The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

20 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2012 Last revised: 23 Jul 2019

See all articles by Leila N. Sadat

Leila N. Sadat

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: September 10, 2012


This lecture, delivered at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, considers the short-, medium-, and long-term legacy of the ICTR. During its seventeen-year history, the ICTR has made notable contributions to the development of international criminal law generally and has impacted the lives of thousands of individuals specifically. Despite its precarious beginnings, the ICTR grew from a tiny organization to a vital institution trying cases of extraordinary historical significance, including the first conviction for genocide since the convention’s adoption in 1948. Situating the Tribunal’s work in its historical context, this lecture reflects upon the principles first developed at Nuremberg and offers suggestions for future action to help consolidate the legacy of the ICTR. As the work of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals winds down and the Residual Mechanism begins, it is clear that the ICTR has had profound effect upon people in Rwanda, East Africa, and the broader international community. The lecture concludes with the recognition that trials alone cannot bring about peace and reconciliation and emphasizes the need for continued development assistance and capacity building to ensure national healing. In short, much has been achieved in the almost two decades of operation at the ICTR but there remains a long road ahead for those committed to international peace and justice.

Keywords: international law, international criminal law, international criminal justice, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, Nuremberg trials, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, Rwandan Genocide, ad hoc international criminal tribunals, international legal regimes

Suggested Citation

Sadat, Leila N., The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (September 10, 2012). Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-09-05. Available at SSRN: or

Leila N. Sadat (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-6411 (Phone)
314-935-5356 (Fax)

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