Legality and legitimacy

An assessment of the historical place of any trials requires both a micro and a macro analysis. This chapter describes the history of national and international trials for 'war crimes' and considers the various purposes of war crimes trials. It presents the comparative examination of the establishment and functioning of the Nuremberg, Tokyo, Yugoslavian and Rwandan tribunals respectively. Nuremberg has been described as 'the most majestic forensic drama ever enacted on the stage of history'. Article 6 of the charter provided for jurisdiction over three categories of offence for which there was individual responsibility: crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The chapter highlights the principal features of the permanent international criminal court. It concludes with an assertion that that war crimes trials before international tribunals have moved closer and closer towards satisfying purer norms of legality and legitimacy.

in Domestic and international trials, 1700–2000
A twenty-first century trial?

On Tuesday, 3 July 2001, Slobodan Milosevic made an initial appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He was the first former head of state in history to be prosecuted for war crimes by an international tribunal. The case was set down for trial by Trial Chamber III, composed of three judges. The prosecution team is headed by the ICTY Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, a former Attorney General of Switzerland, and includes advocates from the UK and the Netherlands. There is no defence counsel because Milosevic stated his wish to defend himself. Milosevic vigorously denied the allegations of wrongdoing and argued instead that responsibility lay chiefly with the Kosovo Liberation Army ('KLA') and NATO. Whatever its outcome, Milosevic trial may have deep and lasting significance for international law and international institutions.

in Domestic and international trials, 1700–2000