International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

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The International Criminal Tribunal for 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", acronym 'ICTY', is a body of the United Nations (UN) established to prosecute war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. The tribunal functions as an ad-hoc court and is located in The Hague.

It was established by Resolution 827 of the UN Security Council, which was passed on May 25, 1993. It has jurisdiction over certain types of crime committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crime against humanity. It can try only individuals, not organizations or governments. The maximum sentence it can impose is life imprisonment. Various countries have signed agreements with the UN to carry out custodial sentences. The last indictment was issued March 15, 2004. It aims to complete all trials by the end of 2008 and all appeals by 2010.



The Tribunal employs some 1,200 staff. Its main organisational components are Chambers, Registry and the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP).

Chambers encompasses the judges and their aides. The Tribunal operates three Trial Chambers and one Appeals Chamber (which also functions as the Appeals Chamber for the ICTR); the Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber is also the President of the Tribunal as a whole. Currently, this is Theodor Meron (USA; since 2002). His predecessors were Antonio Cassese (Italy; 1993-1997), Gabrielle Kirk-McDonald (USA; 1997-1999) and Claude Jorda (France; 1999-2002).

Registry is responsible for handling the administration of the Tribunal; activities include keeping court records, translating court documents, transporting and accommodating those who appear to testify, operating the Public Information Section, and such general duties as payroll administration, personnel management and procurement. It is headed by the Registrar, currently Hans Holthuis (Netherlands; since 2000). His predecessor was Dorothée de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh (Netherlands; 1995-2000).

The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for investigating crimes, gathering evidence and prosecuting indictees. It is headed by the Prosecutor, who also serves as the Prosecutor of the ICTR. The current Prosecutor is Carla del Ponte (Switzerland; since 1999). Previous Prosecutors have been Ramón Escovar-Salom (Venezuela; 1993-1994), Richard Goldstone (South Africa; 1994-1996), and Louise Arbour (Canada; 1996-1999).


As of 2005, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia's Appeals Chamber is integrated by:

The Trial Chambers are integrated by:

According to UN resolutions, the ICTY also has nine ad litem Judges:

Criticisms of the Court

Some of the criticisms levelled against the court include:

  • It was established by the UN Security Council instead of the UN General Assembly The UN Charter specifically gives the exclusive right to establish such organs to the General Assembly. This has been the formal basis of Milosevic's claim that the court has no legal authority. It was established on the basis of the Chapter VII of the UN Charter; relevant portion of the charter reads "the Security Council can take measures to maintain or restore international peace and security"; it is disputed whether a tribunal could be considered a measure to maintain or restore international peace and security.
  • An apparently disproportionately large number of indictees are Serbs (to the extent that a sizeable portion of the Bosnian Serb and Serbian political and military leaderships have been indicted), whereas there have been very few indictments resulting from crimes committed against Serbs (many Croat indictees were charged with crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims); furthermore, Serbian indictees are of higher rank than those of other nations and face with broader accusations. Defenders of the Tribunal respond that Serb control of the established command structure (and most of the weaponry) of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) from the start of the various wars facilitated the commission of crimes on a wider and more organised scale; furthermore, the Serb command structure facilitated the identification of those with command responsibility for war crimes. However, this fails to explain why a number of specific crimes commited against Serbs are not prosecuted.
  • Many of the indictees are still not apprehended, which reflects badly on its image. Defenders point out that the Tribunal has no powers of arrest, and is reliant on other agencies (notably national governments, EUFOR and KFOR) to apprehend and extradite indictees.
  • The Tribunal's power to issue secret indictments creates uncertainty among people who regard themselves as possible indictees, which places an unreasonable strain on their ability to proceed with their everyday lives, both in the short and long term.
  • The Tribunal in effect makes no distinction between the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages, issuing documents in what it terms "B/C/S" ("Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian") with no regard to differences between the three; see Serbo-Croatian language. Supporters of this approach respond that since all three forms are mutually intelligible to a high degree (and indeed were officially considered to be single language before the breakup of the former Yugoslavia) separate translations are not needed. However, despite the fact that most of the indictees are Serbs, the tribunal exclusively uses translators who speak Bosnian and Croatian variants. Some of the indictees have filed complaints about not being able to fully understand the translations.

Further, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said the following about the court:

NATO countries are those that have provided the finance to set up the Tribunal, we are amongst the majority financiers, and of course to build a second chamber so that prosecutions can be speeded up so let me assure that we and the Tribunal are all one on this, we want to see war criminals brought to justice and I am certain that when Justice Arbour goes to Kosovo and looks at the facts she will be indicting people of Yugoslav nationality and I don't anticipate any others at this stage.

