November 17, 2018

The end of ICTY









By Jhr mr Alexander W. Beelaerts van Blokland.

In the 90’s of the 20th century the first war in Europe since World War II (1939-1945) took place. Europe was in shock. After the death of President Tito of the nation named Yugoslavia, people of that country started from 1991 onwards civil wars and formed several new, smaller countries. Some of them were at war with others as well. In several cases it happened with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and / or violations of the Geneva Conventions. In those cases those people should be charged and should be brought to trial. But for what court ?

The Security Council of the United Nations in New York decided in February 1993 to establish a special tribunal: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and The Hague was -again- chosen as the city where this ICTY would have its offices and courtrooms, with 24 permanent judges and twelve judges ‘ad litem’, which means: just for one or more specific cases. Altogether about 300 people worked there in an earlier situation than now (see below).

In the last 24 years no less than 161 accused persons were brought before their judges of ICTY, since 2007 by the Belgian head public prosecutor Serge Brammertz. The three most well known were Slobodan Milosevic (1941-2006), former President of Serbia and also of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Radovan Karadzic (born 1945), President of the so called Republika Srpska and Ratko Mladic (born 1943), former commander-in-chief of the Bosniak-Serbian army. Milosevic passed away in prison on March 11, 2006 during his ICTY-trial, Karadzic was condemned on March 3, 2016 to 40 years imprisonment and finally Mladic recently (November 22, 2017) was sentenced to imprisonment for life.

My old friend, the very experienced Dutch international criminal lawyer Judge Alphons Orie (born 1947) presided that case and pronounced the verdict the day before his 70th birthday, the age at which judges in The Netherlands have to retire (as I will myself also, in September 2018).

ICTY –with now only 90 people working there- will stop on December 31st, 2017. The appeal cases of Karadzic, Mladic and others will be handled over to MICT: the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, that also handles appeal cases of the former Rwanda Tribunal.    MICT is based in Arusha (Tanzania) and in The Hague, according to the former Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros Boutros Gali no less than ‘The Legal Capital of the World’.


About the author: Jhr mr Alexander W. Beelaerts van Blokland is Justice (Judge) in the (Dutch) Court of Appeal and since 2004 also honorary Special Advisor International Affairs , appointed by the Mayor and Aldermen of The Hague







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