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United Nations: War Crimes Judges’ Terms Extended

(July 10, 2009) On July 7, 2009, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted two resolutions to extend the terms of service of judges on two different war crimes tribunals, in order to complete pending cases. The decision affects judges dealing with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the war in the Balkan region in the 1990s. The resolutions also asked that the tribunals do whatever is possible to finish their work efficiently.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is planning to finish first-instance trials by the end of 2009. The five permanent judges and eleven temporary judges of this court, which is located in Arusha, Tanzania, will remain in place until December 31, 2010, or until the cases assigned to them are completed.

The judges on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) are also to remain in office until December 31, 2010, or until the cases they are hearing are concluded. As with the Rwanda tribunal, the schedule is to have the trials of first instance completed by the end of 2009. The Security Council resolution covers eight permanent judges and ten ad litem judges. In acceptance of a request from the President of the ICTY, the Security Council also stated that the Secretary-General of the U.N. may appoint additional, temporary judges if needed for existing or additional trials.

Officials working on these tribunals have emphasized the need for cooperation from U.N. members in order to successfully try those responsible for war crimes in the two regions. (Security Council Extends Terms of Judges on UN War Crimes Tribunals, UN NEWS CENTRE, July 7, 2009, available at