Legacy website of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Since the ICTY’s closure on 31 December 2017, the Mechanism maintains this website as part of its mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals.

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Overview of Capacity Building Activities

The Tribunal’s partnership with the countries of the former Yugoslavia goes far beyond prosecuting the crimes that occurred there. The Tribunal also participates in a wide range of capacity building activities aimed at benefiting the national judiciaries in the former Yugoslavia.
Through working visits, training seminars, workshops and other activities, the Tribunal is transferring its expertise to local counterparts in a wide range of areas, ranging from legal jurisprudence to courtroom techniques and witness protection. Since 2010, the capacity building activities of the Outreach programme have complemented the War Crimes Justice Project, which the Tribunal is implementing in partnership with ODIHR and UNICRI.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Tribunal closely cooperates with war crimes sections of the State Court and State Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) , which are the country’s central organs for processing war crimes cases. A number of capacity building efforts have been undertaken, including the following:

• In 2009, a high-level delegation, that included the President of the Court of BiH and the Chief Prosecutor, visited the Tribunal to discuss recent developments in the capacity building efforts and transfer of materials to BiH.

• In 2008, more than 40 judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers from across the country participated in various trainings by the Tribunal staff. These trainings were held both in The Hague and in BiH.

• Judges from the BiH State Court’s War Crimes Section came to the ICTY on regular annual visits over the last several years, with the support of the United States Department of Justice. The judges familiarised themselves with the Tribunal’s work and held in-depth roundtable discussions with ICTY judges.

• In March 2005, a five-day training programme on international law was held for staff of the war crimes sections of the BiH State Court and the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Registry of the State Court. ICTY officials had a central role in the programme, with seven Tribunal staff participating as instructors.

• In early 2005, Chief of the Tribunal’s Court Management spent two working weeks in Sarajevo, assisting in the set up of a court management system for the BiH State Court. Staff of the State Court’s court management unit in turn paid a working visit to the ICTY where they worked together with Tribunal colleagues for a few days.

• In September 2005, Tribunal Security staff held a ten-day training workshop for the entire staff of the Court Police at the BiH State Court.

• The Conference and Language Services Section (CLSS) of the Tribunal has provided regular professional guidance to the BiH State Court’s Language Unit, and working visits have taken place in both directions. In July 2005, November 2005, and March 2006, a CLSS staff member helped to provide training in Sarajevo for the State Court’s interpreters.

• Numerous working visits have taken place between the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor and the BiH State Prosecutor’s Office, facilitating a smooth transfer of cases and evidentiary materials from the Tribunal to Bosnia and Herzegovina.


In Croatia, the ICTY has contributed to several capacity building efforts in cooperation with local and international partners. Past projects include the following:

In 2009 and 2008, many representatives of the Croatian Ministry of Justice visited the ICTY to boost their understanding of ICTY work as well as current methods of cooperation with Croatia.

• In February and July 2005, Croatian judges and prosecutors paid a working visit to the Tribunal during which they had a chance to meet with officials and judges, learn about developed practices and discuss various judicial issues, such as application of substantive and procedural law, collection and use of evidence and the evaluation of evidence. The visit was sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Europe and Eurasia Program.

• From May to October 2004, in cooperation with the Croatian Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Academy, the Tribunal ran a training programme for Croatian judges and prosecutors with the aim of assisting them in handling war crimes cases, including those transferred from the Tribunal. The training covered topics such as the definitions of crimes under international and local laws, forms of criminal responsibility, targeting of investigations, charging decisions and methods of proof, the conduct of investigations and drafting indictments, witness protection issues, penal policy as well as practical issues related to the provision of evidentiary materials and possible cases from the Tribunal. The programme involved approximately 60 Croatian legal professionals.

• In May 2003, the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme, the Croatian Association for Criminal Sciences and Practice from Zagreb, Croatia, and The Humanitarian Law Centre from Belgrade, Serbia, organised a conference on command responsibility in national and international law that was held in Belgrade and Zagreb. During two two-day sessions, the doctrine of command responsibility under international and national law was thoroughly examined and discussed by legal practitioners from Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia and their counterparts from the Tribunal. The conference was attended by judicial practitioners and other legal professionals (NGO, government and military representatives) from Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.



