Thursday, 23 December 2010

Security Council establishes "International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals'

By Resolution 1966 (2010), the United Nations Security Council yesterday established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with two branches. The Mechanism’s branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will begin functioning on 1 July 2012, while the branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will commence on 1 July 2013.
The Statute of the International Residual Mechanism is annexed to the Resolution.
In effect, the 'Mechanism' is a new international criminal tribunal established by the Security Council, the fifth such institution (in addition to ICTY and ICTR, the Council has participated in the creation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon). There are a number of specific differences between the Mechanism and the two ad hoc tribunals that it is created to replace, including the possibility of a trial before a single judge. In principle, the Mechanism cannot indict new accused; its caseload is inherited from the two tribunals it replaces.

Under the so-called 'completion strategy', the tribunals were supposed to complete investigations by the end of 2004, all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and all work in 2010. They have fallen far short of this target. Yesterday's resolution was adopted with one abstention, of Russia. It said the tribunals had 'every opportunity' to complete their work by the dates that had been previously agreed. 'We firmly believe that today’s resolution is the last on the issue of the duration of activity of the tribunals and that they will be fully wound up by the end of 2014', said the Russian permanent representative.

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