Magazine article UN Chronicle

Within Four Swift Years, ICTR Shows Results

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Within Four Swift Years, ICTR Shows Results

Article excerpt

The decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (please see following pages) bring to practical life the lofty ideals of the Genocide Convention. Through the Tribunal, the Convention has been lifted from the statute books to become, 50 years after its adoption in the wake of the Holocaust, a testament to the world's renewed determination to collectively tackle genocide in a manner it never has before. The Tribunal was created after one of the most intense periods of mass exterminations in human history. At least 500,000 people, primarily Tutsis and moderate Hums, were brutally massacred in just three months in the middle of that year.

"The success of this Court in prosecuting genocide is a historic milestone and a defining example of the ability of the United Nations to create institutions which fulfil the highest aspirations of mankind", observed Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 30 August.

It is the international nature of this effort to prosecute genocidaires that has made it possible for the Tribunal to make such historic headway. The Tribunal was established by the Security Council, and its impartiality assured by the appointment of some of the world's most prominent judges and prosecutors from all five continents. It was successful in obtaining an extraordinary level of international cooperation in apprehending those sought by it, with 11 countries participating in the exercise thus far.

Equal skill was needed by the Tribunal to locate the traumatized witnesses of the genocide in widely dispersed countries, communities and refugee camps, and obtain their agreement to testify in Arusha despite the inherent risks of such testimony.

* The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in November 1994 by the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Chapter. The Tribunal Tribunal is based in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania.

* The ICTR is the first international body charged specifically with prosecuting crimes of genocide. The Tribunal's jurisdiction extends to serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda, and to Rwandan citizens responsible for such violations committed in neighbouring States, between 1 January and 31 December 1994.

* The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, organized by the Allies, were the first to prosecute and punish war crimes and crimes against humanity. The death penalty was available in those trials. …

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