International Criminal Tribunals
Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council will hold its semi-annual debate on the ad hoc international criminal tribunals. The presidents and prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are expected to brief the Council.
The ICTY President, Theodor Meron, will also brief the Council as President of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which was established to complete the work of the Tribunals. The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, will also brief the Council as Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism.
The Council may adopt a resolution extending the terms of several ICTY judges.
The Council’s informal working group on international tribunals may meet with the presidents and prosecutors prior to their appearance at the Council.
Key Recent Developments
November saw the culmination of the process for appointing an Appeals Chamber judge for the ICTY, which started on 5 March when the Council received a letter from the ICTY regarding the urgent need for the appointment. The Tribunal suggested that a replacement should be appointed by the Secretary-General after consultations with the Presidents of the Council and the General Assembly.
The informal working group on international tribunals met on 21 May and agreed on the need to appoint a judge in order for the ICTY to remain on schedule. Most Council members were comfortable with a resolution or an exchange of letters to allow the Secretary-General to fill the position, but Russia’s position was that the vacancy should be filled in accordance with the election procedure for new judges.
Eventually the Russian position was accepted, and on 12 June the Council sent a letter to the Secretary-General asking him to invite states to submit nominations to the Council for the position of judge for the ICTY Appeals Chamber (S/2013/349). The Council was then to form a list of three candidates from which the judge would be elected in the General Assembly.
The Secretary-General on 31 July provided the Council with a list of six candidates, from Australia, Austria, Estonia, Iran, Jordan and Togo (S/2013/455). Soon after, it was apparent that there was disagreement among Council members on the final three candidates. Several ideas were suggested to break the deadlock, such as a vote.
As the working group was not able to come to a consensus, Council members discussed the issue under “any other business” on 14 August. During the meeting it was agreed that the President of the Council for August (Argentina) and the chair of the working group (Guatemala) would head an effort to reach an agreement on the list.
Eventually the compromise agreed to was for the Council to submit all six candidates to the General Assembly. On 18 November, the Assembly elected Koffi Afande (Togo) to fill the vacancy.
In the meantime, the Secretary-General appointed—through an exchange of letters with the Council and after consultations with the General Assembly—Mandiaye Niang (Senegal) as a permanent judge of the ICTR on 11 September.
Council members received a letter from Meron on 30 October, requesting the extension of 16 judges’ terms for different time periods based on the predicted trial schedule of the ICTY. Meron stated that despite the target date of 31 December 2014 for the completion of the ICTY’s work as set out in resolution 1966, the Tribunal would not be able to conclude its work by that date.
The working group met with the registrar of the ICTR, Bongani Majola, on 20 November to discuss the Tribunal’s efforts to relocate acquitted and released persons to different countries.
The presidents and prosecutors of the ICTY and ICTR, last briefed the Council on 12 June (S/PV.6977), having met on 10 June with the informal working group on international tribunals.
The immediate issue for the Council will be the request relating to the extension of terms of the ICTY judges.
Another issue is the continuing review by the working group of the completion strategies of the ICTY and ICTR.
Options for the Council include:
- adopting a technical resolution extending the ICTY judges terms as requested; or
- extending judges’ terms for a shorter period of time.
Difficulties arose last December when the Council adopted resolution 2081 extending ICTY judges’ terms. At that point, Russia was critical of a recent acquittal of two Croatian generals claiming that justice was not done for their Serb victims. Russia also commented that the ICTY’s work had not been timely and effective and demanded an independent review of the Tribunal’s work and term extensions no longer than six months. Russia eventually abstained on the resolution, which included an extension of some judges’ terms for a year and asked the ICTY to submit a consolidated comprehensive plan for the completion strategy by 15 April 2013. It is unclear if these difficulties will resurface in December.
One element that may complicate Russian approval is that the expected completion date of the ICTY’s work now stretches into 2017, well beyond the initial timeframe envisioned when the Council adopted resolution 1966 on 22 December 2010.
UN Documents on International Criminal Tribunals
|Security Council Resolution|
|17 December 2012 S/RES/2081||This resolution extended the terms of 13 permanent judges of the ICTY until 31 December 2013 and the terms of eight ad litem judges for different periods of time.|
|Security Council Letters|
|18 November 2013S/2013/679||This letter transmitted the report of the residual mechanism.|
|18 November 2013S/2013/678||This letter transmitted the report on the completion strategy of the ICTY.|
|11 September 2013 S/2013/550||This was a letter from the Secretary-General on the appointment of Niang as ICTR judge.|
|9 August 2013 S/2013/474||This was a letter from the President of the Security Council on the appointment of Niang as ICTR judge.|
|6 August 2013 S/2013/471||This was a letter from the Secretary-General on the appointment of Niang as ICTR judge.|
|31 July 2013 S/2013/455||This letter was from the Secretary-General forwarding the list of candidates for the ICTY Appeals Chamber judge’s position to the Security Council.|
|12 June 2013 S/2013/349||In this letter the Council asked the Secretary-General to invite states to submit nominations to the Council for the position of judge for the ICTY appeals chamber.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|12 June 2013 S/PV.6977||This meeting featured briefings from the presidents and prosecutors of the ICTY and ICTR.|
Other Relevant Facts
Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals
Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala)
Four accused on trial and 25 at the appeals stage
Nine accused at large, of which three are considered high-ranking and 15 accused at the appeals stage