Humanitarian Efforts Threatened by Security Problems: International Tribunal Created

UN Chronicle, March 1995 | Go to article overview

Humanitarian Efforts Threatened by Security Problems: International Tribunal Created


Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council on 8 November established an international tribunal for Rewanda to prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in that country and Rwandese citizens responsible for such acts committed in neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994.

The 32-Article Statute of the International Tribunal was adopted by the Council under resolution 955 (1994), by a vote of 13 to 1 (Rwanda), with 1 abstention (China).

The Tribunal is to consist of three main organs: the Chambers (comprising two three-judge Trial Chambers and one five-judge Appeals Chamber); the Prosecutor; and a Registry responsible for administering and servicing the Tribunal. The Prosecutor is Justice Richard Goldstone, who is also Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Convinced that the prosecution of those responsible for violations of humanitarian law would contribute to national reconciliation and peace in Rwanda, the Council asked the Secretary-General to implement urgently resolution 955 (1994) and arrange for the Tribunal's effective functioning, including making recommendations at the earliest time on locations for the Tribunal's seat. The Secretary-General was asked to make periodic reports.

The Council considered that the Government of Rwanda should be notified before decisions were taken concerning the enforcement, pardon or commutation of sentences. It decided to consider increasing the number of judges and Trial Chambers of the Tribunal if it became necessary. It also decided that an office would be established and proceedings would be conducted in Rwanda, where feasible and appropriate, subject to the conclusion of similar appropriate arrangements.

The Council further decided that all States shall cooperate fully with the Tribunal and take any measures necessary under their domestic law to implement the provisions of the Statute and the Council resolution, including the obligation to comply with requests for assistance or orders by a Trial Chamber. States were asked to keep the Council informed of such measures.

According to the Statute, the Tribunal has the power to prosecute persons committing genocide, which is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Such acts include: killing members of the group and causing them bodily or mental harm; deliberately inflicting conditions calculated to bring about the group's physical destruction; imposing measures to prevent births; and forcibly transferring children to another group. The Statute stipulates that conspiracy, public incitement and the attempt to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide shall be punishable.

The Tribunal has the power to prosecute persons responsible for crimes committed as part of a widespread attack against any civilian population on the basis of national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds. Such crimes include: murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation; imprisonment; torture; rape; persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; and other inhumane acts.

Prosecutor Goldstone visited Kigali on 19 and 20 December and had talks with the Rwandese Government, which assured him of full cooperation. The Office was to open in January 1995.

Mandate extended

On 30 November, the Council, in adopting resolution 965 (1994), extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) until 9 June 1995. It also expanded the mandate to enable the Mission to contribute to the security of the Tribunal's personnel and of human rights officers, including full-time protection for the Prosecutor's Office, as well as security details for missions outside Kigali, and to assist in establishing and training a new, integrated police force. Those tasks would be in addition to contributing to the security and protection of displaced persons and refugees, providing security for the distribution of relief supplies, and good offices to achieve national reconciliation within the framework of the 1993 Arusha Peace Agreement. …

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