Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

War Crimes Research Guide

This guide is a starting point for your research on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Courts & Tribunals

OVERVIEW

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY),) Special Court for Sierra Leone, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the International Criminal Court (ICC) were all formed by the United Nations. These tribunals are generally limited in both jurisdiction and whom they can bring to trial.

The ICC is a permanent body established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,which is a treaty. Unlike the tribunals, the ICC has universal jurisdiction, among those parties which have ratified the treaty.

Please note, these tribunals and the ICC are distinct from the International Court of Justice. The ICJ is the principle judicial body of the U.N. and cases brought before this court are generally "legal disputes between States submitted to it by them".

BACKGROUND

  • The Contribution of the Rwanda Tribunal to the Development of International Law print andonline (Georgetown Law Only)
    A presentation of both the history of Rwanda and the ICTR. This reviews the cases as processes in of themselves, but also as part of the further progress of international law.
  • Implementing International Humanitarian Law : From the Ad Hoc Tribunals to a Permanent International Criminal Court INTL KZ6471.A39 2004
    The book traces the development of the international courts of justice as important parts of establishing the persecution of war crimes.
  • International Criminal Practice : The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the East Timor Special Panel for Serious Crimes, War Crimes Prosecutions in Kosovo INTL KZ6310.J66 2003
    The material is arranged thematically for accessing the statutes, rules of procedure and evidence, and jurisprudence governing these courts and tribunals. There is also commentary and extracts from judgments, decisions, and orders
  • International Crimes and the Ad Hoc Tribunals print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
    Organized around major issues such as personal responsibility to sentencing this book provides an in-depth overview of the statutes and laws applied in the prosecution of war crimes.
  • Internationalized Criminal Courts and Tribunals : Sierra Leone, East Timor, Kosovo, and Cambodia print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
    A comparative review of how these courts prosecuted war crimes but also how as group these tribunals help shape international law.

PRIMARY SOURCES -DATABASE & PRINT RESOURCES

Note on differences between online & print document availability:

Researchers delving into the trial documents of the ICTY and the ICTR frequently seek specific materials. Experience has shown that not all trial documents are available online or in all of the print sources.

For example, in the ICTR case of Alfred Musema (ICTR-96-13), the original indictment charged Musema with "genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide" and other charges. The amended indictment charged him with "genocide, or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide" and other charges. The charge of complicity in genocide was omitted from the original indictment.

The ICTR web site only provides the amended indictment. The print source Reports of Orders, Decisions and Judgements (ICTR) INTL KZ1201.A2 T75 1995- likewise only includes the amended indictment (although it is not labeled "amended"). The only source that reprints the original is the Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection INTL KZ1190.G56. The bottom line:for the most thorough research, be sure to compare online and print availability of ICTR and ICTY documents!

Recent tribunals have excellent web sites (see below) with basic legal documents, indictments and case law. Below are the key print and database resources for case law and other basic legal materials for the international courts and tribunals.

  • Basic Documents (ICTY) INTL REF K545.I58
    From the Yugoslav Tribunals.
  • Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection INTL KZ1190.G56
    Trial materials for the Rwanda and Yugoslav tribunals.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Reports of Orders, Decisions and JudgementsINTL KZ 1201.A2 T75 1995-
  • Judicial Reports (ICTY)INTL KZ1203.A2 J83
    From the Yugoslav Tribunals
  • Lexis (Georgetown Law Only) To access International materials on Lexis, you must log into Lexis advance, select the Research tab at the top left of the page, and then select Lexis.com from the drop down menu that appears. International materials are only available on the classic platform (old Lexis).  Bolded below is the pathway to take from the classic platform:
    International Court of Justice- Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > International Law > Find Cases > International Court of Justice Decisions, Combined - this includes the advisory opinions, filings and judgments.
  • Netherlands Institute of Human Rights
    Maintains a database of ICTY and ICTR documents which is searchable. You can also sort by article number, keyword, name of accused, date, type of decision, and reference to other cases.
  • The Sierra Leone Special Court Collection INTL KZ1208.S53 A25 2008
    A three volume set with such materials as the the basic documents of the court (such as the codes of conduct), indictment and related documents against Charles Taylor as well as the transcripts.
  • Westlaw (Georgetown Law Only)
    International Criminal Tribunal - Combined [INT-ICT] Coverage begins with 1995. This database has case law from both the ICTY and the ICTR.

OFFICIAL WEB SITES LINKS

The official web sites of international courts and tribunals contain a wealth of information. On these sites you can often find:

    • Case law
    • Basic documents, including the treaty or other document that established the court
    • Indictments
    • Rules of procedure
    • Information on judges
    • Schedule of trials
    • Annual reports, statistics and other background information

  • Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
    In 2001, the Cambodian National Assembly passed a law which created the Extraordinary Chambers to try crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979. In 2003, an agreement was reached with the UN detailing how the international community will assist and participate in the Extraordinary Chambers (ARES/57/228B).
  • International Criminal Court (ICC)
    In July 1998, 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries. The ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC can only prosecute crimes committed after July 1, 2002.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
    In November 1994, acting under Chapter VII of the U. N. Charter, the Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda by resolution S/RES/955. The resolution was reissued for technical reasons on 6 July 2010 (S/RES/1932). The ICTR would prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
    In May 1993, the Tribunal was established by the United Nations (S/RES/827) in response to the war crimes during the conflicts in the Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the 1990's. The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals.
  • Special Court for Sierra Leone
    In January 2002, the Special Court for Sierra Leone was established jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the U.N. (S/RES/1315). Sierra Leone's Parliament ratified the Special Court Agreement in the same year. It is to try those violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.