Mr. Shea's certainty appears to have been justified, since complaints over NATO war crimes were dismissed by the tribunal who claimed they had no jurisidiction over NATO.

This is in effect not the entire truth. The Tribunal is funded by approved appropriations made by the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly. The Nato states are of course members of the UN and hence they do get assesed for the budget as approved. There is some voluntary funding by certain member states of the UN but this in no way determines activity of the Tribunal in terms of who or what is dealt with. A good source for the funding question is the UN General Assembly itself as it publishes every year what the budget is and furthermore publishes the Audited Financial Statements. Mr. Shea is in no position to make any statements on the funding of the Tribunal, only the Secretary General of the United Nations and his appointed representatives are authoritative.

In December 2003, Wesley Clark testified behind closed doors during Slobodan Milošević's trial. In the 1990s, Clark had spoken with Milosevic for more than 100 hours in his role as the head of the U.S. military team during the Dayton Agreement negotiations and as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

Critics of the court took Clark's testimony as a prime example of the court's flaws. During Clark's cross-examination by Milosevic the following exchange is found:

MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] General Clark, is it true that in an interview that you gave for The New Yorker on the 17th of November, you said that the war that you waged was technically illegal?
[Judge Richard May, presiding, cuts Milošević off and some back and forth follows between the two, in which Judge May reminds Milošević that since Milošević is cross-examining General Clark, he can only address matters regarding which the witness was asked to testify during the examination in chief by the prosecutions counsel. Since the legality of the NATO military action was not discussed during examination in chief, the rules of procedure do not permit Milošević to raise that issue during cross-examination. At the end of the exchange, Milošević asks:]
MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] So I cannot ask him anything at all about the war waged by NATO against Yugoslavia. Is that what you're saying?
MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation] Well, Mr. May, that really is an example showing that this is truly nothing more than a farce.

Milosevic was required to call Clark as his own witness to open these lines of questioning.


An incomplete list.

Name Ethnicity
Former rank
Rahim Ademi Croatian army general, ethnic Albanian
Milan Babić Croatian Serb, prime minister of Republika Srpska Krajina Sentenced to thirteen years for his part in ethnic cleansing
Haradin Bala Kosovo Albanian, Kosovo Liberation Army prison camp guard  
Idriz Balaj Kosovo Albanian, Kosovo Liberation Army special unit commander
Beqë Beqaj Albanian indicted for contempt of the tribunal for allegedly interfering with witnesses in the case against Fatmir Limaj and Isak Musliu
Vidoje Blagojević Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army officer Sentenced to 18 years for involvement in the Srebrenica massacre
Tihomir Blaškić Croatian, Croatian Army general convicted, partially dismissed in appeal, since released
Janko Bobetko Croatian

chief of staff, Croatian army

indicted, died before the case could be heard
Ljube Boškovski Macedonian

interior minister of Macedonia

for Ljuboten attack
Lahi Brahimaj Kosovo Albanian, Kosovo Liberation Army
Ljubomir Borovcanin Serb indicted in Srebrenica case
Goran Borovnica Serb indicted in Prijedor case
Miroslav Bralo Bosnian Croat    
Ivan Čermak Croatian

army general

awaiting trial
Mario Čerkez Croatian sentenced to 15 years for offensives in Lašva Valley, Bosnia
Hazim Delić Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian prison camp deputy commander Sentenced to twenty years, found guilty of murder & rape
Rasim Delić Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Army General  
Vlastimir Đorđević Serb

army general

Đorđe Đukić Serb   indicted for shelling civilian targets, died before case was tried
Stanislav Galić Bosnian Serb indicted for Sarajevo ; sentenced to 20 years ; appeal pending.
Milan Gvero Bosnian Serb indicted for Srebrenica
Ante Gotovina Croat, army general  
Momčilo Gruban Serb indicted in Omarska Camp case
Sefer Halilović Bosnian Muslim for massacres in the villages of Grabovica and Uzdol, Bosnia
Ramush Haradinaj Albanian

prime minister of Kosovo

indicted for action while regional commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army
Gojko Janković, Bosnian Serb  
Goran Jelisić, Serb   convicted
Dragan Jokić Bosnian Serb sentenced to 9 years for involvement in Srebrenica massacre
Miodrag Jokić Serb