In Kosovo, the ICTY works closely with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other agencies active in the field of judicial capacity building. In 2000, the OSCE set up the Kosovo Judicial Institute – which is now completely under the Kosovo government aegis – for the purpose of providing judges and prosecutors with quality legal education. The Tribunal has engaged in several projects that include the following:

In June 2007, four leading Kosovo judicial officials, including the Chief Justice, Chief Public Prosecutor, President of the Bar Association and Deputy Minister of Justice, learned about modes of judicial cooperation with the ICTY, especially on matters relating to protecting the accused and witnesses

• In October-December 2002, the ICTY Outreach Programme in The Hague hosted working visits by more than twenty judges, prosecutors and defence counsel from Kosovo. They attended court proceedings and heard presentations about the work of the judges and chambers, the OTP and the Registry, including the Victims and Witness Section and the Office of Legal Aid and Defence Matters.

• In May 2002, the ICTY co-organised and provided the main speakers to a three-day seminar which allowed the Tribunal to convey its experiences in prosecuting serious violations of international humanitarian law to an audience consisting of tens of judges, prosecutors and defence counsel from Kosovo.

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the ICTY has participated in several capacity building initiatives in cooperation with other international agencies and the local authorities:

In October 2008, a group of high-level prosecutors from Macedonia visited the Tribunal. This practical exchange focused on OTP staff sharing their skills and knowledge to help the Macedonian judiciary better handle their war crimes cases, especially the ones based on files transferred from the Tribunal. The visit was also an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the ICTY and local prosecutor’s offices in Macedonia.

• During 2007, the ICTY participated in a wide-ranging training scheme on international humanitarian law for judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals. Besides several trainings and workshops that took place in Skopje, the program included three study visits to the Tribunal by the representatives of different Macedonian judicial institutions.

• In November 2005, several ICTY staff lectured in a seminar titled “International criminal law standards in defending and adjudicating serious crimes with focus on crimes proscribed by international law” held in Skopje.

• In 2003, the ICTY provided expert speakers to a two-day conference for Macedonian judges and prosecutors held in Skopje. Presentations concentrated on the Tribunal’s jurisprudence and experience in prosecuting serious violations of international humanitarian law.

• In November 2002, the ICTY co-organised a two-day conference at which comprehensive presentations were given about the Tribunal’s establishment, structure and achievements. Particular issues related to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were also discussed. The audience consisted of senior Macedonian legal professionals.

• In December 2001, the ICTY hosted a three-day working visit by 14 senior legal professionals, who attended court proceedings and heard presentations about various aspects of the Tribunal’s work.


In Serbia, the ICTY works actively with the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court and the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office in order to support their efforts to try war crimes cases. With the cooperation and support of international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as several embassies, the Tribunal has participated in numerous capacity building projects, including the following:

• In September 2010 a group of judges and prosecutors from the Belgrade Appellate Court, High Court and War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office held a three day round of discussions and consultations on a range of issues including case management, application of legal standards, witness protection and sentencing practice.

• In 2009 and 2008, more than 40 representatives of the Serbian judiciary visited the Tribunal to enhance their knowledge on the developed procedures including witness protection, security, investigation and trial management. One of the visits specifically focused on outreach by judicial institutions, as the Serbian judiciary is increasingly aware of the need for more support for war crimes prosecutions at home.

• In July 2007, the first group of eight law students from Serbia started their internships in the ICTY as part of an innovative programme under which the students proceeded to conduct an internship within the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court or the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office. The project was coordinated by the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Youth Initiative for Human Rights and supported by the Swiss Foreign Ministry.

• In March 2006, representatives from the Serbian Supreme Court came to The Hague to learn about the Tribunal’s best practices in outreach and public relations with a view to establishing similar services in their own court.

• In November 2004, the Tribunal hosted a group of investigators from the Republic of Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs on a visit sponsored by the OSCE. Tribunal staff lectured on various aspects of the Tribunal’s work and investigative methodologies in a week-long training programme in Belgrade prior to the visit in October 2004.

• The Tribunal hosted Serbian War Crimes Court and Prosecutor’s office officials in The Hague on a visit sponsored by the UNDP in May 2004. During the visit, Tribunal and Serbian officials discussed the challenges they are facing in trying war crimes cases and established channels of communication to cooperate on issues of mutual interest. The President of the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court conveyed the view of the Serbian participants that the visit was an extreme success to the media in a press conference later held in Belgrade.