International Criminal Tribunals
Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council expects to hold its semi-annual debate on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which was established in 2010 to carry out the remaining essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after their respective closures. The IRMCT’s president, Judge Theodor Meron, is expected to brief the Council during the debate on the IRMCT’s semi-annual progress report and to meet with the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals prior to the debate. The IRMCT’s prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, may also brief the Council. Council members expect to receive the IRMCT’s most recent semi-annual progress report by 3 December.
Key Recent Developments
The IRMCT, with branches in The Hague and Arusha, Tanzania, focuses on the completion of trials and appeals from the ICTY (which closed in December 2017) and the ICTR (which closed in December 2015); locating and arresting the eight remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR; and assisting national jurisdictions in handling requests related to prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It was established in 2010 by resolution 1966, which says “the Mechanism shall continue the jurisdiction, rights and obligations and essential functions of the ICTY and the ICTR” and “should be a small, temporary and efficient structure, whose functions and size will diminish over time, with a small number of staff commensurate with its reduced functions”. According to the resolution, the IRMCT was mandated to operate for an initial period of four years and for subsequent periods of two years thereafter unless the Security Council decides otherwise.
Before the 30 June end of the Mechanism’s most recent two-year operating period, the Council adopted resolution 2422 on 27 June, extending Brammertz’s term until 30 June 2020, with 14 votes in favour and Russia abstaining. The resolution requested the IRMCT to continue to take steps further to enhance efficiency and effective and transparent management, including “more focused projections of completion timelines and disciplined adherence thereto”; “enhancement of the geographic diversity and gender balance of staff, while ensuring continued professional expertise”; and “further reduction of costs, including through, but not limited to, flexible staff engagement”. It requested that the IRMCT update the Council in its semi-annual reports on progress achieved in implementing the resolution.
On 29 June, the Secretary-General re-appointed 23 judges to the roster of the IRMCT for two-year terms commencing on 1 July and expiring on 30 June 2020. He also reappointed Meron as president of the IRMCT from 1 July to 18 January 2019 and appointed Judge Carmel Agius as president from 19 January 2019 to 30 June 2020. Since then, one of the judges has died. As the IRMCT is to have a roster of 25 judges, according to Article 8 of its statute, a further three judges still need to be appointed.
On 17 October, Meron briefed the General Assembly on the sixth annual report of the IRMCT and highlighted progress made in carrying out the core responsibilities inherited from the ICTR and the ICTY, including support for victims and protection of witnesses; enforcement of sentences of those convicted; and managing the Tribunals’ archives.
The last semi-annual debate on the IRMCT was held on 6 June, with briefings by Meron and Brammertz. Meron told the Council that the IRMCT “has begun to stand on its own without the support of its two predecessor tribunals and has taken on the full ambit of the residual functions entrusted to it”. He added that it has done so “while facing unprecedented and unexpected challenges with regard to resource constraints and as a result of the rapid implementation of expenditure reductions, the deployment of staff-downsizing measures and the deterioration in staff morale”.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is for members to continue monitoring the work of the IRMCT and the implementation of its mandate, including the areas specified in resolution 2422.
Following the closure of the ICTY in December 2017, the debate on 6 June was the first public Council meeting focused solely on the IRMCT. All 15 Council members made statements at the debate. With the exception of Russia, all other Council members generally assessed the IRMCT positively and commended the progress it had made so far. Russia, which had been consistently critical of the ICTY, said in its statement that based on its analysis of specific cases, the IRMCT “has inherited the ICTY’s flawed working methods”. It also emphasised the temporary nature of the IRMCT, seeking that “its residual functions—including legal proceedings, whose delay on the pretext of reduced funding is unacceptable—be completed as quickly as possible” and called for “reliable projections, maximum efficiency and transparency”. In explaining its abstention on resolution 2422 on 27 June, Russia expressed its opposition to the reappointment of the same officials from the ICTY (Brammertz had previously served as the ICTY’s prosecutor) and reiterated its view of the IRMCT’s “problems with its approaches to justice and its internal administration and staffing policies”. Russia also abstained on the adoption of resolution 2269 on 29 February 2016, which previously extended Brammertz’s term until 30 June 2018.
Peru is the chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals.
UN Documents on International Criminal Tribunals
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 June 2018S/RES/2422||This was a resolution extending IRMCT prosecutor Serge Brammertz’s term until 30 June 2020.|
|22 December 2010S/RES/1966||This resolution established the residual mechanism.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|27 June 2018S/PV.8295||This was the meeting at which resolution 2422 was adopted.|
|6 June 2018S/PV.8278||This was the semi-annual debate on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.|
|Security Council Letters|
|1 August 2018S/2018/569||This was the sixth annual IRMCT report.|
|29 June 2018S/2018/652||This was from the Secretary-General, reappointing 23 judges of the IRMCT until 30 June 2020.|