher in his or her search. These tools complement one another to an extent such that researchers should really strive to be aware of how the sources help fill in gaps of one another and how on the whole they might be used in coordination to find important information.
With this in mind, researchers should use this guide as an indicator of some of the difficulties and processes that may come up in any search. By looking to the examples provided, the goal of this guide is to provide a roadmap to understanding recommended strategies in research and thus make the process of research a little bit easier.
Although the growth of hybrid tribunals indicates that the need and desire for fully internationalized ad-hoc criminal tribunals might be on the decline, political situations make it increasingly likely that tribunals in some form are here to stay. These tribunals, regardless of type and structure, use a population of highly trained lawyers, diplomats, staff members and others who rotate between the offices while living and working in a small professional community. As a result, the trends that form the basis of this guide are often learned and re-enforced by community members such that this guide is likely to be of use for some time in the future.
List of Resources Used
Guides and Collections:
Journals, Articles, Working Papers:
Books and Library Catalogs:
Regional & Topical Organizations:
Other Electronic Sources:
Treaties and Agreements:
Case Law Opinions and Judgments:
[  ] UN Official Languages, UN at a Glance, United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/languages.shtml (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] See International Law, United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/law/index.shtml (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (listing only five criminal tribunals as UN international courts and tribunals).
[  ] See Structure of the Court, Int’l Crim. Ct., http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Structure+of+the+Court/ (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (stating that “[t]he Court is not part of the United Nations…”).
[  ] See What are the official languages of the tribunal?, Ask the Tribunal, Spec. Trib. for Leb., http://www.stl-tsl.org/en/ask-the-tribunal/what-are-the-official-languages-of-the-tribunal (last visited Mar. 10, 2014); see also About the ICTY, Int’l Crim. Trib. for the former Yugoslavia, http://www.icty.org/sid/165 (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (describing the reasons for having multiple languages for the tribunal documents to provide both administrative functionality to the court and importance for the affected regions). Similarly, these official languages may be found within the statutes for the tribunals. See Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone art. 24, Jan. 16, 2002, available at http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=uClnd1MJeEw%3D& ( last visited Mar. 10, 2014); see also Agreement Between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia Concerning the Prosecution Under Cambodian Law of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea art. 26, June 6, 2003, 2329 UNTS I-41723 [hereinafter Cambodian Agreement], available at http://www.eccc.gov.kh/sites/default/files/legal-documents/Agreement_between_UN_and_RGC.pdf (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] Mladic to boycott Hague tribunal hearing, says lawyer, B.B.C. News, July 3, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14009104 (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (exemplifying example of how respected news sources may use improper names for the tribunals and thus make it difficult in researching by relying on court names). Even the most familiar employees of the tribunals can disagree on the proper spelling or terminology of the tribunals. As an example, the Author was once in a discussion between two experienced lawyers working at the ICTY where they disagreed over whether “former” in the court name should be capitalized or not.
[  ] News Release, Request for Enforcement of Sentence, Extraordinary Chambers in the Cts. of Cambodia, Mar. 2012, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/articles/request-enforcement-sentence (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (describing how the Ministry of Interior for Cambodia will handle sentence enforcement).
[  ] See, e.g., Member States Cooperation, Int’l Crim. Trib. for the former Yugoslavia, http://www.icty.org/sid/137#sentences (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] The use of “?” in place of a letter in the ICTY system serves as a universal character and results in capturing accented letters and other spellings as well. See also How to Search for Documents, ICTR Basic Documents & Case Law (1995-2006), Int’l Crim. Trib. for Rwanda, http://www.ictrcaselaw.org/PublicHelp.aspx (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] The only tribunal not using a similar case numbering system to date is the Cambodian tribunal. This is likely due to the extremely national nature of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Instead, the courts there use a system modeled simply on the sequence number of the cases (e.g. Case 001, Case 002, etc.) However, even with this, the cases still use similar document type codes indicating appeals, trials, indictments, and other stages of a proceeding.
