The Legacy of Ad Hoc Tribunals Book Chapter:

Twenty-Four Years On


The Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals’ Contributions to Durable Peace


Published by the cambridge university press

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This chapter in Michael Scharf and Milena Sterio's book, The Legacy of Ad Hoc Tribunals in International Criminal Law: Assessing the ICTY’s and the ICTR’s Most Significant Legal Accomplishments from Cambridge University Press explores the social and political legacy of the two tribunals. It argues that while the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals were both timid and tardy in addressing atrocities, their work nevertheless contributed to lasting peace, stability, and accountability both within their respective regions and around the world.



On a regional level, Yugoslavia Tribunal indictments removed destabilizing actors from peace accord negotiations and post-conflict nation building. NATO decision-makers also relied on Yugoslavia Tribunal indictments when justifying armed intervention in the Kosovo conflict. In addition, the Yugoslavia Tribunal has established a historical record that provides catharsis for victims while countering false moral equivalencies produced by regional ethno-nationalist groups. Rwanda Tribunal indictments also removed lead genocidaires, including a former head of state, from the country’s post-genocide unity government. However, its restricted prosecutorial mandate and inability to prosecute members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) limited its ability to create an accurate historical record of conflict in the region.

Globally, the Yugoslavia Tribunal has inspired a culture of international criminal justice, professionalizing atrocity documentation and prosecution while creating a near-universal expectation of justice-based accountability for crimes against humanity. The Rwanda Tribunal furthered this culture, continuing to develop international criminal law while diversifying the group of professionals involved in accountability efforts. This has enabled current regional and international mechanisms to address crimes against humanity more agilely and assertively than their predecessors.


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Chapter Authors

Dr. Paul R. Williams

Dr. Paul R. Williams holds the Rebecca I. Grazier Professorship in Law and International Relations at American University where he teaches in the School of International Service and at the Washington College of Law. Dr. Williams is also the co-founder of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), a pro bono law firm providing legal assistance to states and governments involved in peace negotiations, post-conflict constitution drafting, and the prosecution of war criminals. As a world renowned peace negotiation lawyer, Dr. Williams has assisted over two dozen parties in major international peace negotiations and has advised numerous parties on the drafting and implementation of post-conflict constitutions. Several of Dr. Williams' pro bono government clients throughout the world joined together to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Williams has served as a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as an Attorney-Adviser for European and Canadian affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser. He received his J.D. from Stanford Law School and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Williams is a sought-after international law and policy expert. He is frequently interviewed by major print and broadcast media and regularly contributes op-eds to major newspapers. Dr. Williams has authored six books on various topics concerning international law, and has published over three dozen scholarly articles on topics of international law and policy. Dr. Williams is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and has served as a Counsellor on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.

Kimberly Larkin

Associate, Three Crowns, LLP; Legal Consultant, Public International Law & Policy Group. J.D., Stanford Law School, 2016; M.A., Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2013; B.A., Davidson College, 2011. Ms. Larkin has served in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser and has advised Rwandan officials on rule of law and transitional justice matters.



Michael Scharf

Milena Sterio



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