The action of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
Genocide was legally defined at the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9th, 1948. It defines genocide as 'any series of acts committed with an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group'. Today, even other international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (in Article 6 of the Statute of Rome of 1998) have tried to complement this definition. Article 6 explains the concept of genocide and distinguishes it from other crimes against humanity. Thus, if even one finds that another act operate on the same concepts – i.e. murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or persecutions of a racial or religious group - genocide requires to fulfill one other element - the desire to exterminate an entire population with the systematic implementation of an extermination plan.
A UN member stated they have a duty 'to prevent or stop acts of genocide' under the UN Charter and Article 8 of the Geneva Convention (August 12th, 1949). Having failed to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, the international community has undertaken the task to put the perpetrators on trial by establishing an ad hoc tribunal as per the resolution 955 on 8th November 1994, called the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
How does the ICTR try to meet the objectives set by the international community i.e. to punish those who are responsible for the crimes against humanity in Rwanda?
This paper studies the establishment of the ICTR, from its conceptualization to its construction. This paper aims (I) to analyze its actions then view obstacles and (II) to explain its contribution to International Criminal Law
The advent of the ICTR in a volatile environment:
This is to understand the context in which the ICTR was created. Resolution 955 was adopted in the fall of 1994 and Rwanda had just emerged from the war. On July 17, 1994, the RPF had declared the end of hostilities. Rwanda was a bruised, divided State that was seeking justice. The Rwandan government set up discussions about the creation of an International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.Initial discussions address the purpose of such a structure. The goal of the ICTR was "national reconciliation and maintenance of peace" in accordance with the mobilization of Chapter VII of the Charter.
However, this resolution does not provide the means by which the ICTR can complete this mission of reconciliation and peace.
The organization and powers of this new court:
(i)An ad hoc tribunal
This was created specifically to judge the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. This tribunal aims to "contribute to the process of national reconciliation in Rwanda and the maintenance of peace in the region," and also "to prosecute the persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan citizens responsible for such violations of the international law committed in the territory of neighboring States between January 1 and 31 December 1994.
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