UN war crimes tribunals request additional resources from General Assembly News
UN war crimes tribunals request additional resources from General Assembly
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[JURIST] Representatives from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) appeared before the UN General Assembly (UNGA) [official websites] on Friday to request additional financial resources [press release] and institutional support on behalf of the various war crimes tribunals. The ICTY and the ICTR, founded by the UN in early 1990s to try individuals responsible for genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, respectively, as well as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website], have all significantly outlived their expected lifespans. As a result, the tribunals are encountering budget shortfalls and delays that have led to staff attrition and other administrative roadblocks. In the case of the ECCC, the court was expected to require only $56 million over three years to achieve its mission, but recent estimates suggest a cost of more than triple the original budget as the tribunal heads into its fifth year of operation. Addressing the UNGA, ICTY President Judge Patrick Robinson emphasized the accomplishments of the courts, and said that the Assembly cannot afford to budget them as if they were administrative bodies. He added:

[T]he Tribunal is not an administrative body. It is a court of law, and as such it will always be prone to a certain degree of unforeseeability, which is a natural element in most kinds of judicial work, and particularly in trials as complicated as those at the Tribunal. The Tribunal cannot be wound up as though it were a bakery producing bread. It can only be wound up properly with appropriate sensitivity to the judicial character of its work.

Byron stated that, although the courts have made “significant progress,” their efforts have been severely constrained by staff turnover. “Experienced staff continue to leave the Tribunal at an alarming rate” in favor of similar organizations that can offer longer-term employment contracts, he said.

In September, the ICTY announced that the genocide trial of Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive] could take another four years [JURIST report] to complete. Also in September, members of the Cambodian government and the UN met with officials for 30 countries [JURIST report] seeking additional funding for the ECCC as the tribunal faced budget shortfalls of $7.4 million and $39 million for 2010 and 2011. That same week, current and former international prosecutors signed the fourth Chautauqua Declaration [text, PDF] praising recent advances in international law and urging countries to continue supporting the international courts [JURIST report] in order to maintain the spirit of the Nuremburg Principles [text]. The prosecutors, who have worked with the ICTY, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official websites], the ICTR and the ECCC, as well as the International Military Tribunals, called for continued support and funding of the tribunals as they continue working to maintain the international rule of law. They urged countries to fulfill their obligations under international law by investigating and prosecuting, or transferring to the appropriate court, suspects who violate international criminal law, including sitting heads of state.