The International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) were established by the UN Security Council in response to the acts of genocide and serious violations of humanitarian law committed during the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda during the 1990s. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was established by the UN Security Council in response to the attack of 14 February 2005 in Beirut that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others.
The ICTY was established in 1993 by Security Council resolution 827. It has jurisdiction over grave breaches of international humanitarian law, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. The ICTY is based in The Hague.
The ICTR was established in 1994 by Security Council resolution 955, following a proposal by New Zealand and the United States. It has authority to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in the territory of Rwanda and by Rwandans in the territory of neighbouring States. The ICTR is based in Arusha, Republic of Tanzania.
The STL was established in 2007 by Security Council resolution 1757. While the mandate of the STL is to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005, the Tribunal’s jurisdiction can be extended beyond that incident if it finds that other attacks that occurred in Lebanon between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005 are connected and are of a similar nature and gravity. The STL is based in The Hague. Judge David Baragwanath of New Zealand is one of three international judges in the Appeals Chamber of the SLT.
The establishment of the ICTY and ICTR marked the beginning of a new era in international criminal law by acknowledging that individuals could be held to international account for their crimes. The principles recognized by the establishment of these tribunals formed an important part in the establishment of the first permanent International Criminal Court in 2002. A new generation of hybrid courts has also been established to deal with past atrocities, including the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. These courts are distinctive for the way in which they are based in the countries in which the atrocities occurred and combine domestic and international law:
The Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia were established after the Cambodian National Assembly passed a law in 2001 to create a court to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979. The Cambodian Government sought the assistance and participation of the international community in conducting trials in the Extraordinary Chambers, and agreement was reached with the United Nations in 2003 detailing the basis for such international participation. Dame Silvia Cartwright of New Zealand is one of two international judges who have been appointed to the Extraordinary Chambers’ trial chamber.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations in January 2002 to “try those who bear greatest responsibility” for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996 during the Sierra Leone Civil War. The court is located in Freetown, Sierra Leone.