Security Council extends terms of judges on UN war crimes tribunals

7 July 2009 – The Security Council today extended the terms of the judges serving on the United Nations war crimes tribunals set up to deal with the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, so they can complete remaining cases by the deadline set for the courts’ work.

The Council, in two separate resolutions that were adopted unanimously, urged both tribunals “to take all possible measures to complete their work expeditiously,” and expressed its determination to support their efforts in this regard.

The so-called “completion strategy” of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague, requires it to finish trials of first instance by 2009, and then start downsizing in 2010.

Among the decisions taken today, the Council extended the term of office of eight permanent judges at the ICTY and 10 ad litem, or temporary, judges until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned.

In addition, the Council decided, on the request of the President of the ICTY, that the Secretary-General may appoint additional temporary judges to complete existing trials or conduct additional trials.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which is based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, is also aiming to finish first-instance trials by the end of 2009.

The Tribunal was created in November 1994 to prosecute people responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda that year. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, mostly by machete, in just 100 days.

The Council decided, among other matters, to extend the term of office of five permanent judges at the ICTR and 11 temporary judges until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned if sooner.

Reporting to the Council last month on their activities, officials from both tribunals stressed that the cooperation and assistance of Member States remains crucial if the courts are to successfully fulfil their mandates to bring those responsible for the most serious crimes to justice.


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