[  ] Tribunals will maintain a list of different codes to refer to types of documents. Codes like “-I” for indictments or “-R” for decisions relating to motions based on particular rules are common across the systems.
[  ] Completing the ICTY’s Work: the Residual Mechanism, About the ICTY, Int’l Crim. Trib. for the former Yugoslavia, http://www.icty.org/sid/10874 (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (describing how one of the primary goals of residual mechanisms after the close of a tribunal is to be “responsible for the preservation and management of the [tribunal’s] archives, and for facilitating access to them.”).
[  ] This statement is based on a questionnaire that was sent out by the Author to colleagues representing at least four of the five tribunals. Each person’s response mentioned that the first source they turn to for research related to the tribunals is the relevant official tribunal website.
[  ] See, e.g., Robert Cryer, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010) (found on WorldCat with the above described search and offers a substantial preview of the first 200 pages of the book).
[  ] For other listings of prominent authors and scholars in the area, researchers could also look to collections of individual articles and papers. See, e.g., Scholarly Writings of Faculty Members, United Nations Audio Visual Library of International Law, http://heinonlinebackup.com/HOLtest/UNLAV (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] See Gaelle Faure, French Court Shuts Down Google Books Project, L.A. Times, Dec. 19, 2009 http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/19/world/la-fg-france-google19-2009dec19 (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (describing how google books results may be limited by copyright laws of countries either preventing outright viewing of those published or restricting access to within that particular country based on IP addresses).
[  ] See World Terrorism and the Balkans, Centre for Peace in the Balkans, http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=/content/wtb/wtb_main.incl (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (providing links to several articles and publications on Osama bin Laden and the US war on terror).
[  ] See, e.g., Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale Univ., http://www.yale.edu/cgp/photographs.html (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (providing links to photographs and other multimedia not directly accessible on the tribunal or UN websites).
[  ] Amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, IT/275 (Int’l Crim. Trib. for the Former Yugoslavia, Oct. 21, 2011), available at http://www.icty.org/x/file/Legal%20Library/Rules_procedure_evidence/it_275_111021e.pdf (last visited Mar. 10, 2014). Also, this amendment to the rule was created due to disagreements over the interpretations of earlier trial chambers in the ICTY, which had stated this requirement as being present already in the rules.
[  ] United Nations Documentation Research Guide, Dag Hammarskjold Library, http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resguide/symbol.htm (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] It should be noted that although these guides may be helpful, many of the links on the website do not work. As a result, a researcher may need to use the main navigation links for INCORE’s website in order to access the guides through the Conflict Data Service (CDS) as listed in the website’s resources.
[  ] See Prosecutor v. Fofana & Kondewa (CDF Case), Case No. SCSL-04-14-T (Spec. Ct. Sierra Leone, Aug. 2, 2007), available at http://www.sc-sl.org/CASES/ProsecutorvsFofanaandKondewaCDFCase/TrialChamberJudgement/tabid/175/Default.aspx (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (listing the judgment into ten separate files at a combined total of over 290 pages).
[  ] For an overview of Boolean operators, researchers should consult guides on Boolean searches. See, e.g., Boolean Operators Guide, Univ. Nevada-Reno, http://knowledgecenter.unr.edu/help/using/booltips.aspx (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] See Preface, ICTR Basic Documents & Case Law (1995-2006), Int’l Crim. Trib. for Rwanda, http://www.ictrcaselaw.org/ContentPage.aspx (l ast visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] Int’l Crim. Trib. Former Yugoslavia Database, WorldLII, available at http://www.worldlii.org/int/cases/ICTY/ (last visited Mar. 10, 2014).
[  ] See Studie- en Informatiecentrum Mensenrechten (SIM) Case Law Database, Neth. Inst. Hum. Rts.: Utrecht Sch. L., http://sim.law.uu.nl/sim/caselaw/tribunalen.nsf/%28Accused_All%29?OpenView (last visited Mar. 10, 2014) (where the Database only includes case law for the ICTY and ICTR).