July 01, 2016

International Justice: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Judge Thomas W. Pittman

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is the emblematic successor to the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals with respect to legal accountability for wartime atrocities, and it is the world’s first truly international criminal tribunal. Its March 2016 trial judgement in the case against former supreme commander and head of state Radovan Karadžic´ on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes marked yet another judicial milestone in the life of this historic institution. Now in its 23rd year and approaching completion of its mandate, the ICTY stands as the respected elder among the subsequently created international and internationalized criminal courts. The following account ranges from the underlying conflict to the legal highlights of the ICTY before focusing on the interesting procedural divergences from U.S. practice and the many unique procedural aspects of its daily courtroom practice. (The spelling of judgment and defense as “judgement” and “defence” reflects legal writing in The Hague.)

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