International Criminal Law: A View from the Trenches – The Accidental Jurist


In creating the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals, the UN Security Council used its power under Chapter 7. Why did it do that? Why did it act to create the international tribunals to investigate and try the crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity? Perhaps it acted for self-serving reasons. Perhaps it acted for altruistic reasons. Perhaps it acted because it saw these crimes as the cause of regional instability – as sowing the seeds for future atrocities and future unrest. Perhaps it acted because of the international outcry against the crimes that were being committed – or because of the horrific nature of crimes themselves. Perhaps, it acted in the hope that these tribunals could be used as one means of bringing about a true, lasting peace in these affected societies. Because after all, individuals want accountability for wrongs done to them. Criminal accountability is one part, of one package, of the many packages that are needed to bring societies forward and out of these catastrophic events. But, whatever the motivation, in creating these tribunals, the Security Council, I believe, acted to advance the highest aspirations that we have for justice. And, regardless of its motivations, it also acted to create mechanisms to give victims and survivors and the affected societies access to justice through independent impartial criminal justice systems. Because that is what these international courts are, nothing less and nothing more. And that is how they should be judged, how well they have carried out their judicial mandates.


ICTY, ICTR, Chapter VII, international criminal tribunal, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, atrocities, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, modes of liability, ad hoc tribunal



Brenda J. Hollis (Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone)



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