International Criminal Tribunals
Expected Council Action
In July, 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 Carmel Agius, who assumed the presidency on 19 January, is expected to brief during the debate and to meet with the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals prior to this. The IRMCT’s prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, may also brief the Council. No outcome is expected.
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 that “the Mechanism shall continue the jurisdiction, rights and obligations and essential functions of the ICTY and the ICTR”, and that it “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 resolution 1966, 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. The Council most recently extended the IRMCT’s operating period in resolution 2422, adopted on 27 June 2018, 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 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.
Although the semi-annual debate is typically held in June, Peru, as chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, requested that it be held during its presidency in July. Peru intends to hold the debate on 17 July, World Day for International Justice. Council members received the assessment reports of the president and the prosecutor on 20 May. According to the president, the reporting period was a particularly busy and significant one, including the conclusion of the appeal proceedings in the case of Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadžić on 20 March. The appeal proceedings in the case of Prosecutor v. Ratko Mladić remain ongoing. The assessment also details several challenges faced by the IRMCT as a result of budgetary reductions approved by the General Assembly in July 2018, including reductions in staffing, non-post resources, and other aspects of the IRMCT’s operations.
According to the prosecutor’s assessment, the Office of the Prosecutor continued to focus on its three priorities: the expeditious completion of trials and appeals, locating and arresting the eight remaining fugitives, and assisting national jurisdictions prosecuting international crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. During the reporting period, the Office of the Prosecutor worked on one case at the pretrial stage, one trial, and two appeals proceedings. Regarding the eight fugitives, the assessment expressed deep regret at the lack of cooperation from South African authorities, stating that the “tracking efforts of the Office of the Prosecutor have been directly and negatively affected, preventing results from being achieved”. According to the assessment, the Office of the Prosecutor submitted an urgent request for assistance to South Africa on 16 August 2018 on the basis of a confirmation provided by the INTERPOL National Central Bureau for South Africa. However, no response was received to that request, nor to a second urgent request for assistance on 15 March.
The last semi-annual debate on the IRMCT was held on 11 December 2018, with briefings by then-President of the IRMCT, Judge Theodor Meron, and Brammertz.
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.
With the exception of Russia, all other Council members generally assess positively the IRMCT and the progress it has made. Russia, which had also been consistently critical of the ICTY, said in its statement at the briefing on 11 December 2018 that the IRMCT is “increasingly reminiscent of the ICTY in the worst periods of its existence” and criticised the selection of judges in the Karadžić and Mladić appeal cases. Russia has also repeatedly emphasised the temporary nature of the IRMCT and called for increased efficiency and transparency.
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 Record|
|11 December 2018S/PV.8416||This was the semi-annual debate on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.|
|Security Council Letter|
|20 May 2019S/2019/417||This was a letter transmitting the assessments of the President and of the Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.|