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President Gabrielle Kirk Mcdonald will Leave The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Later this Year.

Press Release  

Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 16 March 1999
President Gabrielle Kirk Mcdonald will Leave The International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Later this Year.


Please find below the text of the letter from President McDonald to ICTY staff members in which she informs them of her intention to leave the International Tribunal.

15 March

Dear ICTY Staff:

This is to advise you of my resignation from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia effective as of 17 November 1999, or as soon thereafter as cases to which I am assigned are completed.

As one of the original eleven Judges to be elected to serve on the Tribunal, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to participate in establishing the Tribunal, the first truly international criminal court, and to assist in its development. It is now a fully functioning institution, which routinely conducts trials and appellate proceedings. We have established what is essentially a code of international criminal procedure. Moreover, we have developed jurisprudence for the application of international norms governing the conduct of armed conflicts and the protection of human rights. Thus, the International Tribunal is no longer a fledgling. Rather, it has found its wings and is soaring.

I have remained with the Tribunal longer than I originally contemplated. In 1997, when I was considering returning to the United States, I stayed and accepted the Presidency after advising my colleagues that I would serve only one term.

During the first sixteen months of my term we have seen the Tribunal grow and develop in very tangible ways: the addition of two of our three courtrooms; the swearing in of a third Trial Chamber; the Detention Unit facility increased by almost 50%; trials completed to Judgement and Sentencing for five persons; our first convicted person transferred for incarceration by a State; a very substantial increase in the Tribunal’s resources, particularly for fiscal year 1999; a staff that now totals 685 with approval for a total of 784 staff members. Additionally, we are presently engaged in an outreach effort to the people of the former Yugoslavia, which is critical if we are to overcome the misinformation that they have been given about the Tribunal. During the eight months left of my term I will expend considerable time and energy to make this program a success. We will challenge those who try to undermine our contribution to the peace process. We will work on countering the misinformation about the Tribunal with information about the Tribunal. We will strive to ensure that the Tribunal receives the respect it deserves from those for whom it was established and the international community at large.

My decision means that I will leave many committed individuals who have made personal sacrifices because of their belief in the importance of our work. That saddens me, however, I will not leave my commitment to justice in The Hague. I will continue to support the work of the Tribunal in any way that I can. I am sure each of you is as proud as I am to be a part of this historical development of international humanitarian law, which the Tribunal represents. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have been a fellow participant in this accomplishment.

I still have considerable time with the Tribunal and, as always, there is much work to be done. So, this is not goodbye yet. My future plans have not been fully established. In the past, however, I have been blessed in my career and I now look forward to other challenging and rewarding experiences. Whatever avenue I take, I will continue to support the work of the Tribunal and the cause of human rights.

The establishment of the Tribunal by the Security Council is an example of the important role of the United Nations in bringing about and maintaining international peace and security throughout the world. The support of the General Assembly has enabled the Tribunal to flourish. At long last, we have seen that the imperative of the rule of law has been vindicated. I carry that principle in my heart and soul, and I will strive to advance this cause as I carry out my future endeavors.

We will postpone our goodbyes for now, and I look forward to working with each of you over the next eight months. Thank you for your support of our work and for me, personally.

Yours sincerely,

Gabrielle Kirk McDonald


International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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