GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 3 (2011)
The International Residual Mechanism and the Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
By Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010), the Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals as the legal successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In the creation of the Residual Mechanism, the Security Council appears to have intended to ensure the continuation of the work of the Tribunals and thereby safeguard their legacies. Accordingly, the Statute of the Residual Mechanism continues the jurisdiction of the Tribunals, mirrors in many respects the structures of the Tribunals, and ensures that the Residual Mechanism's Rules of Procedure and Evidence are based on those of the Tribunals. However, the Statute of the Residual Mechanism is silent with regard to the weight the Judges of the Residual Mechanism must accord to ICTY and ICTR judicial decisions. While there is no doctrine of precedent in international law or hierarchy between international courts, this omission by the Security Council does have the potential to negatively impact the legacies of the Tribunal by allowing for departures by the Residual Mechanism from the jurisprudence of the Tribunals, which lead to similarly situated persons being dissimilarly treated. Nevertheless, even if the Residual Mechanism does adopt the jurisprudence of the Tribunals as its own, as a separate legal body it will still have to answer constitutional questions regarding the legitimacy of its establishment by the Security Council. While it can be anticipated that the Residual Mechanism will find itself validly constituted, the wisdom of the Security Council's decision to artificially end the work of the Tribunals by the establishment of the Residual Mechanisms will ultimately turn upon the question of whether any inherent unfairness could be occasioned to persons whose proceedings are before the Residual Mechanism. It will be suggested that the Security Council has provided the Residual Mechanism with sufficient tools to ensure that its proceedings are conducted in para passu with those of the Tribunals and that the responsibility of ensuring the highest standards of international due process and fairness falls to the Judges of the Residual Mechanism.
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