admiral in Yugoslav navy

sentenced to seven years for the bombing of Dubrovnik
Drago Josipović Croat   convicted for the massacres in Ahmići-Šantići
Radovan Karadžić Montenegrin, former President of Republika Srpska Genocide,Crimes against humanity,Violations of the laws or customs of war & Grave breaches of the Geneva conventions of 1949  
Duško Knežević Serb indicted in Omarska Camp case
Dario Kordić Croat sentenced to 25 years for offensives in the Lašva Valley, Bosnia
Radomir Kovač Serb   convicted
Momčilo Krajišnik Bosnian Serb

prime minister of Republika Srpska

Milorad Krnojelac Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb prison commander Sentenced to fifteen years for the Foca prison camp
Radislav Krstić Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army general Genocide, Crimes against humanity & Violations of the laws or customs of war Sentenced to thirty five years (Originally forty six years)
Dragoljub Kunarac Serb   convicted
Esad Lanzo Bosnian Muslim convicted
Vladimir Lazarevic Serb

army general

Fatmir Limaj Albanian  
Sreten Lukić Serb

Serbian police general

Mladen Markač Serb   awaiting trial
Milan Martić Serb

prime minster of Republika Srpska Krajina

Željko Meakić Bosnian Serb indicted in Omarska Camp case
Radivoj Miletić Bosnian Serb indicted for Srebrenica
Milan Milutinović Serb

President of Serbia

indicted for incidents while in authority during Kosovo War
Dragomir Milošević, Bosnian Serb indicted for command of siege of Sarajevo
Slobodan Milošević Serb

president of Serbia, president of Yugoslavia

indicted for incidents while in authority during Kosovo War
Ratko Mladić Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army Commander of the Main Staff Genocide,Complicity in Genocide,Crimes against Humanity & Violations of the laws & customs/war  
Darko Mrđa Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb police unit commander   Sentenced to 17 years
Mile Mrkšić Croatian Serb, Yugoslav Army Colonel, Later Republika Srpska Krajina Army Commander Indictment in relation to Vukovar
Isak Musliu Kosovo Albanian, Kosovo Liberation Army commander  
Mladen Tuta Naletilić Bosnian Croat, Bosnian Croat paramilitary  
Dragan Nikolić Serb, Bosnian Serb Prison Commander Indicted in the Susica Camp case Sentenced to twenty years
Drago Nikolić Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army Officer indicted in the Srebrenica case
Dragan Obrenović Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army Lieuttenant-Colonel Sentenced to seventeen years
Dragoljub Ojdanić Serb, Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff indicted for incidents while in authority during Kosovo War
Naser Orić Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Muslim Army commander of Srebrenica Violations of the laws or customs of war
Vinko Pandurević Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army general indicted in the Srebrenica case
Nebojša Pavković Serb, former Yugoslav Army chief of staff indicted for incidents while in authority during Kosovo War
Biljana Plavšić Bosnian Serb, former President of Republika Srpska plead guilty, Sentenced to eleven years
Vujadin Popović Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army Lieutenant colonel indicted in the Srebrenica case
Miroslav Radić Serb, Yugoslav Army captain    
Mitar Rašević Serb    
Nikola Šainović Serb, Former deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia indicted for incidents while in authority during Kosovo War
Vladimir Šantić, Bosnian Croat Freed on appeal
Vojislav Šešelj Serb, President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS)  
Duško Sikirica Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb prison commander   Sentenced to fifteen years
Veselin Šljivančanin Montenegrin, Yugoslav army battalion commander related to Vukovar
Mićo Stanišić Bosnian Serb, Former Bosnian Serb interior minister Crimes against humanity and Violations of the laws or customs of war
Vlajko Stojiljković Serb, Former Serbian interior minister Indicted with Slobodan Milosevic Commited suicide before trial
Pavle Strugar Montenegrin, Yugoslav Army general sentenced to eight years for command authority in bombing of Dubrovnik
Duško Tadić Bosnian Serb, Serbian Democratic Party leader in Kozarac and member of paramilitary force Sentenced to twenty five years
Miroslav Tadić Bosnian Serb, Chairman of Bosanki Samac 'Exchange commision'   sentenced to eight years in the Bosanski Šamac case, given early release
Johan Tarculovski Macedonian, Macedonian police officer for Ljuboten attack
Stevan Todorović Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb police head for the municipalty of Bosanki Samac   Sentenced to ten years
Savo Todović Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb prison commander    
Zdravko Tolimir Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army assistant commander Crimes against humanity and Violations of the laws or customs of war
Mitar Vasiljević Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb paramilitary Sentenced to twenty years, Found guilty of crimes against humanity
Zoran Vuković Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Serb Army soldier Sentenced to twelve years, Found guilty of rape & torture

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