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Human Rights: Future of Ad Hoc Tribunals

  • Milena Sterio
Living reference work entry
Part of the International Human Rights book series (IHR)

Abstract

The Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, in the wake of World War II, created the precedent that individuals, including state leaders, could be held criminally accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg experience in particular set in motion the idea that individuals responsible for massive human rights violations should face criminal responsibility. This idea remained somewhat dormant until the early 1990s, when two new ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda were created by the United Nations Security Council. Over the past two decades, the international community has witnessed a proliferation of international and hybrid tribunals tasked with prosecuting those responsible for human rights violations: the International Criminal Court was created in the late 1990s and began its work in 2002; and several ad hoc tribunals have been created to investigate and prosecute cases in East Timor, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Kosovo, and Bosnia. Most recently, the United Nations General Assembly established a Mechanism for Syria, tasked with collecting and storing evidence of massive human rights violations in Syria, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Mechanism is expected to share this type of evidence and information with future tribunals prosecuting those responsible for such violations of human rights in Syria – with national jurisdictions as well as with a future ad hoc tribunal for Syria (should one be established). These tribunals, starting with the Yugoslavia and Rwanda courts and leading to the Syrian Mechanism, have significantly contributed toward the protection of human rights, by fine-tuning existing substantive human rights norms and by developing elaborate procedures aimed at protecting defense rights and the impartiality and fairness of judicial processes. This chapter will examine the human rights legacy and contribution of the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals, before turning to a discussion of current and future ad hoc tribunals. Thus, this chapter will focus on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, and the Syria Mechanism. For each of these ad hoc tribunals and mechanisms, this chapter will analyze their substantive and procedural focus on the protection of human rights. It will conclude that it is likely that current and future ad hoc tribunals (for Syria, perhaps) will continue to build upon the Yugoslavia and the Rwanda tribunals’ legacy in the field of human rights and that they will continue to contribute toward the elaboration of human rights norms.

Keywords

International criminal law International criminal tribunals International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Special Tribunal for Lebanon Kosovo Specialist Chambers Syria Mechanism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic EnrichmentCleveland-Marshall College of LawClevelandUSA

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