International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia
ICTY logo.svg
Logo of the Tribunal
Established25 May 1993
Dissolved31 December 2017
CountryUnited Nations
LocationThe Hague, Netherlands
Coordinates52°05′40″N 4°17′03″E / 52°05′40″N 4°17′03″E / 52.0944; 4.2843

The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was a body of the United Nations established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars, and to try their perpetrators. The tribunal was an ad hoc court located in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Court was established by Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council, which was passed on 25 May 1993. It had jurisdiction over four clusters of crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991: grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crimes against humanity. The maximum sentence it could impose was life imprisonment. Various countries signed agreements with the UN to carry out custodial sentences.

A total of 161 persons were indicted; the final indictments were issued in December 2004, the last of which were confirmed and unsealed in the spring of 2005.[1] The final fugitive, Goran Hadžić, was arrested on 20 July 2011.[2] The final judgment was issued on 29 November 2017[3] and the institution formally ceased to exist on 31 December 2017.[4]

Residual functions of the ICTY, including oversight of sentences and consideration of any appeal proceedings initiated since 1 July 2013, are under the jurisdiction of a successor body, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals.[5]



Report S/25704 of the UN Secretary-General, including the proposed Statute of the International Tribunal, approved by UN Security Council Resolution 827

United Nations Security Council Resolution 808 of 22 February 1993 decided that "an international tribunal shall be established for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991", and calling on the Secretary-General to "submit for consideration by the Council ... a report on all aspects of this matter, including specific proposals and where appropriate options ... taking into account suggestions put forward in this regard by Member States".[6]

The Court was originally proposed by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel.[7] By 25 May 1993, the international community had tried to pressure the leaders of the former Yugoslavian republics diplomatically, militarily, politically, economically, and – with Resolution 827 – through juridical means. S/25704 report of the Secretary-General and adopted the Statute of the International Tribunal annexed to it, formally creating the ICTY. It would have jurisdiction over four clusters of crime committed on the territory of the former SFR Yugoslavia since 1991: grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crime against humanity. The maximum sentence it can impose is life imprisonment.{First Annual Report of the ICTY – located on official website}


In 1993, the ICTY built its internal infrastructure. 17 states have signed an agreement with the ICTY to carry out custodial sentences.[8]

1993–1994: In the first year of its existence, the Tribunal laid the foundations for its existence as a judicial organ. The Tribunal established the legal framework for its operations by adopting the rules of procedure and evidence, as well as its rules of detention and directive for the assignment of defense counsel. Together these rules established a legal aid system for the Tribunal. As the ICTY is part of the United Nations and as it was the first international court for criminal justice, the development of a juridical infrastructure was considered quite a challenge. However after the first year the first ICTY judges had drafted and adopted all the rules for court proceedings.[9]

1994–1995: The ICTY established its offices within the Aegon Insurance Building in The Hague (which was, at the time, still partially in use by Aegon)[10] and detention facilities in Scheveningen in The Hague (the Netherlands). The ICTY hired now many staff members. By July 1994 there were sufficient staff members in the office of the prosecutor to begin field investigations and by November 1994 the first indictment was presented and confirmed. In 1995, the entire staff numbered more than 200 persons and came from all over the world. Moreover, some governments assigned their legally trained people to the ICTY.


The Tribunal building in The Hague

In 1994 the first indictment was issued against the Bosnian-Serb concentration camp commander Dragan Nikolić. This was followed on 13 February 1995 by two indictments comprising 21 individuals which were issued against a group of 21 Bosnian-Serbs charged with committing atrocities against Muslim and Croat civilian prisoners. While the war in the former Yugoslavia was still raging, the ICTY prosecutors showed that an international court was viable. However, no accused was arrested.[11]

The court confirmed eight indictments against 46 individuals and issued arrest warrants. Bosnian Serb indictee Duško Tadić became the subject of the Tribunal's first trial. Tadić was arrested by German police in Munich in 1994 for his alleged actions in the Prijedor region in Bosnia-Herzegovina (especially his actions in the Omarska, Trnopolje and Keraterm detention camps). He made his first appearance before the ICTY Trial Chamber on 26 April 1995, and pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in the indictment.[12]

1995–1996: Between June 1995 and June 1996, 10 public indictments had been confirmed against a total of 33 individuals. Six of the newly indicted persons were transferred in the Tribunal's detention unit. In addition to Duško Tadic, by June 1996 the tribunal had Tihomir Blaškić, Esad Landžo and Hazim Delić in custody. Erdemović became the first person to enter a guilty plea before the tribunal's court. Between 1995 and 1996, the ICTY dealt with miscellaneous cases involving several detainees, which never reached the trial stage.


In 2004, the ICTY published a list of five accomplishments "in justice and law":[13][14]

  1. "Spearheading the shift from impunity to accountability", pointing out that, until very recently, it was the only court judging crimes committed as part of the Yugoslav conflict, since prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia were, as a rule, reluctant to prosecute such crimes;
  2. "Establishing the facts", highlighting the extensive evidence-gathering and lengthy findings of fact that Tribunal judgments produced;
  3. "Bringing justice to thousands of victims and giving them a voice", pointing out the large number of witnesses that had been brought before the Tribunal;
  4. "The accomplishments in international law", describing the fleshing out of several international criminal law concepts which had not been ruled on since the Nuremberg Trials;
  5. "Strengthening the Rule of Law", referring to the Tribunal's role in promoting the use of international standards in war crimes prosecutions by former Yugoslav republics.


The United Nations Security Council passed resolutions 1503 in August 2003 and 1534 in March 2004, which both called for the completion of all cases at both the ICTY and its sister tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) by 2010.

In December 2010, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1966, which established the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), a body intended to gradually assume residual functions from both the ICTY and the ICTR as they wound down their mandate. Resolution 1966 called upon the Tribunal to finish its work by 31 December 2014 to prepare for its closure and transfer of its responsibilities.[5]

In a Completion Strategy Report issued in May 2011, the ICTY indicated it aimed to complete all trials by the end of 2012 and all appeals by 2015, with the exception of Radovan Karadžić whose trial was expected to end in 2014 and Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, who were at large at that time and were not arrested until later that year.[15]

The MICT's ICTY branch began functioning on 1 July 2013. Per the Transitional Arrangements adopted by the UN Security Council, the ICTY was to conduct and complete all outstanding first instance trials, including those of Karadžić, Mladić and Hadžić. The ICTY would also conduct and complete all appeal proceedings for which the notice of appeal against the judgement or sentence was filed before 1 July 2013. The MICT will handle any appeals for which notice is filed after that date.

The final ICTY trial to be completed in the first instance was that of Ratko Mladić, who was convicted on 22 November 2017.[16] The final case to be considered by the ICTY was an appeal proceeding encompassing six individuals, whose sentences were upheld on 29 November 2017.[17]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Міжнародны трыбунал па былой Югаславіі
српски / srpski: Хашки трибунал
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Međunarodni krivični sud za bivšu Jugoslaviju