ICTY’s 20th Anniversary – Statement by President Judge Theodor Meron
On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia by United Nations Security Council Resolution 827 (1993), Judge Theodor Meron, President of the Tribunal, released the following statement:
"Twenty years ago, the Security Council of the United Nations unanimously adopted Resolution 827, setting out the ICTY Statute and creating the first international criminal tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo courts which followed World War II. The Security Council’s action underscored the international community’s determination that those alleged to be responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia face trial. More broadly, the creation of the ICTY reflects the international community’s commitment to justice and its resolve that there be no impunity for any individual, even the most senior political or military leader, who commits genocide, crimes against humanity, or violations of the laws or customs of war.
The ICTY has faced and continues to face significant challenges. Nonetheless, through its trials and appeals, its jurisprudence, and its assistance to national jurisdictions, the Tribunal has made profound contributions to global efforts to battle impunity, to international law, and to the rule of law in the former Yugoslavia. Among other achievements, the Tribunal has: accounted for all 161 individuals it indicted, including high-level military and political leaders; clarified international humanitarian law with regard to a broad range of substantive issues; contributed to the establishment of a new body of procedural and evidentiary rules for international criminal proceedings which ensure that such proceedings are both efficient and fair; assisted in the creation of the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and shared expertise and information in a myriad ways throughout the former Yugoslavia; and served as a vital training ground for a new generation of jurists and lawyers. As a pioneer in the world of international criminal justice, the ICTY has also paved the way for the establishment of a number of other international criminal tribunals, including the first permanent international criminal court.
These achievements have been made possible by the many dedicated Judges, staff members, and others who have worked at or with the Tribunal over the past two decades; and the many witnesses who have shared their experiences in testimony before the ICTY. The Tribunal’s success is also a testament to the significant and continued support it has received from the United Nations, national governments, and international and non-governmental organizations, without which the ICTY would not have been able to function.
After twenty years of operations, the Tribunal is approaching the completion of its mandate and preparing to transition responsibility for essential functions to the new Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which has already assumed responsibility for core functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. By creating the Mechanism, the Security Council has made plain that the closure of the ICTY will not open the door to impunity. More broadly, the Mechanism will help to ensure the continuation of the ICTY’s legacy and the extraordinary contributions it has made to international criminal justice and the rule of law."