The Future of War-Crimes Prosecutions – Rikard Jozwiak – The Atlantic

An update on the International Criminal Tribunal setup for the former Yugoslavia:

The mandate of the ICTY is coming to an end in 2014 and you still have three important ongoing trials. Do you fear that these three trials might be rushed with this deadline in mind?

As a part of the completion strategy put in place by the [UN] Security Council already in 2004, we have to finish and to finalize our remaining trials within a certain time frame — currently at the end of 2014. I think that 2015 is probably more realistic.

Of course there is a form of political pressure behind which is a clear message we are receiving from New York. But I don’t think it will impact on the quality of the work delivered. As far as the prosecution, as far the defense as also the judges [are concerned], I think we are all professionals and we make sure that international standards are maintained.

But of course we cannot endure that the completion strategy has some negative impact. For example, we are downsizing, we are losing staff, so with less staff we have to provide the same work, the same service, and this is of course a heavy burden on our remaining staff.

via The Future of War-Crimes Prosecutions – Rikard Jozwiak – The Atlantic.


6 thoughts on “The Future of War-Crimes Prosecutions – Rikard Jozwiak – The Atlantic”

  1. I admit that I don’t know much about war crimes, but prosecution of war criminals seems to take a very long time. The conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina ended 17 years ago. Often, laws against war crimes are not even enforced, as was the case in My Lai — 26 charged, one convicted. Why is international law at times ineffective at enforcing measures like the Geneva Convention? I found this article helpful:

    I don’t know if Bill ever reads these comments, but I would like to ask him about this. Given his remarks last week on the increasing relevance of international law, I would like to know what he thinks with regards to why international laws–laws against war crimes, for example–are so difficult to enforce.

  2. I think there is a clear need for reform of war criminal prosecutions. In Yugolslavia, the fourth man in 11 has been sentenced for crimes committed during the 1990s break-up of Yugoslavia. This is not a new problem and its issues spread internationally.

    I also admit to not have a deep understanding of this type of law and the intricacies of these tribunals. Still, the UN should take greater action to help this situation. While this does speak to the inadequacies of international law and the unenforceable nature of international policy; yet, if the UN does not do more, who will?,0,1359035.story

  3. Although I agree with Garret and Leah that there are a lot of reforms that could be made, I think it also important to recognize the positive implications of an international court.

    In my study of Piracy laws and trials, it was interesting to find that there is no current forum in which pirates can be tried. They can be tried in individual courts in a specific country, but with the spread of globalization and the weak government in the Horn of Africa there is a need for an international forum that can address these problems.

    In the case of the Bosnia-Herzegovina case I am glad that there was a forum in which they could try war criminals. Though the call for reform is loud, who is to say that we know what is the best way to fix the system. We keep calling the UN to action, but I think it is time we educated ourselves more in the matters at hand and then compromise on solutions.

  4. I’ll join the club and admit that I don’t know much about international courts either, however, while I was reading about the Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, I found this statement: “By holding high-ranking individuals who committed serious violations of international humanitarian law accountable, the court seeks to deter other countries from perpetrating similar crimes and to end impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law” ( I think this is an interesting statement because if the goal of these international criminal courts is to deter others from committing crimes, then I don’t think they’re doing a very good job. With only a few convictions out of the dozens of trials, and continuing human rights violations, the job of deterrence is far from complete.

  5. I agree with some of the comments mentioned before. There is much need for reform in the ICC and from the article, reform in the makeup and positions in the ICC itself. There also seems to be a lack of credibility given to the court as well as seen by the lack of officials or loss of officials in the court. Something must happen to the court or the UN itself to see changes in efficiency. I think the ICC reflects what courts in the US are facing, that is providing enough punishment to deter future criminals from committing crimes. Here is an article analyzing the Labunga Trial

  6. Everyone admits that the International Criminal Court needs work, but it has helped contribute to expanding the respect of human rights. Al Jazeera has called upon the Arab Spring to include calls to ratify the Rome Statute and join the ICC. For the Middle East, the ICC would bring with it the power to ensure that human rights are followed. Yes, the system is flawed, but it helps and is important that it keeps expanding. It forces leaders to be accountable for violating human rights.

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